United States: Coronavirus Test Required for All International Arrivals

United States Coronavirus Test Required International Travel


The U.S. Will Require COVID-19 Testing for All International Arrivals Effective January 26, 2021, per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Here are the details:

  • All passengers 2 years old or older arriving on an international flight to the U.S. must have a negative COVID-19 test result
  • The COVID-19 test must be taken within the three calendar days prior to the departing flight to the United States.
  • For passengers with a connection, the test must be within the three calendar days prior to the first flight, assuming no layover of more than 24 hours
  • The coronavirus test must be a viral test: it may be either a nucleic acid amplification test or rapid antigen test
  • Passengers who have recovered from COVID-19 must present written or electronic documentation of recovery after previous SARS-CoV-2 infection as 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
  • Airlines must confirm passengers' negative COVID-19 test results during check-in


Expands Testing Requirement from the UK Arrivals to All International Arrivals

Previously, as of 12/28/20, all UK arrivals to the U.S. were required to have a negative coronavirus test result prior to boarding their flight, due to the worrisome new B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant which is up to 70% more infectious.

The new CDC testing order means that international travelers will need to ensure that they can obtain a COVID-19 test result in time for their flight, which can be a concern in places that struggle with testing capacity.


Destinations With Good Testing Capacity, Hawaii Could Benefit

Certainly the CDC testing requirement may prompt some to delay travel altogether, particularly in light of rising cases in most states. For those who do travel, destinations that have good testing capacity are more attractive, for example:

  • Anguilla: visitors can schedule an in-hotel or in-villa COVID-19 test 3 days prior to their departure, for a fee
  • Bermuda: visitors are required to have PCR tests on Day 4, 8 and 14, so by timing one's return properly, one of the mandatory tests can serve as the pre-flight test
  • St. Barths: the French Red Cross mobile testing site in St. Jean, which provides rapid antigen testing is usually open Monday-Friday 8am-3pm and Saturday 8am-12noon, and testing is free (you must present your passport).
  • Turks & Caicos: ACCU Diagnostics in Providenciales provides COVID-19 testing weekdays 9am-5pm. It's also possible, for an additional fee, to have a doctor come to your hotel or villa to provide the COVID-19 test.

The testing requirement also makes U.S. destinations such as Hawaii more attractive. Hawaii requires a negative COVID-19 test result from one of the state of Hawaii's testing partners, taken within the 72 hours prior to the flight departing to Hawaii, but of course no test is needed to return to one's home state.

Will the CDC COVID-19 test requirement for arriving international travelers impact your travel plans?

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