What COVID-19 tests are approved for travel?

If you’re getting ready to travel domestically or internationally via airplane during the COVID-19 pandemic, consider:

  • Travel restrictions mandate that passengers obtain proof of a negative virus test 3 days before a flight
  • Not all tests work as a valid form of proof for travel

In order to keep the spread of the COVID-19 virus as contained as possible, anyone looking to travel (internationally or otherwise) will be expected to obtain a negative viral test in the days leading up to departure. However, several COVID tests are available, and not all of them are accepted as valid proof for traveling. Learning which tests are approved for travel and how long they take can help you avoid serious delays or complications in your travel plans while keeping you and those around you safe and healthy.

Approved COVID-19 Tests for Travel

While there is a wide range of tests to choose from for personal use, only a few of the available tests will be accepted as valid proof of a negative COVID-19 test when traveling. These include:

Learn more about each of these tests to ensure you have enough time to complete them and obtain results before your travel date.

Standard PCR Test

During this test, a nasal/throat swab will be used to collect a sample from the back of the throat. This sample is then sent to a lab and analyzed for signs of the COVID-19 virus. It detects current infection, and typically results are returned to clients in as little as 2-3 business days. This test is reliable and one of the most commonly-used options currently being used.

Rapid PCR Test

Like the standard test, the Rapid PCR Test uses a nose/throat swab to collect a sample from clients. However, the unique difference is that these tests often produce results within a few hours instead of a few days. These tests are best used within 48 hours of exposure to the virus and are excellent for catching the virus early on to prevent future spread. While this test may be acceptable for some travel plans, some countries or destinations may not accept a rapid PCR test as proof. It’s critical to do your own research on local restrictions before heading to your destination for this reason.

Same Day Viral Testing (Antigen)

Once again, a nose/throat swab will be used to collect a sample from clients during this test. This test, too, is best used within 48 hours of exposure and produces same-day results, much like the rapid testing method. However, this test is mostly used to determine if further testing might be needed or if individuals should return to self-isolating instead of their daily routine. Currently, Same Day Viral Testing is not accepted as a valid test for travel or pre-surgery.

Current COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

You might be thinking, “Do I need to get tested for covid-19 when traveling within the U.S.?” Since 2019, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has maintained an ongoing list of international and domestic travel restrictions for U.S. citizens on its website. One of these pages highlights the restrictions on international and domestic air travel, specifically for required testing for all passengers. The CDC travel restrictions page also has information on when masks should be worn during travel, who is excluded from travel altogether under these guidelines, and much more.

As you get ready to travel, keep one thing in mind – not all countries and states adhere to the same set of rules. It’s crucial to take the time to research travel restrictions in the specific area you’re traveling, to prevent you from being denied entry at the last minute or facing other complications throughout your travel plans. Restrictions and guidelines may sometimes be easily accessed through official state or country websites or tourism websites associated with the area.

COVID-19 Testing in Woburn

If you’re getting ready to travel again, ArcPoint Labs of Woburn is here to ensure you have the proper testing and proof you need to do so safely and without complication. Our qualified staff take samples quickly and efficiently and send them to the lab as soon as possible, so you don’t have to wait around worrying about results. For more information about the tests we offer and how they uphold the requirements for air travel under current restrictions, contact us today.