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Official Travel

Federal employees should adhere strictly to CDC guidance for domestic and international travel before, during, and after official travel.

UpdatedQ: Are there any restrictions on official travel for Federal employees?

A: No. There are no Government-wide limits on official travel (i.e., travel conducted under an official travel authorization) for Federal employees, regardless of their vaccination status. Employees should follow their agency’s travel policy.

In approving official travel for employees, agencies should:

  • Inform those employees that CDC recommends that individuals make sure they are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines before travel;
  • Recommend that those employees consider being tested for current infection with a viral test as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 3 days) before travel;
  • Instruct those employees to adhere strictly to CDC guidance for domestic and international travel before, during, and after official travel; and
  • Instruct those employees to check their destination’s COVID-19 situation before traveling, including given that State, Tribal, local, and territorial governments may have travel restrictions in place.
  • If an employee who is not up to date with COVID-19 vaccines travels internationally to the United States during their official travel, then agencies must require such employees to follow agency quarantine protocols and not enter a Federal facility or interact with members of the public in person as part of their official responsibilities for at least 5 full days after their travel. Employees should telework during quarantine if they are able to do so.

    To be consistent with Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, agencies would need to ask employees if they are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines when approving official international travel, for the purposes of implementing agency quarantine protocols.

    See FAQs on Leave for more information about leave associated with quarantine following international travel and with quarantine after having a known close contact with someone with COVID-19, including during or following official travel.

    Agencies may have collective bargaining obligations regarding implementation of any changes to official travel policies that have been in place for bargaining unit employees.

    NewQ: Should Federal agencies recommend or require employees to complete CDC-recommended COVID-19 testing before and after official travel? Can the expenses associated with this testing be claimed on a travel voucher for employee reimbursement?

    A: When CDC recommends that travelers consider COVID-19 testing for current SARS-CoV-2 infection with a viral test prior to or following travel, agencies should recommend to employees traveling on official business that they consider being tested consistent with such CDC guidance. When CDC otherwise recommends or requires COVID-19 testing prior to or following travel, agencies must require employees traveling on official business be tested consistent with such CDC guidance, pursuant to Executive Order 13991. Agencies should provide for any recommended testing and must provide for any required testing associated with official travel at no cost to the employee, such as through the agency’s screening testing program, the agency’s in-house capabilities for diagnostic testing at the worksite, or through an alternative process determined by the agency. The cost of such testing recommended or required for official travel, and not available through a Federal dispensary or not covered (or reimbursable) through travel insurance, can be claimed in a travel voucher as a Miscellaneous Expense under agency travel policies.

    UpdatedQ: Should agencies limit official travel for individuals who have had a known close contact with someone with COVID-19?

    A: If an individual has had a known close contact with someone with COVID-19 and is recommended to quarantine for 5 days after the close contact, then pursuant to Executive Order 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance, agencies must not approve official travel for 5 days after the close contact. In addition, agencies should not approve official travel for such individuals during days 6-10 after the close contact unless the official travel is urgent, necessary, and mission-critical, given CDC guidance that it is best for these individuals to avoid travel for a full 10 days after the close contact.

    In the rare circumstances in which the agency has an urgent, necessary, and mission-critical need for the individual who had a close contact and is recommended to quarantine to undertake official travel during that time period of 6-10 days after the close contact, the agency must ensure the individual is tested 5 days after the close contact. If the test result is negative and the individual remains without COVID-19 symptoms before traveling, the agency must instruct the individual to wear a well-fitting mask when around others for the duration of the travel that falls within the 10 days after the close contact. If either the test result is positive or the individual develops COVID-19 symptoms, the agency must not approve the official travel for the individual and must instruct the individual to follow agency protocols on isolation.

    If an individual has had a known close contact with someone with COVID-19, is not recommended to quarantine due to being up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, and has not had confirmed COVID-19 within the previous 90 days, then agencies may approve only mission-critical official travel during days 1-5 after the close contact. The agency may approve any official travel after that period, consistent with the agency’s travel policy. Agencies must recommend to the individual that they be tested for current infection with a viral test as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 1 day) before travel. If the test result is negative and the individual remains without COVID-19 symptoms before traveling, the agency must instruct the individual to wear a well-fitting mask when around others for the duration of the travel that falls within the 10 days after the last close contact. If either the test result is positive or the individual develops COVID-19 symptoms, the agency must not approve the official travel for the individual and must instruct the individual to follow agency protocols on isolation. Agencies must also require that such individuals be tested at least 5 full days after they last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

    If an individual has had a known close contact with someone with COVID-19, is not recommended to quarantine, and has had confirmed COVID-19 within the previous 90 days, then agencies may approve official travel, consistent with the agency’s travel policy. If the individual remains without COVID-19 symptoms before traveling, the agency must instruct the individual to wear a well-fitting mask when around others for the duration of the travel that falls within the 10 days after the close contact. If the individual develops COVID-19 symptoms, the agency must not approve the official travel for the individual and must instruct the individual to follow agency protocols on isolation and testing.

    NewQ: What should agencies do regarding official travel for individuals who develop COVID-19 symptoms or have a positive viral test 10 full days or less prior to their intended departure date?

    A: Pursuant to Executive Order 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance, agencies must not approve official travel (i.e., travel conducted under an official travel authorization) for individuals who have COVID-19 for 10 full days after their first day of symptoms, or after the date of a positive viral test for asymptomatic individuals.

    If an agency determines that an employee absolutely must undertake urgent, necessary, and mission-critical official travel during days 6-10 after their first day of symptoms, or after the date of a positive test for an asymptomatic individual, then the agency must instruct the employee to take other precautions for the entire duration of their travel during the 10 days after their first day of symptoms, or after the date of a positive test for an asymptomatic individual, including wearing a well-fitting mask when around others (see FAQs on mask-wearing) and, to the extent possible, avoiding eating and drinking around others, avoiding environments such as dining facilities and gyms where they may be unmasked around others, avoiding people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and avoiding nursing homes and other high-risk settings.

    The individual must also comply with the CDC requirement for testing prior to international travel to the United States.

    NewQ: What should agencies do if an employee has probable or confirmed COVID-19 while on official travel?

    A: If an employee has probable or confirmed COVID-19 while on official travel (i.e., travel conducted under an official travel authorization), then pursuant to Executive Order 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance, agencies must instruct the individual to follow agency isolation protocols and not undertake further travel, including return travel, for 10 full days after their first day of symptoms, or after the date of a positive viral test for asymptomatic individuals. The agency is responsible for all costs associated with travel and lodging expenses, as well as the cost of any diagnostic testing, in these circumstances.

    If an agency determines that an employee absolutely must undertake urgent, necessary, and mission-critical return travel during days 6-10 after their first day of symptoms, or after the date of a positive test for an asymptomatic individual, then the agency must instruct the employee to take other precautions for the entire duration of their travel during the 10 days after their first day of symptoms, or after the date of a positive test for an asymptomatic individual, including wearing a well-fitting mask when around others (see FAQs on mask-wearing) and, to the extent possible, avoiding eating and drinking around others, avoiding environments such as dining facilities and gyms where they may be unmasked around others, avoiding people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and avoiding nursing homes and other high-risk settings.

    The individual must also comply with the CDC requirement for testing prior to international travel to the United States.

    UpdatedQ: What should agencies do if an employee comes into close contact with someone with COVID-19 during official travel?

    A: If an employee comes into close contact with someone with COVID-19 during official travel (i.e., travel conducted under an official travel authorization), and the employee is recommended to quarantine for 5 days after the close contact, then pursuant to Executive Order 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance, agencies must instruct the individual to follow agency quarantine protocols and not undertake further travel, including return travel, for 10 full days following the close contact. The agency must also instruct the individual to take other precautions during this period, including wearing a well-fitting mask when around others (see FAQs on mask-wearing) and, to the extent possible, avoiding eating and drinking around others, avoiding environments such as dining facilities and gyms where they may be unmasked around others, avoiding people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and avoiding nursing homes and other high-risk settings.

    In the rare circumstances in which the agency has an urgent, necessary, and mission-critical need for the individual who had a close contact and is recommended to quarantine to undertake official travel, including return travel during that time period of 6-10 days after the close contact, the agency must require the individual to be tested 5 days after the close contact. If the test result is negative and the individual remains without COVID-19 symptoms before traveling, the agency must instruct the individual to wear a well-fitting mask when around others for the duration of the travel that falls within the 10 full days after the close contact. If either the test result is positive or the individual develops COVID-19 symptoms, the agency must not approve the official travel for the individual and must instruct the individual to follow agency protocols on isolation. Any employees who are travelling with the individual who has tested positive should be instructed to follow agency protocols for quarantine as appropriate.

    If an individual has had a known close contact with someone with COVID-19 during official travel, is not recommended to quarantine due to being up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, and has not had confirmed COVID-19 within the previous 90 days, then agencies may approve only mission-critical official travel, including mission-critical return travel, during days 1-5 days after the close contact. The agency may approve any official travel, including return travel, after that period, consistent with the agency’s travel policy. In these circumstances, the agency must recommend to the individual that they be tested for current infection with a viral test as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 1 day) before travel. If the test result is negative and the individual remains without COVID-19 symptoms before traveling, the agency must instruct the individual to wear a well-fitting mask when around others for the duration of the travel that falls within the 10 full days after the close contact. If either the test result is positive or the individual develops COVID-19 symptoms, the agency must not approve the official travel for the individual and must instruct the individual to follow agency protocols on isolation. Consistent with CDC guidance and agency quarantine protocols, agencies must also require that such individuals be tested at least 5 full days after they last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

    If an individual has had a known close contact with someone with COVID-19 during official travel, is not recommended to quarantine, and has had confirmed COVID-19 within the previous 90 days, then agencies may approve the employee’s return travel. If the individual remains without COVID-19 symptoms before traveling, the agency must instruct the individual to wear a well-fitting mask when around others for the duration of the travel that falls within the 10 days after the close contact. If the individual develops COVID-19 symptoms, the agency must not approve the official travel for the individual and must instruct the individual to follow agency protocols on isolation and testing.

    The agency is responsible for all costs associated with travel and lodging expenses, as well as the cost of any diagnostic testing, in these circumstances.

    (revised on June 24, 2022 to correct an inadvertent typographical error)

    NewQ: What should agencies do if an employee develops COVID-19 symptoms during local travel on official business (i.e., local travel on official business beyond their commute to and from their worksite and that is not conducted under an official travel authorization, such as local field work or location visits for which the employee uses public transportation to transit between locations during the work day)?

    A: If an employee develops COVID-19 symptoms during local travel on official business (i.e., local travel on official business beyond their commute to and from their worksite and that is not conducted under an official travel authorization), then pursuant to Executive Order 13991, agencies must instruct the individual to exit their worksite and/or cease interactions with members of the public in person as part of their official responsibilities, consistent with CDC guidance on isolation and the workplace safety protocols set forth by their agency, and monitor their symptoms. The employee’s local commute to the location where they will isolate is not duty time.

    NewQ: What should agencies do if an employee who is undertaking local travel on official business (i.e., local travel beyond their commute to and from their worksite that is not conducted under an official travel authorization, such as local field work or location visits for which the employee uses public transportation to transit between locations during the work day) is notified of having had a close contact with someone with COVID-19?

    A: If an employee who is undertaking local travel on official business (i.e., local travel on official business beyond their commute to and from their worksite and that is not conducted under an official travel authorization) is notified of having had a close contact with someone with COVID-19 and is recommended to quarantine, then pursuant to Executive Order 13991, agencies must instruct the individual to exit their worksite and/or cease interactions with members of the public in person as part of their official responsibilities, consistent with CDC guidance on quarantine and the workplace safety protocols set forth by their agency, and monitor their symptoms. The employee’s local commute to the location where they will quarantine is not duty time.

    If an employee who undertakes local travel on official business (i.e., local travel beyond their commute to and from their worksite that is not conducted under an official travel authorization) has had a known close contact with someone with COVID-19, is not recommended to quarantine due to being up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, and has not had confirmed COVID-19 within the previous 90 days, then the agency may approve the employee proceeding with only mission-critical official business that requires local, same-day travel on indoor public-transportation conveyances during days 1-5 days after the close contact. The agency may approve any official travel, including return travel, after that period, consistent with the agency’s policy related to local travel. Agencies must require that such employees be tested at least 5 full days after they last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

    If an employee who undertakes local travel on official business (i.e., local travel beyond their commute to and from their worksite that is not conducted under an official travel authorization) has had a known close contact with someone with COVID-19, is not recommended to quarantine, and has had confirmed COVID-19 within the previous 90 days, then the agency may approve the employee proceeding with official business that requires local, same-day travel on indoor public-transportation conveyances, consistent with the agency’s policy related to local travel. Agencies must require that such employees be tested at least 5 full days after they last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

    In each of these circumstances, the agency must also instruct the employee to take other precautions when working onsite at an agency workplace or interacting with members of the public in person as part of their official responsibilities for 10 full days after the close contact, including wearing a well-fitting mask when around others (see FAQs on mask-wearing) and, to the extent possible, avoiding eating and drinking around others, avoiding environments such as dining facilities and gyms where they may be unmasked around others, avoiding people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and avoiding nursing homes and other high-risk settings.