Is International Travel Still Banned? Here’s What You Should Know

International travel is at a near-standstill this year. The good news is that travel advisories are gradually easing for general tourism. But can (and should) you travel outside the United States yet?

This is a crazy year for traveling anywhere outside your front door. Flights are still helping people get across the United States and the world for essential reasons. But the reopening of international borders is going to be a slow process. Even though you can book a flight abroad, do you have permission to travel? If so, is it worth your time?

CDC Travel Advisories

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) discourages all unessential travel. This advice doesn’t mean you can’t travel abroad or even between different U.S. states. But if you travel abroad, you will need to follow the corresponding self-quarantine rules for the nations you visit and the United States re-entry rules.

For instance, most nations (including Canada) impose a 14-day self-quarantine once you arrive. You will most likely need to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning to the United States. While the CDC travel advisory isn’t a ban for U.S. citizens, the self-quarantine rules may not be worth the hassle for a blitz trip.

The CDC advisories have more substantial restrictions for foreign nationals trying to enter the United States. As of May 15, 2020, foreign nations might be banned from entering if they have been in these countries within the last 14 days:

  • China
  • Iran
  • Most European countries
  • The United Kingdom and Ireland

Other nations have similar travel restrictions for U.S. citizens who don’t have a second passport for the country they are trying to enter. Make sure you check the current travel restrictions from the other nation before booking your travel. Even though you can buy a flight, the customs officer may not let you pass.

State Department Travel Advisories

Whether or not you can travel abroad depends on where you want to go to. The United States may have travel bans for certain countries. These nations may also have reciprocal bans not letting you enter their borders if you come from a specific country.

In 2020, most travel bans are to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus. Though, there are certain countries that are somewhat difficult to get to such as with North Korea and Iran. Americans can legally travel to both countries but they do need a visa which can be complicated to get. Part of the requirement is that Americans to both countries visit as a part of a tour.

Until a few years ago, Americans couldn’t enter Cuba directly from the United States or using a U.S.-based travel provider.

You can track the latest international travel advisories on the U.S. State Department website. The U.S. State Department issues a travel advisory with a rating between 1 (most safe) and 4 (least safe):

  • Exercise normal precautions (Level 1)
  • Exercise increased caution (Level 2)
  • Reconsider travel (Level 3)
  • Do not travel (Level 4)

Many nations affected by the coronavirus have had a Level 4 warning since February or March 2020. China, for instance, has been a Level 4 (do not travel) since February 4, 2020. The State Department has listed Italy at level 3 (reconsider travel) since February 29, 2020.

Can You Travel To Canada?

Some say that Canada will be the first nation to ease travel restrictions with the United States back to pre-coronavirus policy. As of May 15, 2020, the U.S.-Canada border is still shut for nonessential travel, including tourism. Reports indicate the border may not open until June 21, 2020.

If you enter Canada for a qualifying reason, you will need to observe a 14-day self-quarantine.

Can You Travel To Mexico?

The U.S.-Mexico border closed on March 20, 2020, to nonessential travel. Mexico is reopening some industries starting May 17, 2020. Tourist hotspot Quintana Roo hopes to reopen beginning June 1, 2020, and will begin accepting most international travel in July. Los Cabos, another tourist hotspot, will be open to international tourists, starting in June. However, they’ll be flying into Terminal 1 versus Terminal 2.

You might be able to scoop up a last-minute travel deal as a nearby international trip can be your best option. It currently appears that Mexico is going to be more receptive to tourists than the Caribbean islands when international travel initially opens. If you want a tropical getaway, Mexico is one of your best options.

Travel To The Caribbean

Going to your favorite Caribbean island might be a dicey proposal this summer. Some islands, including Jamaica, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, may start accepting international tourists on June 1, 2020. Other islands are waiting until July 1, 2020, or later.

It also looks like nations are more open to accepting international flights than cruises. The international airport terminals will open first. The first cruise ships may need to wait an additional month to dock.

Travel To Latin America

Argentina has the most restrictive international travel bans for the Americas. Commercial flights to, from, or within Argentina are banned through September 1, 2020. This ban means that American expatriates cannot return to the U.S. as is happening in other countries with airport shutdowns.

Other major tourist destinations in Central America and South America have strict travel measures too. Brazil, Bolivia and Peru might reopen to international tourists at the end of May. However, most Latin American nations are essentially off-limits to foreigners until further notice.

Travel To Europe

A summer trip to Europe is unlikely for most tourists. Greece is one of the most optimistic European countries about welcoming tourists as early as July 1, 2020. This nation has been less-affected by coronavirus than other hard-hit nations like Spain, Italy and France. At this time, the European countries are gradually opening their borders with each other. But if you’re not an EU resident, you may not be able to enter.

Travel To Asia

While Asia was the first corner of the world to feel the effects of the pandemic, the current travel restrictions won’t appear to end soon. It can very likely be 2021 before countries accept tourism in any meaningful amount.

For instance, American expatriates in Thailand who didn’t leave before the travel restrictions began may be able to book a flight as soon as late July. China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Singapore and South Korea are not permitting tourists at this time. Unlike other continents, most of Asia doesn’t have a target reopening date for nonessential reasons.

South Pacific nations like Australia and New Zealand are also closed to tourists for an indefinite period.


Countries around the globe are developing plans for essential business travel. However, you will likely need to follow a 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival. U.S. residents might be able to visit a handful of places in the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada this summer. However, trips to Asia or Europe must wait until 2021 for most.


What Do You Need To Travel Internationally?

You will need a valid passport to travel abroad. Most nonessential travel, including tourism, isn’t allowed in most nations during the coronavirus pandemic. Business and humanitarian travel are allowable in many countries. But you may need to provide official paperwork to prove you’re traveling for an acceptable reason.

You should see links on the travel booking website for current restrictions in your destination. These restrictions will tell you what documents you need and any quarantine measures you must observe after passing through customs.

What Countries Are Under A Travel Advisory?

Most nations in the world are currently under a travel advisory because of the novel coronavirus. The first travel restrictions may start expiring in June or July of 2020. The countries most likely to lift their travel advisory first can be Mexico, Canada, Greece and some Caribbean nations.

You can view the latest U.S.-issued travel restrictions at the U.S. State Department. More importantly, consider the restrictions that other nations have for foreigners trying to enter their country. Even if the United States doesn’t ban you from visiting their nation, you may not be allowed entry from that nation’s customs department for nonessential travel.

Is Mexico Considered International Travel?

Yes. Mexico is considered international travel from the United States whether you arrive by car, plane or cruise ship. A valid U.S. passport book is your best way to enter Mexico, and the only way to enter if flying to Mexico. You can use a U.S. passport card (to save a few dollars) if you’re traveling by land or sea. Mexico may also have you complete a Forma Migratoria Multiple tourist card if you’re going at least 20 kilometers (~12 miles) into the country.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the United States and Mexico border is closed to most nonessential travel. It appears that some restrictions will lift in multiple phases. The first expirations should start in late May or early June. Tourism can be one of the first easements as Mexico’s international airports reopen.

Sources: Forbes