State Travel Restrictions During COVID-19: A Complete Guide


As the coronavirus pandemic continues, travel restrictions are constantly shifting—and not just internationally. Domestically, states have imposed ever-changing restrictions on visitors, from quarantine and testing requirements to, now, floating the idea of using vaccine passports within state lines (New York state just launched its Excelsior Pass, which is currently voluntary).

The good news? As more Americans become vaccinated, the path to safely traveling—domestically and abroad—continues to open up. Just Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that fully vaccinated individuals can travel at “low risk to themselves,” according to new data, “and are less likely to get and spread COVID-19.” In doing so, the CDC added that such travelers no longer need to get tested before departing on a trip, nor do they need to quarantine upon return—that is, unless state or local restrictions say otherwise.

To help you keep track of these ever-changing rules, we’ve rounded up the states with domestic travel guidelines, and we’re continuing to update this frequently. Currently, 20 states—plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico—have such suggestions in place. Read on for our complete guide to COVID-19 state travel restrictions.

All visitors entering Alaska must complete a traveler declaration form and either arrive with proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure or take a test upon arrival and “practice strict social distancing” until results arrive. Alaska residents must meet the same requirements.

Travelers are encouraged to take a second test five to 14 days into the trip, or if and when any symptoms develop, and to wear a face covering while indoors and whenever social distancing is difficult. Make sure to read up on local and borough restrictions as well.

On April 1, California updated its travel recommendations, which included lifting its 120-mile travel advisory encouraging Californians to stay close to home, in addition to removing an advisory for all individuals arriving in California to self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.

Per the new CDC recommendations, further tweaks to the state’s guidelines were made on April 2. Now, vaccinated travelers are no longer required to test or quarantine before or after travel, unless COVID-19 symptoms develop. Unvaccinated travelers, however, are encouraged to avoid non-essential travel in and out of the state until they are fully vaccinated. If non-vaccinated individuals do choose to visit the state, for non-essential reasons, they are asked to get tested one to three days before travel and three to five days upon arrival, before self-quarantining for a full seven days after travel—even if their COVID test is negative. Those who don’t get tested upon arrival are asked to self-quarantine for 10 days after travel. Los Angeles and San Francisco, which previously had their own quarantine recommendations and requirements, have also lifted those guidelines.

Currently, there are travel restrictions in place on each of Hawaii’s major islands. As part of the Hawaii Safe Travels Program launched in October, all individuals traveling to Hawaii from the mainland U.S. are required to submit a negative Nucleic Acid test, taken within 72 hours of travel by a state-approved trusted testing partner. This must either be uploaded to the Safe Travels portal before departure, as part of a mandatory health form submission, or printed out and brought as a hard copy in hand. Travelers who do not submit a negative test per these requirements must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. International travelers from Japan, Canada, and Korea are also allowed to bypass the 10-day quarantine via this pre-testing program.

Note that Kauai previously paused its participation in the pre-testing program on December 2, though it rejoined the program on April 5.

Some islands have additional restrictions for domestic arrivals, and for inter-island travelers. Because the restrictions from one island and county to the next vary widely, and change quickly, make sure to check the website of every Hawaiian destination you plan to visit in advance: You can find Maui’s guidelines here, Kauai’s here, and the rules for the county of Hawaii (which includes the Big Island) here.

While there aren’t any state travel restrictions in place, Illinois’s largest city, Chicago, has its own travel order, which applies to out-of-state visitors and residents. Though the system previously had three tiers—red, orange, and yellow—it switched to a two-tier system on January 26. States with more than 15 daily cases per 100,000 people are deemed “orange,” meaning that the city advises against all travel to those states, and those coming from them will be required to either quarantine for 10 days upon entering Chicago, or arrive with a negative test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. States with less than 15 daily cases per 100,000 people are marked “yellow,” meaning that residents should still avoid non-essential travel to those destinations; however, there are no requirements to enter Chicago. A color-coded map, denoting which states are red, orange, or yellow, can be found here. As of April 6, 24 states plus Washington, D.C., are marked orange.

Kansas officials have mandated a quarantine for those arriving from high-risk locations or situations (the length of quarantine depends on whether or not you have been tested for COVID, per CDC guidelines). Currently, that includes anyone who has traveled on a cruise ship or river cruise on or after March 15, recently attended an out-of-state gathering of 500 people or greater where individuals did not social distance and wear masks, or has visited a number of other states and countries. The full list was last updated on March 26.

The state of Kentucky’s travel advisory follows the latest CDC guidelines: travelers who are fully vaccinated may travel without additional testing or quarantining, though the state discourages non-essential travel for individuals who are not fully vaccinated. Non-vaccinated travelers who must travel are encouraged to get tested one to three days before departure, and to get tested three to five days after travel, in addition to staying home and quarantining for a full seven days (even upon receiving a negative result). Those who receive a positive COVID test are to isolate; those who don’t get tested upon return to Kentucky are to self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.

Maine is requiring all individuals, residents and visitors alike, to self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, unless able to sign a document stating that they have received negative test results within the previous 72 hours. This applies even to Maine residents, for travel as short as day trips, and to international travelers.

There are a few exemptions though: Fully vaccinated individuals and those who have had COVID-19 in the previous 90 days are exempt, as are residents of New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, or Massachusetts. Starting May 1, as part of the Moving Maine Forward plan, the state plans to make all states exempt from this policy—though it notes that, should other states experience spikes of COVID variants, the test or quarantine requirements may be reinstated for visitors from that state at that time.

On March 12, Maryland lifted quarantine requirements for out-of-state travelers (and returning Maryland residents), though the Maryland Department of Health continues to encourage residents to get tested upon returning from out-of-state trips.

As of March 22, the Massachusetts Travel Order has been replaced with a Travel Advisory, meaning travelers no longer need to complete the Massachusetts Travel Form, and guidelines no longer vary based on the state travelers are coming from.

All travelers are still asked to self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, unless they can provide proof of a negative COVID test taken within the previous 72 hours, or test negative after arrival (which requires quarantining until receiving a negative result). New exemptions from this requirement include those visiting for less than 24 hours, anyone who is returning to the state after having been outside of Massachusetts for less than 24 hours, essential workers, and individuals who are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms.

Out-of-state travel is “highly discouraged” by the state of Minnesota, and visitors and residents alike are encouraged to get tested three to five days after returning from travel, and to quarantine for seven days upon receiving a negative test (or, for 10 days if travelers do not get tested). This applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers alike.

The state of Nebraska asks out-of-state travelers to practice strict social distancing, and to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, immediately self-isolating if symptoms develop. International travelers are required to follow testing and quarantine guidelines that include getting a PCR or Antigen test no more than three days before travel (or showing proof of recent recovery from COVID in the form of a physician’s letter than also clears the individual for travel), and to be tested three to five days after travel, in addition to self-quarantining for seven days even after receiving a negative result. Those who do not get tested must self-quarantine for 10 days.

New Hampshire recently lifted its quarantine requirement for domestic travelers, though international arrivals and those who have traveled on a cruise ship are asked to self-quarantine for 10 days after the last day of such travel (this can be shortened by a test taken on day six or seven). The only exemptions are for those who are fully vaccinated, or who have recovered from COVID in the past 90 days. Those who are not required to quarantine are still asked to get tested three to five days after travel.

New Jersey “strongly discourages all non-essential interstate travel” at this time. Travelers entering New Jersey from a destination beyond the immediate region (New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) are advised to self-quarantine in either their home or lodging for 10 days upon arrival, following recommendations from the CDC (travelers who have recovered from COVID in the past three months, or are fully vaccinated, are exempt). That timeline can be shortened by testing, though: The state encourages all travelers to get tested three to five days after travel, and those who test negative are encouraged to quarantine until seven days after traveling. Those who test positive, and those unable to get tested, should self-quarantine for the full 10 days. The above travel guidelines apply to residents and visitors. Additionally, the state asks all travelers to get tested one to three days before travel (and to cancel travel and quarantine for 10 days should a positive result be obtained).

The state notes that compliance is voluntary, but expected—and that travelers unable or unwilling to follow these guidelines should strongly consider postponing their travel to New Jersey.

All visitors and residents are required to self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival or the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter, with an exemption for low-risk areas. Likewise, anyone arriving in the state is strongly advised to seek out a COVID-19 test “at their earliest convenience.” Currently, the only state that meets the requirements to be considered “low-risk” is Hawaii.

As of April 1, asymptomatic travelers entering New York from another U.S. state or territory are no longer required to get tested or quarantine upon arrival. However, the state continues to recommend that all travelers (except those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months) do so. Anyone who has been out of the state for more than 24 hours is still required to fill out a traveler health form (with the exemption of those from contiguous states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont).

The state’s recently debuted Excelsior Pass is a voluntary vaccine passport that is not required for entry to the state—though some venues within New York say they will use it to confirm negative COVID-19 tests or vaccine proof required for guests (read all about it here).

Travelers arriving from other states and countries, including Oregon residents, are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival, during which time interactions should be limited to their immediate household. Those who must cross state borders for essential reasons—which include work, study, healthcare, and security—are exempt, as are asymptomatic, fully vaccinated travelers.

All travelers arriving to Puerto Rico are required to submit an online travel declaration form and show proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival (there is also an option to test upon landing, though this service is only available at the Luis Muñoz Marín airport in San Juan, from 6 a.m. to midnight daily, for a cost of $110). An island-wide curfew continues to be in effect from midnight to 5a.m. daily.

Travelers visiting from mainland states and territories considered a “hot spot” must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours upon arrival, or self-quarantine for 10 days. Those who have been fully vaccinated are now exempt from this rule, though they are still encouraged to get a COVID-19 test between five and ten days after out-of-state travel.

Vermonters are advised against non-essential travel, including within the state. All unvaccinated travelers are required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Vermont, though there is an option to shorten this quarantine by taking a COVID test on day seven of the trip, and receiving a negative result (though you are still expected to monitor for symptoms for the full 14 days).

There is also an option to quarantine before arrival for anyone traveling by private vehicle, which requires either a 14-day quarantine, or a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative PCR test, in the home state. (The state has suggestions on how to make safe, essential stops between your home and Vermont.)

Vaccinated travelers may visit Vermont without quarantining.

On March 1, the state of Washington lifted its quarantine requirement, instead advising Washingtonians and visitors to follow CDC travel guidelines.

Travelers entering the District of Columbia are asked to show a negative test taken within 72 hours of departure, though there is a growing list of exemptions, which includes vaccinated travelers, those who have recovered from COVID-19 in that last 90 days, travelers from a handful of states and U.S. territories (find the most up-to-date list here), and those visiting for less than 24 hours.

The state of Wisconsin continues to “recommend Wisconsinites cancel or postpone all travel, including travel within the state,” and that all travelers follow CDC the latest guidelines for testing and self-quarantine upon entering the state.

[Read More…]