- The U.S. Department of State has no greater responsibility than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas. The Department continues to proactively communicate travel advice and warnings to U.S. citizens amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- As part of our efforts to give U.S. citizens timely information so that they can make informed choices about travel abroad, the Department advises that the United States Government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas. U.S. citizens traveling or residing overseas should follow host country developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination.
- U.S. citizens abroad should also register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP.state.gov) so they can receive important messages from their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, including timely Alerts and updates to Travel Advisories.
Q: Will the State Department help U.S. citizens in countries with limited medical infrastructure return to the United States to get vaccinated?
A: Commercial travel options remain available around the world. If a U.S. citizen wants to return to the United States, but does not have access to sufficient funds for the cost of the ticket, the Department of State is able to offer a loan to cover the cost of a flight home.
Q: Will the State Department or U.S. government help U.S. citizens afford the cost of getting vaccinated overseas?
A: In general, the Department of State is unable to provide funds to cover medical costs for U.S. citizens overseas. In cases of U.S. citizens abroad facing destitution, the Department can offer certain limited types of assistance to eligible individuals; you may find more information about what we can do on our website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/emergencies/emergency-financial-assistance.html.
The Department of State encourages U.S. citizens traveling abroad to check with their health insurance provider to see if their coverage is accepted overseas. Most U.S. insurance coverage, including Medicare/Medicaid, is not accepted overseas. We encourage all U.S. citizen travelers to obtain travel health insurance and to check with their provider to determine if vaccinations are covered.
Q: Given assurances by both President Trump and President-Elect Biden that access to the vaccine for all Americans will be their priority, why isn’t the State Department ensuring U.S. citizens abroad get vaccinated? Why are you vaccinating your own personnel but not private Americans?
A: The Department of State does not provide direct medical care to private U.S. citizens abroad. We are committed to providing all possible consular assistance to U.S. citizens in need overseas, including by providing information on local medical resources when appropriate.
Q: If airlines start requiring COVID-19 vaccination to travel, or the U.S. government starts requiring vaccination or negative tests to enter the United States, will U.S. citizens get stranded abroad? How will the State Department help them?
A: We urge U.S. citizens traveling or resident abroad to make their own arrangements regarding their medical care. We also encourage them to arm themselves with the latest information from Travel.State.gov and Embassy websites, as well as local government public health information sources. We remain committed to providing U.S. citizens abroad with all appropriate consular assistance when necessary.
Q: Is the Department of State going to start requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination for visa applicants?
A: We have no changes to visa requirements to announce at this time. Information regarding required vaccinations for immigrant visa applicants may be found on our website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/the-immigrant-visa-process/step-10-prepare-for-the-interview/medical-examination-faqs.html.
Q: Is the Department of State going to start requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination from U.S. citizens seeking consular services?
A: We are committed to our mission of serving the American people, including through the provision of consular services to U.S. citizens abroad, while protecting the health and safety of our personnel. Our consular teams abroad will continue to provide all appropriate consular services to U.S. citizens in need, regardless of vaccination status. U.S. citizens overseas should check the website of their nearest Embassy or Consulate for information about the COVID-19 safety protocols currently in place for that post.
Q: What about Chinese or Russian vaccines, does the State Department recommend U.S. citizens abroad seek those out if they’re available?
A: The United States has expressed concerns that Russia and the People’s Republic of China are sharing or marketing vaccines with the international community without providing transparent, peer reviewed scientific evidence of their safety and efficacy. U.S. citizens abroad should consult with medical providers they trust, and review information published by relevant public health authorities, as they consider their options for accessing a COVID-19 vaccine.