CDC Changes COVID-19 Testing Requirements for International Flights

by Miles Jackson

A lot of Americans are beginning to travel again thanks to the aggressive US vaccination program. Currently, more than 40% of eligible adult Americans are fully vaccinated. However, through the Center for Disease Control (CDC,) the US government requires negative COVID test results before passengers may enter (or re-enter) the United States. This does create some anxiety for travelers trying to find testing centers while abroad. Now, there’s good news for travelers contemplating an international trip this summer. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) CDC Changes COVID-19 testing requirements for returning to the United States.

Now, at-home COVID-19 tests (including rapid tests) will be accepted at the border!

This is welcome news, especially for travelers seeking to take advantage as Europe Opens to Vaccinated Americans As Early as June 9th!

CDC Changes COVID-19 Testing – Fly Now and Test Yourself

If you’re planning travel out of the country and don’t want to have to worry about finding and visiting a foreign lab to complete a COVID-19 test (and getting the results in time), you can now pack an at-home kit and test yourself. You can test yourself in the convenience of your hotel room before heading to the airport for your flight home.

Specific Requirements of Testing

COVID tests must be taken no more than three days before departure (not necessarily arrival) to the United States.

Your test must follow the following requirements:

  • The test must be a SARS-CoV-2 viral test (nucleic acid amplification test [NAAT] or antigen test) with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • The testing procedure must be supervised by a telehealth service affiliated with the manufacturer of the test. There must be real-time supervision over the sample taking through an audio and video connection.
  • The telehealth provider must verify the tested person’s identity. They must also observe the sample collection and testing. The provider will confirm test results and issue a test result report that complies with the CDC’s Order.
  • Passengers must also be able to present the test results documentation to U.S. officials at the port of entry, if requested.

The test results provided must include the following information for acceptance:

  • Type of test (antigen or NAAT test)
  • Entity who issued the test (e.g. healthcare entity, laboratory, or telehealth service)
  • Test sample collection date
  • Information which provides identification of the test-administer plus one other identifier (full name, plus one other identifier, such as date of birth or passport number)
  • Test result

Where to Get an At Home COVID Test

Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 ag At Home Test

(Image Courtesy of Abbott)

Currently, only one at-home (or self-test) meets the CDC requirements to be used for international travelers seeking to enter (or re-enter) the United States.

Abbot’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag At-Home Test Kit (available at CVS Pharmacies) includes virtual test supervision when purchased through eMed. It can be purchased for $150, which includes six tests. With it, you can take it anywhere in the world and get your results within 15 minutes. The test also does not require a prescription from your healthcare provider.

Need a Personal Self-Test?

Lucira At Home COVID Self-Test

If you are looking for a COVID self-test, I recommend the Lucira Check It COVID-19 Test Kit. It is the first and only single-use FDA EUA authorized PCR quality molecular home test that provides results in 30 minutes or less! It is available from Amazon, so that means quick delivery for most US addresses.

The reason I like the Lucira is you get verified test results on your phone. Lucira developed the LUCI PASS, a free and secure way to receive a digital verified test result on your phone. Take the test then text to the number included in the enclosed instructions. You are guided step-by-step to receive your LUCI PASS verified test result. This is useful for work, school, events, and more. Unfortunately, that is not yet approved by the CDC to meet the entry to the United States requirements.

In time, I do expect the CDC to relax even further, or completely eliminate the negative PCR test result for vaccinated travelers. This could be accomplished through the acceptance of a digital health passport. Digital health passports could provide verification of vaccinations for travelers; negating the need for pre-arrival COVID testing.

You could look for other test kits available here from Amazon.

Go2Kits Ultimate Personal Protection Kit

Go2Kits Ultimate Personal Protection Kit

While traveling make sure you are carrying lots of personal sanitizer and face masks for your protection and the protection of others. For an all-in-one package, Go2Kits All-In-One Ultimate Personal Protection Kit is available for less than $8. The kit includes necessities such as two 3-ply face masks, 4 disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, soft tissues and a guide on hygiene tips.

Can You Enter the US With No Test Results?

Delta COVID-Tested Flights Find a PCR Test Amsterdam Rome

Delta COVID-Tested Flights Find a PCR Test Amsterdam Rome

Even though the CDC Changed COVID-19 Testing requirements, they still do not allow testing upon arrival for entry into the country. In case you are wondering what happens if a traveler refuses (or forgets) to take a test. According to the CDC, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.

RELATED POST: These Countries Are Welcoming Vaccinated Travelers

Quick Summary

The rules have been relaxed a bit requiring negative COVID tests for passengers entering the United States. The CDC Changes COVID-19 testing requirements, now allowing at-home COVID-19 tests (including rapid tests.)

This should help reduce the stress of travel for many. It may also provide a boost to reopening international travel.

Does having a COVID self-test option appeal to you?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

14 comments
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14 comments

James May 19, 2021 - 1:35 pm

End all the testing nonsense and open the borders. And dump the silly masks in the trash while you’re at it. Freedom is finally coming back – LOVE IT.

Reply
Miles Jackson May 19, 2021 - 3:55 pm

James-
Let’s all hope for a return to normalcy through vaccinations. We just need the rest of the world to have access to the vaccines. Then we can talk about freedom of international travel returning.
Thanks for your input.

Reply
Anton May 19, 2021 - 2:08 pm

$ 150 for six tests, which can only be used by one person! This is outrageously expensive for a family traveling abroad. why doesn’t proof of vaccination works for rentry?

Reply
Miles Jackson May 19, 2021 - 3:52 pm

Anton-
I agree with you. That is the appeal of a digital health passport which provides verification of vaccination. Hopefully both the United States will further change their restrictions prior to Europe’s reopening.

Reply
Geoff May 19, 2021 - 8:11 pm

Really? I just returned from the Bahamas yesterday and had to comply with the CDC’s “old” rules. In the Bahamas, testing is really easy and cost us $35. This new option seems like much more of a hassle. I’m also vaccinated, and because of that didn’t have to get tested to go there. The US wants us to believe in the effectiveness of the vaccines (which I do). But the requirement to get tested to come back seems to send a message that they don’t. And they wonder about vaccine hesitancy? If they believe that they vaccines are effective, they should act like it.

Reply
Miles Jackson May 19, 2021 - 8:32 pm

Geoff-
Certainly the governments in the global community need to address all of these issues. Vaccine availability, costs, verification and more. If digital health passports can assure border officials of vaccination then it’s a logical conclusion to accept the passenger for entry into any country. The next four-eight weeks will tell us a lot as Europe begins to reopen and other countries are accepting vaccinated visitors.

Reply
Stephen Strachan May 20, 2021 - 4:40 pm

When EXACTLY do these new CDC guidelines take effect OFFICIALLY??? Where are passengers from Ukraine supposed to be able to get this test???

Any help/guidance is greatly appreciated! ss

Reply
Miles Jackson May 20, 2021 - 5:05 pm

Stephen-
The link to purchasing this COVID (and other tests) are found in the article.
You can search Amazon here for all types of COVID self-tests and they deliver globally.
Best of luck!

Reply
Nicole May 25, 2021 - 5:43 pm

This is a great article, but one thing still has me quite confused… Why is this the only BinaxNOW COVID-19 test that meets the CDC’s requirements for testing? There are other BinaxNOW antigen tests that have the exact same contents, are approved for the use under an EUA, and are identical in every way to this test. The only difference is subtle changes in the artwork on the box- and most importantly, you can purchase 2 instead of 6. Can you clarify why the 6-pack is approved, but not the 2-pack version of the exact same test? And where exactly this particular detail is specified in the CDC order?

Reply
Miles Jackson May 25, 2021 - 6:06 pm

Nicole-
Great question and I reached out to Abbott Labs for some information.
As best I understand “The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card 2 Home Test is to be performed only with the supervision of a telehealth proctor.” It is this fact, that some supervision is involved with the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card 2 Home Test which allows it to meet the CDC’s requirement.
However, CVS Pharmacies appears to have a BinaxNOW kit which is approved by the CDC.

Reply
linda June 10, 2021 - 4:09 pm

If the [vaccination] card is not enough proof then why did we bother to get the shots. The card with the shot information on it should be enough PROOF of shot, we should not need a passport of electronic information for some hacker to get ahold of and run a much with. Enough is enough.

Reply
Miles Jackson June 10, 2021 - 4:24 pm

Linda-
With about 195 countries trying to negotiate a return to travel, trust is a big issue. Forgery of documents has always been a concern. Governments tend to trust digitally verified documents more. With so much at stake, this explains why a digital health passport is valued.
I hear your point; it’s just the enormity of the issue, problems and consequences that are to play here. Plus the idea of DHP has gotten a lot of traction.

Reply
Zack June 12, 2021 - 10:27 am

I bought the binaxnow home test 6pack and used and packed it with us for our trip to Cozumel. The test itself was easy to do, but make sure to pack some spares because one of them had a defective card (luckily I packed all 6 for our family of 4)

The “NAVICA” app that nicely shows results is hyped in the marketing materials but was completely confusing to the Mexican counter staff and they would not allow it! Do not bother showing them the app as it got me no where! Instead, what worked was a pdf attachment that gets sent after each test to your email. After a stressful discussion on why the app results are not valid I managed open the emailed PDFs which they accepted!

Given the stress and lack of recognition by local authorities, I would next time just use a local clinic. Perhaps other places are better…

Reply
Miles Jackson June 12, 2021 - 5:35 pm

Zack-
Thank you for sharing your experience with the BinaxNOW tests in the ‘real world’ of international travel.
I would expect different reactions from different locales.

Reply

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