Flying to the United States? You’ll Need Proof of a COVID Test (Starting January 26)

Buenos días everyone!

Starting January 26, all passengers traveling to the United States will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test (PCR or antigen) dated within 3 days prior to departure, unless they have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past three months (in which case they will need to provide a copy of their positive test dated within three months of departure and a letter from a medical professional saying they are cleared to travel).

This policy applies to all passengers traveling on flights to the US, regardless of citizenship or residency, including passengers connecting onward to a third country. It does not change any existing travel restrictions, including the presidential proclamations that deny entry to most travelers who have been in Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, the United Kingdom, or the European Schengen Area within the past 14 days.

Airlines are responsible for verifying travelers’ documents (printed or digital) and are required to deny boarding to any passenger who does not provide them; they do not need to keep a copy of your test results.

The CDC has a frequently asked questions page that addresses various specific circumstances, including;

  • If you have a connection en route to the US, your test has to be within 3 days of your first flight, as long as your connection is on the same ticket. If you connect on a separate ticket, your test will need to be dated within 3 days of departure for your flight to the US.
  • There is no exception for flight delays: if a flight delay causes your test results to fall out of the three-day (or three-month) window, you will have to get a new test before traveling.
  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination does not exempt passengers from the testing requirement.

As a reminder, a negative COVID-19 test does not mean you don’t have to follow other health precautions, including wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance from others whenever possible, and washing your hands frequently. The CDC recommends that you get tested again 3-5 days after traveling and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel (or longer if required by state guidelines), or self-quarantine for 10 days if you don’t get tested after arrival.

What impact do you think this will have on travel to the US? Do you have travel plans that will be affected by this requirement? Do you think we’re going to see a credit card add a COVID-19 testing benefit? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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