Image of COVID-19 test vials

Travelers entering US must show negative COVID-19 test


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will require all travelers entering the US from abroad to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, starting 26 January.

Under the new order, passengers including US citizens are required to get a viral COVID-19 test within the three days before their flight to the US departs and provide written documentation of their lab test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline. Alternatively, they must provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19.

“If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger,” says the CDC.


This expands on the CDC’s prior requirement that passengers arriving from the UK – where a new variant of COVID-19 emerged – test negative for the virus, via PCR or Antigen test, no more than 72 hours before departure to the United States.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” says CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, “but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations.”

The CDC also recommends that passengers get tested again 3-5 days after arrival and stay home for seven days post-travel to help slow the spread of COVID-19 within US communities from travel-related infections. But it notes that pre-departure testing – with results known and acted upon before travel begins – will help identify infected travelers before they board airplanes.

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Featured image credit to CDC