Do You Need a COVID Test to Travel? US-Bound Travelers Now Need A Negative COVID-19 Test To Re-Enter
With the scare of a new and more transmissible COVID variant, The Center For Disease Control and Prevention announced this week all US-bound international travelers (U.S. Citizens included) will now be required to present documentation of negative COVID-19 test results within 72 hours of their flight. This mandate goes into effect on January 26th, 2021 and there is not yet information of how long it may be imposed. The only time a negative test will not be required is if you are traveling into the U.S via a land boarder (aka Mexico or Canada) or from a U.S territory like Puerto Rico or the U.S.Virgin Islands. Domestic flights DO NOT require test results.
If you are traveling internationally you’ve more than likely already had to go through this whole process, seeing as most countries have required negative test results for entry for quite some time now. The only issue I see for returning citizens, would be if you are traveling back to the United States from a more rural location where it may be hard to find a COVID testing site.
While this adds another layer of stress and potential cost to your travel plans, it will makes things safer all around and many travel companies/hotels are already coming up with ways to make this process easier! Many hotels and resorts around the world are already announcing free on-site COVID tests for guest prior to departure to ensure your vacation is seamless-so don’t go getting all worked up just yet! There is also talk of airlines providing on-site rapid test in the future!
You probably already have tons of questions, like which types of tests are being accepted, what if you only have a layover in the US but are not staying, etc. So let’s break things down!
Table of Contents
WHAT YOU NEED PRIOR TO BOARDING A USA-BOUND FLIGHT
- Documentation, either paper or electronic of negative coronavirus test results within 72 hours of boarding. RAPID TEST RESULTS WILL BE ACCEPTED along with PCR test results (this is huge). Currently it will be up to the airline to check your documentation and they can deny boarding if you don’t have current test results.
- As an alternative, passengers can show written or electronic documentation of recovery from COVID-19 after previous infection in the form of a positive viral test result and a letter from a licensed health care provider or public health official stating the passenger has been cleared to travel.
It is great that they are accepting rapid test results because for one they are significantly cheaper, and two you’ll have your results back within an hour and won’t have to go into a clinic so far in advance. I would recommend a Rapid test be done 1-2 days prior to your flight to be safe. PRC tests are still the more accurate option but from my research they are definitely more expensive especially abroad and you’ll need to get them done at least 72 hours prior to departure (results come back within 48-72 hours).
WHERE SHOULD YOU GET TESTED BEFORE YOU TRAVEL BACK HOME?
You will need to research your options. Most likely, your hotel will offer testing, or at worst case, you will have to get tested at a local lab, hospital or urgent care. Many hotels are already partnering with local labs to provide on-site testing for guest prior to departure like the Baha Mar and Atlantis in the Bahamas, the St. Regis Maldives and the Andaz Mayakoba in Mexico.
For more information about where to get tested reach out to your hotel/resort! If you are traveling to Cabo Mexico, check out my list of COVID testing sites in the Cabo area.
WHAT IF I’VE ALREADY BEEN VACCINATED?
Even if you’ve already been vaccinated, for now you will still need to provide negative test results within the 72 hour window of your flight.
WHAT ABOUT MY KIDS?
Children under the age of 2 years old will NOT be required to provide test results.
WHAT IF MY FLIGHT GETS DELAYED
This is where things can get tricky, especially when you already have to pay out of pocket for tests and then the airlines are delayed and ruin all your bests efforts to be a responsible human. As of now, some airlines may be lenient, but if not you will indeed need to be retested if your test results fall outside of the 72 hour window. That is why again, Rapid tests as close to the departure time as possible are the way to go! You could even get a PCR test 72 hours prior and then has an appointment made already for a rapid test the day or or the day before departure as a backup plan!
HOW CAN I AVOID ALL OF THIS?
WHAT ARE THE BEST DESTINATIONS THAT DO NOT REQUIRE COVID TESTS?
Choose a vacation destination that will not require you to be tested for U.S reentry.
- Puerto Rico – A Caribbean escape without all the hassle! The perfect time to check out one of my favorites – Vieques Island!
- The Florida Keys-Basically a Caribbean island anyways!! Key West here I come.
- U.S Virgin Islands-Check out some of these insane Airbnbs on St. John!
- Hawaii- when is Hawaii not a good idea?? Maui for honeymooners, Kona for adventure seekers and Kauai for jungle seclusion.
- Out West, USA-grab a group of friends and head to Joshua Tree enjoy the epic desert views in this bucket list-worthy mirrored airbnb!
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