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Loopholes Leave Many Travelers Exempt From New U.S. Testing Requirement

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Testing requirements are changing for air travelers entering the U.S. on December 6th, which features a shortened testing period before departure.

The new rules now demand an antigen test be performed 1-day before entry compared to the previous 3-day rule. However, since this new rule is only being applied to those flying into the country, passengers arriving by land or sea borders are wondering what rules apply to them. 

land border testing rules

Here are some situations where the 1-day test does not apply:

  • Driving a car into the U.S. from Canada or Mexico
  • Walking across the land border (for example the pedestrian CBX bridge)
  • Entering the U.S. by sea, most likely on a cruise ship 

Let's dive into these situations to see if your next cruise port or road trip qualifies for a test exemption.

miami cruise port United States

Entering the USA by Cruise Ship

Currently, there are cruises that may start in a destination, like the Caribbean, and end in a U.S. port. There may be testing requirements to enter the Caribbean country where the journey begins, or even to board the ship itself, but if the disembarkation port is in the USA, ship passengers will not be subject to the 1-day testing rule, or any testing rule at all for that matter.

Another example could be a repositioning cruise from Europe to the USA. The embarkation port may be in Spain, Italy, or Portugal, with a transatlantic itinerary finishing in the state of Florida. This is another situation where the testing rule would not apply to disembark the ship onto U.S. soil. 

Note: Entering the USA through a ferry terminal (sea border) still requires proof of vaccination. 

usa and canada land border testing rules

Entering the USA by Land Borders

On November 8, 2021, The U.S. reopened the land borders for non-essential passengers from Canada and Mexico, providing they could show proof of being fully vaccinated. However, a negative test was never part of the deal. 

Therefore, passengers entering the U.S. by land after December 6th will also be exempt from the new 1-day test rule change. 

roadtrip USA

This means that fully vaccinated Canadian and Mexican tourists can take a road trip into the States and not have to worry about the shortened test time, as no test is needed whatsoever. This also applies to walking across the CBX pedestrian bridge between Tijuana and San Diego, a very popular land border option, seeing 3 million people cross in 2019. 

private jet testing rules usa

Entering the USA by Private Flight 
Not Exempt

If you are flying into the U.S. on your private jet, you won’t be exempt from the new 1-day testing rule. The CDC states “This order applies to all flights, including private flights and general or business aviation aircraft (charter flights). Passengers two years of age or older traveling by air into the United States are required to present a negative test result or documentation of recovery regardless of flight type.”

Starting December 6, 2021, any passenger arriving on a private plane will have to adhere to the new 1-day testing timeframe. 

air travel rules 2022 USA

All other air travelers will have to remember the rule changes coming December 6, 2021, especially how the new time-frame works.

To summarize the air passenger arrival rules starting December 6:

  • The time frame requires the test to be performed no longer than 1-day before your departing flight. Not 24 hours as some reports have mentioned. 
  • Proof of vaccination is only required from foreign tourists looking to enter, in combination with their 1-day negative test.
  • Even if you are a fully vaccinated citizen, you will still need to comply with the 1-day test time frame.
  • Rapid antigen tests are permitted, and they also happen to be the cheapest to buy and deliver the fastest results. Other test types include NAAT, PCR, and others, but may be more expensive and harder to obtain in the 1-day time frame. 

What Types of Vaccines Are Required For Entry into the U.S.?

Since proof of vaccination is still required to enter the USA as a foreign tourist (not for citizens and permanent residents) here is what constitutes being ‘fully vaccinated’

For reference, ‘Fully Vaccinated’ in this context means the passenger has received a full dosage of one of the accepted COVID-19 Vaccines 14 days or longer before their departure date.

The USA will accept vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization. This includes Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech, two versions of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Sinopharm and Sinovac.

Accepted vaccines are:

  • Janssen/J&J – One Dose
  • Pfizer/BioNTech – Two Doses
  • Moderna – Two doses
  • Oxford-AstraZeneca – Two doses
  • Sinopharm – Two doses
  • Sinovac – Two dose
  • Covaxin – Two does

The U.S. stated it will accept combinations of the above vaccines in the cases of passengers with mixed doses. 

Read More:

New 1-Day Testing Requirement To Enter U.S. Begins Monday
Masks Will Be Mandatory On All Planes And Trains Until At Least March
Canada Adds Testing and Quarantine For International Arrivals

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This article originally appeared on

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Sunday 5th of December 2021

well PCR testing or what not doesn't catch many strains supposedly, assuming you think a COVID PCR test is even accurate as stated.

So why would one exempt land borders? It's all pointless theater.

just let people live and take whatever precautions / risks they choose to.

Julia Umbarger

Saturday 4th of December 2021

I fly at 8:30am 14th December. So is taking the test at 10am 13th December ok? Sorry for sounding confused.

Julia Umbarger

Saturday 4th of December 2021

@Kashlee Kucheran, thanks

Kashlee Kucheran

Saturday 4th of December 2021

Yes, that is within the time frame

william shatner

Saturday 4th of December 2021



Saturday 4th of December 2021

and as reported previously, many resorts/hotels offer them. and Airports too (more expensive too; I'd rather know results BEFORE checking out!)

don't forget Vitamin C, D, Zinc, Quercetin! (Study show Vitamin D > 30 reduces risk by HALF)

Keep Travelling!


Saturday 4th of December 2021

Thanks for clarifying its not "within 24 hours" as I thought. so "1 day" means either same day or PREVIOUS DAY.

example, if my flight is Saturday 11PM, I could get a test anytime Friday? thats almost up to 47 hours.

(Getting Antigen test is very easy and cheap in the major Mexican cities such as CDMX. Walmart 199 pesos, appointment, 10 minutes - its in the PARKING LOT, look for the TENT. which makes sense, don't expose the store)

Kashlee Kucheran

Saturday 4th of December 2021

Yes correct, if the flight departs Saturday at 11pm, the test can be done at 9:00am friday morning for exmaple.