The Latest Travel Advice, Requirements for the World's Most-Visited Countries

The French Flag waving with Paris and the Eiffel Tower in the background. (photo via iStock/Getty Images Plus/Querbeet)
Patrick Clarke
by Patrick Clarke
Last updated: 7:00 AM ET, Sat September 25, 2021

What You Need To Know

Europe routinely dominated the list of the world's most-visited countries prior to the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, and while travel has gone on a roller coaster ride in the 18 months since, demand is back, and travelers are once again returning to their favorite international destinations. Here's a look at the latest travel guidance* and restrictions for the world's most-visited countries heading into the fall.

*based on the U.S. State Department's and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) latest travel advisories

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom welcomed more than 39 million visitors prior to the pandemic in 2019, but both the State Department and CDC are advising against travel to Great Britain due to COVID-19 as of July 19. The State Department is also asking tourists in the U.K. to exercise increased caution due to the threat of terrorism. Fully vaccinated U.S. travelers to the U.K. will need to take a COVID-19 test on or before their second day in the country while unvaccinated visitors will have to quarantine at home or wherever they're staying for 10 days and take a COVID-19 test on or before the second day and on or after the eighth day.


The most-visited destination in Asia, Thailand, announced this week that it will postpone its planned reopening of Bangkok and a few other major tourism areas to international travelers until November after failing to achieve its vaccination goals. As of August 9, the State Department is recommending that Americans avoid travel to Thailand, and the CDC warns of a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. Still, Americans can visit places like Phuket and Koh Samui with proof of vaccination, a travel health insurance policy that covers treatment for COVID-19 and proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.


The State Department is currently encouraging Americans to reconsider travel to Germany due to the COVID-19 pandemic this fall and also recommends that they exercise increased caution because of the threat of terrorism. The CDC has the country listed at a Level 3 on its Travel Health Notice scale, indicating a high level of COVID-19 within its borders. Despite the guidance, Germany is very much open for travel from the U.S. this fall, but visitors aged 12 and over should expect to provide proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from COVID-19 within the last six months or a negative COVID-19 test in order to gain entry. Both PCR and rapid antigen tests are accepted; however, a PCR test must be taken less than 72 hours prior to entry while a rapid antigen test must be taken less than 48 hours prior to entry. "Travelers who have been in a virus-variant area in the last 10 days must present a negative test, regardless of vaccination or recovery status," the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Germany states.


The State Department issued a Level 3 travel advisory for Mexico on July 12, advising Americans to reconsider travel south of the border due to COVID-19, citing the CDC's Level 3 Travel Health Notice indicating a high level of coronavirus in the country. The advisory recommends travelers exercise increased caution when visiting the states of Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur, which are home to the country's most tourist-friendly destinations in places like Cancun and Cabo. While non-essential travel along the U.S.-Mexico land border is restricted until at least October 21, Americans can fly to Mexico without a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination.


Turkey is another country on the State Department's Level 4 tier due to COVID-19. Officials are also encouraging Americans to exercise increased caution in Turkey due to terrorism and arbitrary detentions, pointing out that some areas have increased risk. Visitors are asked to avoid Sirnak province, Hakkari province and any area within six miles of the Syrian border due to terrorism. U.S. travelers aged 12 and over visiting Turkey this fall will need one of the following to gain entry: proof of vaccination; proof of recovery from COVID-19 within the past six months; a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival or a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test taken within 48 hours of arrival.


"Reconsider travel to Italy due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution due to terrorism," the State Department says in its June 16 Level 3 travel advisory for the coveted European country. U.S. travelers visiting Italy this fall will need a negative PCR or rapid antigen test result produced within 72 hours of arrival and either proof of vaccination or a certificate confirming recovery from COVID-19 within the past six months. Visitors with neither must self-isolate for five days on arrival and undergo a PCR or rapid antigen test at the end of the quarantine. Travelers also need to complete the online EU Digital Passport Locator Form.


The State Department asks Americans to reconsider travel to China due to the arbitrary enforcement of local laws and also advises that they reconsider travel to Hong Kong due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions as of June 16. U.S. travelers are permitted to visit, but they should expect to face significant hurdles as the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in China state that "U.S. citizens who enter China, are screened upon arrival and subject to a minimum 14-day quarantine." Officials recommend that travelers bookmark the U.S. Embassy's COVID-19 page for the latest COVID-19-related restrictions and conditions in China as testing and travel requirements frequently change.


In its latest travel advisory update for Spain, the State Department advised Americans to avoid travel to the country due to COVID-19 and to exercise increased caution due to terrorism and civil unrest. The CDC also warns of a very high level of COVID-19 in Spain, which hosted close to 84 million travelers in 2019. The country remains open to U.S. citizens who can show proof of vaccination and present a QR code generated through the Spain Travel Health portal. Travelers must show either proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test or a certificate of recovery.


France drew more than 89 million visitors in 2019, more than any other country in the world. Two years later, the State Department is advising tourists not to travel to the beloved European destination due to COVID-19. "Exercise increased caution in France due to terrorism and civil unrest," it added in an August 9 Level 4 travel advisory that reflects the CDC's Level 4 Travel Health Notice for the country indicating a very high level of COVID-19.

Nonetheless, France remains open to travel from the U.S. Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to quarantine or present a negative COVID-19 test result as France accepts the CDC card as sufficient proof, according to the U.S. Embassy in France. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals will face more hurdles though. They must present a compelling reason for travel in addition to a negative PCR test performed in the 72 hours before departure or an antigen test performed within 48 hours of departure. "Travelers under age 11 are treated as vaccinated regardless of their vaccination status and do not need to have a COVID test. Travelers ages 11 through 17 are treated as vaccinated if they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent or guardian," the Embassy states.

Find out the latest travel guidance and requirements for international tourists this fall.

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CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

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