Covid-19 update: Negative test required for inbound travel to the United States

On January 12, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced all arrivals into the United States will need to show proof of a recent, negative COVID-19 test before boarding.  

This order will go into effect starting on January 26, 2021 in effort to prevent the spread of the virus as air passengers arrive from foreign countries It will apply to all flights, including private flights and general aviation aircraft (charter flights). 

This requirement directs all travelersU.S. citizens and legal permanent residents aged 2 years or older, to get tested no more than three days before their flight departs. The only supplement for a negative test is documentation of having recovered from COVID-19; otherwise, a letter from a healthcare provider stating the individual is cleared to travel. 

A viral, NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test), or antigen test should be scheduled to determine whether there is a COVID-19 infection. A verifiable laboratory test result must be in the form of written documentation (paper or electronic copy) and in hand to show the airline prior to boarding. This information identifies the person, a specimen collection date and the type of test. The airline will be responsible for confirming a negative test result or provided authorization for all passengers.  

According to the CDC, if an individual tested positive and recovered from COVID-19, they do not need to be tested again, as long as they are experiencing no symptoms, have isolated accordingly, and a three-month window has passed. A person in this position must then provide proof of the positive test, and a letter addressing “recovery” from a public health official or provider. 

Air passengers that are resistant to these measures and do not provide the necessary documents will be denied boarding by the airline. If a person or group tests positive, these individuals should self-isolate and delay their travel until recovering from COVID-19.   

Information for this article was supplied by the FAQ page on the Center for Disease Control website, and additional information can be located here. Furthermore, the CDC recommends that a viral test (NAAT or antigen) is taken one to three days before outbound, international travel. To learn more about specific destinations and their requirements, visit here.