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At Home Covid Tests Now Accepted For Entry Into The U.S.

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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.

At Home Covid Tests Now Accepted  For Entry Into The U.S.

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.

woman holds a swab into her mouth  for covid19 home test
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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.

video call with doctor

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.

 woman wearing a mask and giving her docs to a doctor in an airport

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.

travelers walking with bags

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.

plane taking off

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.

Mask airplane woman

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.

Read More:

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Countries Open For American Tourists

Italy Plans To Reopen For U.S. Travelers By Mid-May

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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


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Tay

Friday 14th of May 2021

Do you know who we should contact to see if bringing these tests will be allowed? I’m specifically interested in Croatia, if it matters.

Kashlee Kucheran

Friday 14th of May 2021

Do you mean: Will Croatia allow you to bring them inside your luggage and enter the country? For you to then use it for your return into the US? I don't see why they would have any issued with that

Christian

Tuesday 11th of May 2021

"As always, travelers must present the documentation of the test results to U.S. officials at the port of entry." I am not aware that travelers get checked for their test results at the port of entry. Wouldn't it be sufficient being checked before boarding a plane? And why would US officials check on arriving airway passengers and not on their land border entries? Foreign travelers can cross land borders without any test requirements, and they would have to make sure that, if asked, the reason of travel is not for leisure or vacation.

"While fully vaccinated travelers don’t have to quarantine when they arrive, they are still not exempt from the testing requirement." This sentence implies that non-vaccinated travelers may have to quarantine. As far as I am aware, quarantine rules are local rules, not national. In other words, vaccinated travelers have no advantages over non-vaccinated travelers. Let that be clear.

H

Tuesday 11th of May 2021

I'm fully vaccinated. But it's feeling more and more meaningless. Whether you're vaccinated or not, we all have to keep jumping through the same hoops. And there's no end in sight. It's really feeling like this big push to get everyone vaccinated has nothing to do with any virus. The vaccination roll-out was supposed to be the light at the end of the tunnel. But the doom and gloom reports of May, 2021 sound awfully identical to those of May, 2020. I've never thought of myself as a conspiracy theorist, but it feels like there's something terribly deliberate behind this whole thing.

JMC

Tuesday 11th of May 2021

Currently I believe the only test that will provide what the US is requiring is the Abbott’s BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag At-Home Test. It can be purchased from Emed.com. You download the Navica app and you administer the test yourself as the health professional watches you. The professional then, I believe, uploads the test results in that app. If you go ahead and download the Navica app you can browse a little of it to get a better understanding.

Andrew

Tuesday 11th of May 2021

How stupid is that the US still is not allowing proof of vaccine instead of PCR tests or proof of recovery when so many Americans are vaccinated. Must be a matter of time that they do right?

Randy

Wednesday 12th of May 2021

@Andrew, The issue is that some are creating fraudulent vaccination documents. Unfortunately, there is also no single database of the vaccinated to validate against. There is always the few that mess it up for the rest of us.

Tayla W Martin

Tuesday 11th of May 2021

@Andrew, beyond

Kashlee Kucheran

Tuesday 11th of May 2021

We're thinking it will come soon