Can I use an at-home COVID test when traveling internationally?
Returning home from international travel just got a little bit easier for U.S. citizens. The CDC has updated its guidance which allows international air passengers to use at-home COVID-19 tests (or self-tests) to satisfy the testing requirement to reenter the U.S.
Previously only PCR and rapid antigen tests administered by a medical professional were accepted.
Here’s what you need to know.
What Kind of Tests are Allowed?
The self-administered tests must be a SARS-CoV-2 viral test (nucleic acid amplification test – NAAT – or antigen test) with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Tests Must be Supervised
The testing procedure must include remote, real-time supervision by a telehealth service associated with the test manufacturer. The telehealth provider will need to confirm your identity and observe the specimen collection and testing procedures. The provider must confirm the test result and then issue a report that meets the requirements of the CDC’s order. This means you’ll need solid video and audio connection, so make sure you take the test in a place with reliable WiFi.
Airline and Port of Entry Will Review Test Results
When it’s time to fly, your airline must be able to review and confirm your test result and match it with your identity. Keep in mind that you might need to present the documentation of your test results to U.S. officials at the port of entry or local/state health departments (if requested), so keep that information handy.
While this update is good news for travelers, many at-home COVID testing kits still require you to mail your sample to a lab and wait for your results. However, there is one home test that doesn’t require a lab – it meets the CDC requirements and includes a telehealth service. Tests are fairly cheap (ranging from $20-25) and available at many local retailers, including CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens. Each box comes with two tests that are available for use on all travelers aged 15 and older and children as young as two years old (when samples are collected by an adult).
As travel bounces back, this is great news for leisure traveler convenience. We urge you to still take all necessary precautions (pack a mask and wash your hands!) and be sure to check your destination’s requirements and restrictions before hopping on an international flight as many countries aren’t accepting unvaccinated travelers just yet. If you’re considering a trip to Europe, make sure you check out our summer travel page. Happy travels!
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