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What You Need to Know about COVID Testing for Travel

by | Dec 24, 2023 | Uncategorized

With the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in full swing, the number of COVID-19 cases is dropping in most places in the U.S.  This is good news for everybody, and many people are enjoying the excitement of being able to make travel plans once again.

But before you pack your suitcase for your next adventure, it’s important to determine whether your travel destination has any requirements for COVID-19 testing. Depending on where you’re going – and even where you’re planning to come home to – you may need to make plans for a pre-trip test soon.

We’ve created a guide that explains COVID test requirements for traveling, providing details for both domestic and international travel. Using this information, you can be better prepared for a stress-free travel experience, no matter where you’re headed.

What are the Requirements for COVID Testing for Traveling?

Even as we seem to be making excellent steps forward towards a new normal, certain COVID safety restrictions are still to be aware of. Many travel destinations have relaxed some regulations for visitors, but others still maintain strict rules.

Whether or not you will need to get a COVID test before traveling largely depends on where you are planning to go. Within the United States, required testing is not as common as it is for international destinations. 

Domestic Travel: COVID Testing Requirements

Currently, COVID regulations for domestic travel are fairly minimal in the U.S. However, there are certain states that may ask for a pre-travel test. 

For example, the state of Hawaii currently requires arriving visitors (5 years of age and older) to either present a qualifying negative COVID test result or participate in the mandated quarantine period. An approved testing facility must administer the testing. 

International Travel: COVID Testing Requirements

International travelers are still required to provide evidence that they are free from COVID-19 infection as a condition of traveling to many international destinations. Most international destinations specifically require a COVID-19 PCR test to be taken before travel.  But because the requirements often vary from destination to destination, many travelers end up feeling confused about what they need to do.

Keep in mind that you may also be required to complete testing for your return to the U.S. At the time of this article’s publishing, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control requires all air passengers arriving in the U.S. (2 years of age and older) to show documentation of a negative COVID test that was performed no more than three days before travel. This rule applies to both U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents and travelers from foreign countries. You can expect to be asked to present your test result before boarding your flight to the U.S.

Here are some helpful details to be aware of when you’re planning to travel internationally:

    • Most destinations requiring a COVID-19 test to travel do place a time window on when the test should be taken.  The window could be as little as 48 hours or up to a week.  Some destinations require the window to be relative to the date and time of departure, and some destinations require the window to be relative to arrival.  This is an important distinction if you have a long flight or a significant layover.  
    • Most destinations require an RT-PCR test, but some will accept an Antigen test
    • Some destinations require that the RT-PCR test be run at a high complexity lab or even at a lab specifically authorized by the destination. 
    • Some destinations will allow a Rapid RT-PCR test, which may be run at a local clinic. 
    • You must be careful to consider the requirements of countries that you will be passing through as well.  If you have a layover in a country that is not your destination country, you will likely have to adhere to that countries’ rules as well.  

Above all, understand that regulations are subject to change at any time. So, it is important that you check with your airline, travel agent, or with the embassy or embassy website for your destination country to ensure that you are fully aware of the regulations required for travel.  

Convenient Travel COVID Testing in Birmingham

At ARCpoint Labs of Birmingham, we offer COVID-19 PCR, Rapid PCR, and Antigen tests.  Our rapid RT-PCR and Antigen tests are completed and delivered on the day that you provide your sample, and our high complexity lab partners usually deliver RT-PCR results in 48 hours or less. We will work with you to schedule your test appropriately and deliver results on time so that you can focus on your trip instead of worrying about COVID testing requirements. 

Planning a business trip or vacation can be stressful, but navigating the pre-travel COVID testing process doesn’t have to be. Schedule your COVID test for travel in Birmingham at ARCpoint Labs of Birmingham and enjoy the convenience of fast, accurate testing today.

Featured Image: Thanakorn.P/Shutterstock

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