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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require a negative COVID-19 test for all travelers boarding international flights to the United States. The announcement was made on January 12 with the rule becoming effective on January 26, 2021.
The expansion of testing requirements applies to both visitors and Americans traveling home. Travelers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test to board their U.S.-bound flight, and the test must be taken no more than three days prior to departure.
What Are My Options?
If you already have international travel scheduled, don’t panic. You have several options to consider.
- Contact your resort. – If you are staying at a resort, contact your resort prior to making any decisions. Many resorts are already offering COVID-19 testing for guests, and many more will be offering this service soon. You’ll likely have to pay for testing, however, this could save you the headache and heartache of canceling your trip.
- Find a local testing site. – You can also search for local testing sites at your destination. If they can provide testing within the timeframe needed to satisfy CDC requirements, you may be able to continue with your trip. To ensure this is possible, it would be smart to do some research and contact these facilities before leaving the U.S.
- Reschedule or cancel your trip. – As a last resort, you may wish to reschedule or cancel your trip. There are indications that this is a temporary order enacted in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases across the U.S. At this time, however, we do not know how long the order will stay in effect.
Keep in mind, this is a developing story. For the latest information and developments, please visit the CDC travel page.
You can also read the official CDC press release here.
Frequently Asked Questions
January 26, 2021
What does the order require?
The new CDC order requires all passengers (age 2 and older) to show proof of a negative COVID-19 prior to boarding an international flight arriving in the United States. The test must have been taken no more than three calendar days prior to departure.
How long will the COVID-19 testing order stay in place?
At this time, we do not know how long these requirements will remain in effect.
Does this apply to cruise ships?
Not yet. However, some cruise companies are suspending operations at this time. Please contact your cruise company for more information.
What kind of COVID-19 tests are approved for entry to the United States?
According to the CDC, only viral tests showing whether you are currently infected with COVID-19 will be accepted.
Do I need to show proof of a negative test if I already had COVID-19?
If you have recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months, you do not need to provide proof of a negative test to board an international flight to the United States. However, you will need to show proof of your positive test (within the last three months) and a note from your healthcare provider that clears you for travel.
Do I need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test if I have been vaccinated?
Yes. Regardless of their vaccination status, all passengers (age 2 and older) entering the United States on an international flight must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to departure.
What type of COVID-19 testing documentation is needed to board my flight?
A paper or electronic copy of your negative COVID-19 test result is required to board all in-bound international flights to the United States. Additionally, the test must be taken within three calendar days prior to departure. Airlines are required to check your documentation prior to boarding.