Effective January 26, all travelers to the United States ages 2 and older must present a negative COVID-19 viral test result or evidence of having contracted and recovered from COVID-19. The details published by the CDC are as follows:
Q. Which test should I take?
A viral test is defined as “a viral detection test for current infection (i.e., a nucleic acid amplification test or a viral antigen test) approved or authorized by the relevant national authority for the detection of SARS-CiV-2”
Q. When should I take the test?
The answer depends on your flight.
- The test sample must be collected within the 3 calendar days before the flight departs for a direct flight.
- If you are taking a connecting flight, the test sample must be collected within the 3 calendar days before departure of the initial flight ONLY IF
- The connecting flights were booked as a single passenger record with a destination in the U.S., and
- Each connection is no longer than 24 hours, and
- The airline has instructed the passenger to comply with COVID safety protocols during the connection(s).
- If the flight is delayed and the test collection is more than 3 days old, the traveler must be retested
Q. What do I need to present at the airport?
- Test results can be on paper or electronic.
- The Name and DOB on the test results must match the passport.
- Every passenger also must also complete an attestation provided by the airline.
Q. How do I document I have recovered from COVID-19?
Documentation of recovery from COVID-19 includes:
- Documentation of a positive test and a signed letter on official letterhead that contains the name, address, and phone number of a licensed health care provider or public health official stating the passenger has been cleared for travel.
- The positive test was within 90 days before the flight to the U.S.
- The name and DOB on the letter matches the travel document.
- The test performed was a viral test.
- The test results states “Positive,” “SARS-CoV-2 RNA detected,” “SARS-CoV-2 Antigen detected,” or “COVID-19 detected.”. A test marked “invalid” is not acceptable.
Q. Who is exempt from testing?
Those exempt from the requirement include:
- Crew members of airlines or other aircraft operators (provided they follow FAA safety guidance)
- Airlines or operators transporting passengers with COVID-19 with CDC authorization
- Federal law enforcement while on official duty and carrying out a law enforcement function and members of the U.S. military when traveling under competent orders, if the military member is ordered to follow COVID precautions.
- Travelers with an airline with a waiver based on CDC determination that a foreign country lacks testing capacity. The airline or aircraft operator requests this waiver, not the traveler.
- Infants under 2 years of age
Q. Do I still have to quarantine when I arrive in the U.S.?
The CDC recommends a post-arrival test 3-5 days after arrival, along with self-monitoring and a 7-day stay at home/hotel room period.
Q. Does this requirement apply to U.S. citizens?
This requirement applies to U.S. citizens as well as foreign nationals.
Q. Can EU citizens now travel to the U.S.?
The Presidential Proclamations remain in effect. Therefore, from Europe, a national interest exemption (NIE) is still required.
Q. What if I refuse to take the test?
Individuals who refuse to be tested and cannot show recovery from COVID will be denied boarding.
Q. What if I am just transiting through the United States?
Transit through the U.S. also requires a test.
Q. I have had the COVID-19 vaccine. Does the test requirement still apply?
The requirement applies EVEN IF the traveler has had the COVID vaccine.