Things have become a bit easier for international travelers entering the U.S. The CDC has announced they are now accepting at-home rapid tests as part of the Covid-19 entry requirements, giving travelers another easier (and possibly cheaper) option.
Updated Requirements by CDC
The U.S. updated its entry protocols in January, requiring all air passengers arriving in the U.S. from a foreign country to get tested no more than 72 hours before their flight departs, and to present the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight.
Only PCR tests and rapid antigen tests were accepted as valid viral tests for entry until last week. Now, the CDC has made an amendment to their requirements that allows travelers to take a self-administered Covid-19 rapid test.
Requirements Of At Home Tests
The at home tests still must meet some specific requirements. They have to be a SARS-CoV-2 viral test (either a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or an antigen test) with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The testing procedure must include a telehealth service affiliated with the manufacturer of the test that provides real-time supervision remotely through an audio and video connection.
That telehealth provider must confirm the traveler’s identity, observe the specimen collection and testing procedures, confirm the test result, and issue a report that meets the requirements of the CDC.
Additionally, airlines and other aircraft operators must be able to review and confirm the person’s identity and the test result details.
As always, travelers must present the documentation of the test results to U.S. officials at the port of entry.
Overall this is a positive change, as it helps travelers who might have trouble getting a test abroad in a country where testing facilities are not as widely available.
Travelers can now pack an approved COVID-19 test in their bag and take it prior to traveling back to the U.S. after having performed it in front of a telehealth provider, rather than having to go and find a testing center which can add stress to the travel experience.
Additionally, while some countries offer free Covid testing, many charge high fees for the results, so this new amendment can also help travelers save money.
“This is an encouraging step in facilitating the international travel process, while continuing to prioritize the safety and well-being of all travelers and employees seeking entry to the U.S.,” the trade group Airlines for America said to USA Today about the approval of at-home tests.
The agency did warn that some countries might restrict travelers bringing certain tests with them if they haven’t been approved by local authorities. Therefore, travelers should check local restrictions before packing a pre-departure test.
It’s a positive sign that the CDC is making the testing requirement easier for international travelers returning to the country, who have also said that fully vaccinated travelers are safe to travel.
While fully vaccinated travelers don’t have to quarantine when they arrive, they are still not exempt from the testing requirement.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories