The US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism is clarifying the impact of the new travel requirements imposed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on travel to or from the USVI to the mainland US.
According to Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte, the new CDC rules do not apply to persons traveling or returning directly from the US Virgin Islands to the US mainland.
The new mandate does apply, however, to international passengers arriving in the United States, including arrivals into the US Virgin Islands, from a foreign country (i.e., anywhere that is not a state, territory, or possession of the United States).
The CDC requirements, which went into effect on Jan. 26, mandate that all airline passengers bound for the US must take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure and show negative test results prior to travel.
While travelers to the US Virgin Islands may not be subject to the same rules as international arrivals, the Department of Tourism is reminding travelers to the territory to use the Travel Screening Portal at usvitravelportal.com to submit the required COVID-19 test results prior to traveling to the territory.
According to the USVI Travel Portal, travelers five years of age or older must take a COVID-19 test and obtain a negative result prior to travel. Those who do not comply with the requirement and who do not receive clearance from the online portal will be unable to board an aircraft to the territory.
“With new variants of COVID-19 circulating in recent months, it is essential to adhere to prevention and control measures since we are still in the midst of a pandemic,” he said, adding that travelers five years of age or older who arrive by marine vessel are also required to receive certification from the portal prior to arriving in the territory.
Some states in the US have enacted COVID-19 travel restrictions, such as the need to provide evidence of COVID-19 testing within a specified period of time, for travelers entering (or returning to) that state. Hence, travelers departing from the US Virgin Islands are advised to check with their intended destination to determine what, if any, COVID-19 travel restrictions or testing requirements are in place. A list of labs in the territory that offer COVID-19 testing is available here.
The tourism head reported that the government of the US Virgin Islands has processed close to 135,000 travelers since the Travel Screening Portal was launched in late July. “The technology undergirding the portal has been designed to be not only innovative but also responsive to changing travel protocols and the territory’s health and safety guidelines,” said Boschulte, who confirmed that the prescreening tool has helped to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the territory.
The Tourism Commissioner and public health officials in the USVI are encouraging residents and travelers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to continue complying with testing, mask-wearing, and social distancing requirements as the vaccination may limit the severity of COVID-19 illness but does not prevent a person from being infected with the virus or spreading it to others. Travelers should note that vaccination does not supersede the territory’s COVID-19 testing requirement.
Travelers who originate in the US Virgin Islands and return to the territory, including those who return within a five-day period, must take a COVID-19 test before returning or have proof of a positive antibody test result within the previous four months. Virgin Islands residents are encouraged to arrange for testing at their intended destination prior to departing the territory.
When traveling to the US Virgin Islands, US citizens enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel, including on-line check-in. As a United States territory, travel to the US Virgin Islands does not require a passport from US citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the US mainland. Entry requirements for non-US citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for everyone except US citizens.