Keeping in mind the dismal state of the world, courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic and its second wave, all passengers flying to the US (above the age of 2) will have to show proof of their negative COVID-19 test at least 3 days before the date of departure. The US Department of State also added that passengers have to show proof of recovering from COVID-19 if anyone already tested positive before boarding. This rule is applicable to both US citizens and foreign nationals.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Department of State initiated this rule from the 26th of January for all air passengers entering the US. Those who don’t show this proof will be denied boarding the flight. So, if you’re planning to visit the US for business or tourism purposes, make sure you get your negative PCR test to enter the US not more than 3 days before boarding the flight.
This drastic step taken by the CDC along with President Joe Biden has sparked queries and confusion among several travelers. The requirement of a negative PCR test had sent the local government and like institutions to prepare themselves for offering testing kits to US-bound fliers. However, you have to keep in mind that the rule is not applicable on US land border crossings.
Answers to all your US testing questions
- What type of COVID-19 test will be accepted for flyers to the US?
Travelers who are traveling to the United States via international flights should take a viral test according to the CDC. Both antigen and PCR tests qualify as per the norms set by CDC.
- How much in advance do I have to get tested for entering the US?
The time allowed for testing is not more than 3 days before boarding the flight. Caitlin Shockey, CDC spokesperson, mentions that when you’re going on board a connecting flight to the US, a valid test is only that which is done 3 days before your flight departs to the US. One more rule is that each layover between these connections shouldn’t be anything longer than 24 hours.
In case your connecting flight to the US was booked in a different way and you have longer stays in between, you will again have to get tested within 3 days before the next flight departs for America.
When you’re flying out of the nation for a minimum of 3 days, you may get tested in the US before your departure. While returning, you may take another rapid test.
- Do I require testing if I’m visiting a US territory?
No, you don’t have to test if you’re visiting any US territory. Territories and other possessions like US Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico are exempt, as per the rules of CDC.
- Will my health insurance cover the payment of a test done abroad by a US resident?
Well, this depends entirely on the health insurance plan. But you can certainly file for reimbursement as there’s no harm in asking for one.
- Are there any documents that I need to show?
According to the CDC, fliers need to have a digital copy of their negative test result. A travel industry analyst, Henry Harteveldt, recommends travelers to have a hard copy of their negative PCR test results as against only having a soft copy.
The agents on board may find it tough to read the document on your phone and would you like to give them even the smallest chance to cancel your flight? Bet you wouldn’t!
- What documents would I need if I already had COVID-19?
Within the timespan of the last 3 months, if you’ve recovered from COVID-19, you’ll have to show proof that you tested positive within the last 3 months before boarding the flight and also a letter from your physician stating that you’re allowed and fit to travel.
In case you’ve tested negative and recovered three months back, the CDC asks you to retest and prove that you’re still negative before boarding the flight.
- Who checks the results of the test at the airport?
Airlines should confirm the negative test for all flying passengers and prohibit boarding to anyone who is not able to offer the right documentation of testing negative after extracting the Coronavirus. This totally depends on the place you’re traveling to but most likely, you’ll be asked to offer documentation of a negative PCR test.
- Do these new rules apply to me if I travel by private plane to the US?
Yes, this new rule is applicable to private and commercial flights too, reported the CDC.
- I’ve taken the COVID-19 vaccine. Should I still test?
Yes, even after taking the COVID-19 vaccine, you are bound by the same rules.
- Where do I find a local site for testing when I’m abroad?
This depends according to the country you’re in but it is still recommended that you get a test done at your home country just before boarding the flight for the US. At some places, it can get challenging to test for COVID-19. The CDC doesn’t have any such information on testing locations internationally. However, they suggest you to check the US State Department details and also with the local authorities.
- Will a home test qualify?
As per the order, you need to present a lab report to the public health officials or the airline officials. Nevertheless, a home kit that has been tested in the laboratory should be fine. A viral test done by the DOD or US Department of Defense officials, dependents and other public health officials, tested by some DOD laboratory should meet the requirements of the Order passed by the CDC.
Despite all these rules and regulations for passengers flying to the US, the State Department and the CDC have strongly recommended people to reconsider their travel decisions and postpone any non-essential travel plans. The pandemic is hard-hitting and we have to be watchful at our best to stay safe and unaffected.
Susan Noel is an experienced content writer. She is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where she shares her valuable travel tips with the audience.