It’s official — for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the US will introduce a consistent testing protocol for travelers. Effective Jan. 26, anyone flying into the United States from another country will need to show proof they have tested negative for the coronavirus. Here are some frequently asked questions to help clear any confusion:
Frequently Asked Questions
Does this requirement apply to US citizens?
This Order applies to all air passengers, 2 years of age or older, traveling into the US, including US citizens and legal permanent residents.
When do I need to get a test to travel to the US? And what kind of test do I need?
Get tested no more than 3 days before your flight to the US departs. Make sure to be tested with a viral test to determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19. Also make sure that you receive your results before your flight departs and have documentation of your results to show the airline.
What if I recently recovered from COVID-19?
CDC does not recommend getting tested again in the three months after a positive viral test, as long as you do not have symptoms of COVID-19. If you have had a positive viral test in the past 3 months, and you have met the criteria to end isolation, you may travel instead with documentation of your positive viral test results and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official that states you have been cleared for travel. The positive test result and letter together are referred to as “documentation of recovery.”
Who is checking to make sure that people have a negative test or documentation of recovery before they board a plane to the US?
The airline will confirm a COVID-19 negative test result or documentation of recovery for all passengers before boarding.
What happens if I don’t take a test and want to travel to the US?
Passengers traveling to the US are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery. Airlines must confirm the negative test result or documentation of recovery for all passengers before boarding. If a passenger chooses not to provide a test result or documentation of recovery, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.
What happens if I test positive?
People should self-isolate and delay their travel if symptoms develop or a pre-departure test result is positive until they have recovered from COVID-19. Airlines must refuse to board anyone who does not provide a negative test result for COVID-19 or documentation of recovery.
What kind of documentation of my test result do I need to provide?
CDC requires that air passengers arriving in the US have a paper or electronic copy of their test result for review by the airline before you board and for potential review by public health officials after you arrive in the US.
Do I need to get a test before leaving the US?
CDC recommends that you get tested with a viral test (NAAT or antigen) 1-3 days before you travel internationally. Travelers should additionally follow any requirements at their destination.
Does this order apply to all flights? Or just commercial flights?
This order applies to all flights, including private flights and general aviation aircraft (charter flights). Passengers traveling by air into the US are required to have proof of testing regardless of flight type.
What happens if my flight is delayed and it goes over the 3-day limit for testing?
If your flight is delayed before departure, you will need to get re-tested if the delay causes your test to fall outside of the 3-day pre-departure testing period requirement.
If I am connecting through the US to another country, do I still need to get tested?
Yes. Any flight entering the US, even for a connection, will require testing before departure.
Do airlines and operators of private flights or general aviation aircraft need to keep copies of passenger test results?
No, passengers must show a copy of their test results to airline employees or the aircraft operator before boarding, but the airline or aircraft operator does not need to retain copies of test results.
What if I have had a COVID-19 vaccine? Do I still need a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19?
Yes, all air passengers traveling to the US, regardless of vaccination status, are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery.
State Supported Testing Sites
The number of testing sites in South Florida has been changing as vaccines become available. Here’s where you can find them: https://www.floridadisaster.org/covid19/testing-sites/