COVID Test for Travel: What You Need to Know Before Your Next Trip

Going on a trip soon? The last thing you want is to spread COVID-19 or experience delays due to a lack of preparation with regards to travel restrictions and needing a COVID test for travel. This page provides an overview of the different situations in which you might need a COVID test for travel and answers key questions, such as:

  • Do I need to take a COVID test for domestic travel?
  • Do I need to take a COVID test for international travel?
  • How can I check the COVID testing requirements for my international destination?
  • Where can I get a PCR test near me?

COVID Tests for Domestic Travel

The CDC provides different recommendations for domestic travel based on your vaccination status. Please check the restrictions for the state you wish to visit as some states, Hawaii for example, may require testing prior to entry.

For Unvaccinated Individuals

The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated. If you must travel while unvaccinated, follow these guidelines.

Regarding a COVID test for travel for unvaccinated individuals, the CDC recommends getting a viral test 1-3 days before your trip. Additionally, the CDC recommends getting a viral test 3-5 days after your trip. If you are unvaccinated but you have recovered from a confirmed case of COVID within the past three months, the CDC states that you do not need to get tested.

Click here for more information regarding what you should do if one of your COVID tests for travel, whether taken before or after your trip, comes back as positive.

For Vaccinated Individuals

The CDC states that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to get tested before or after domestic trips, but again, be sure to check the guidelines for your destination. The exception to this rule is if you start developing COVID-19 symptoms after your trip; if that happens, the CDC recommends you self-isolate and get tested.

COVID Tests for International Travel

When departing the United States and traveling to another country, whether or not you need a COVID test for travel will be determined by the restrictions in your destination country. Many countries are currently requiring proof of a negative COVID test for entry. There is also the possibility that your destination country will require quarantine upon arrival. However, some countries remain closed to US citizens, so be sure to verify before your departure date. Here is a list of countries that are currently open to US citizens. 

If you’re wondering “Where can I find a PCR test near me?”, click here to search for a nearby testing center.

When departing another country and re-entering the United States, the CDC states that you will need to get tested no more than three days before your flight and show proof of your negative test result before boarding your flight. This requirement is the same regardless of your vaccination status. Click here to read the full order from the CDC.

To exercise an abundance of caution, be sure to follow the CDC’s recommendations on what to do after you return from international travel. Additionally, consider updating your travel plans if your international destination is a level three or four risk assessment level for COVID-19.

How to Check International Travel Requirements During the Pandemic

The United States State Department provides a comprehensive list of country-specific COVID-19 information. Visit the web page and find your destination country to learn more about the state of COVID-19 and what the requirements for COVID tests for travel are.

Additionally, you may consider contacting your airline to ask what the requirements are for your departing and returning flight. Be sure to double-check travel requirements close to the day of your flight to avoid unwanted surprises. 

Click here for more information on what you should do if you get sick with COVID-19 while traveling outside of the United States.

Takeaway

  • According to the CDC, fully vaccinated individuals do not need a COVID test for travel. However, each state has their own restrictions for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals which you should know to prepare for travel.
  • The CDC recommends a COVID test before and after travel if you are unvaccinated.
  • A COVID test for travel is often required to enter foreign countries and is always required to re-enter the United States when returning from an international destination, regardless of vaccination status.

Click here to find a COVID-19 testing center near you.

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