The free at-home Covid-19 tests that are set to be given to Americans by the Biden administration will not work for travel. Whilst Americans are set to be able to take advantage of the free tests from next week, those hoping to use them for travel purposes could be in for disappointment, with the likelihood being that many destinations will not accept the tests as part of their entry requirements – including the US for those aiming to use them to return home.
Thankfully though, there are several types of at-home tests that will be suitable for travel purposes – though most will need to be proctored in order to be accepted. Here’s a look at why the free at-home tests won’t be accepted for travel when they are rolled out next week, and a look at which at-home tests Americans can use for travel purposes.
Home Tests Not Accepted – Information For Travelers
In order to be able to enter the US or return there from an overseas trip, all travelers must now show proof of a negative Covid-19 viral test taken within one day of departure for the US. These tests can be either rapid antigen tests (also known as lateral flow tests) or PCR tests. However, travelers should note that not every test of these types will be accepted by the US – and that’s certainly the case with the home test kits due to be available next week.
From January 19th, Americans will be able to have four at-home tests per address delivered to their homes, with more that 400 million test kits set to become available. Yet whilst these are the same kind of tests that can be used for travel, these test kits will not be able to be used as proof of negative testing prior to entering the US or most other countries around the world.
The reason why they cannot be used is because they are self tests, which means they are not proctored by a medical professional. Some test kits require a consultation with a telehealth provider through the means of a video call, which allows the testing to be supervised – or proctored – to ensure it is being carried out correctly and that the result that comes from the test is an accurate one. Once finished, a report confirming the identity, the name of the laboratory or healthcare entity, the type of test, and the specimen collection date is produced. These tests are the types that are accepted for travel.
Given that the free at-home tests that are due to be available from the 19th are not overseen by a medical professional, there is no way to verify that the test was carried out correctly, or that the result was an accurate one, and no documentation is provided – meaning that they cannot be accepted for travel purposes. This is also the case in the UK, where NHS test kits are also not accepted for travel for similar reasons.
Thankfully, there are several types of at-home tests that are accepted for travel purposes. These include:
- BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Home Test – a trained telehealth professional will guide the users through the test via video call, and wk deliver their test results over email
- Ellume COVID-19 Home Test with Azova – travelers take a 15-minute test with a video observation, after which results are delivered via app or email
- Detect Covid-19 Test – travelers must also purchase a voucher for a video observation session that comes with certified report for travel
Travelers should carefully check the entry requirements of their destinations to ensure that their test is accepted, and for any other requirements they may need to satisfy in order to gain entry.
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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