All Travelers Flying Into the U.S. Will Be Required to Show Proof of a Negative COVID-19 Test Taken Within 1 Day of Departure

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  • Testing requirements are changing for international travelers who plan to fly to the United States.
  • All travelers will soon be required to show a negative test result from a test taken no more than one day before departure.

Beginning Monday, all international travelers will need to follow updated COVID-19 testing rules before entering the United States.

If you plan to travel internationally soon, you'll want to be aware of the new COVID-19 testing requirements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) require all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to present a negative COVID-19 test before flying to the United States after traveling outside of the country. But the timeline for testing is changing, and you'll need to make arrangements to ensure you get your test results in time before you fly home. Here's what you need to know.

Previously, COVID-19 testing requirements were more relaxed for fully vaccinated travelers. Vaccinated travelers could present a negative test taken up to three days before departure before flying to the United States. On the other hand, unvaccinated travelers had to show a negative result from a test taken no more than one day before departure.

New testing requirements begin next week

The current rules are about to change. Starting on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, all travelers will need to present proof of a negative test result from a test taken no more than one day before departure. This requirement applies to Americans and foreign travelers 2 years of age and older regardless of vaccination status.

Have you recently recovered from COVID-19? Instead of presenting a negative test result, travelers can show proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. You'll need to show a positive viral test result taken within the previous 90 days and documentation from a licensed medical professional stating the passenger is cleared for travel.

If you don't follow the above rules, you won't be allowed to board your flight to the U.S. Airlines are carefully verifying that every passenger meets the requirements, and they're only allowing those who follow the rules to board the plane.

What this change means for you

With this new rule in place, testing timelines are much tighter. As you plan your international travels, make sure you plan how and where you will test. You should also inquire about the timeline for results, so you know when to expect them.

If you don't receive your results in time, that could be stressful. You won't be able to board your flight without a negative test result or proof of recovery, and booking a new flight would be an additional expense. There is always some risk when traveling internationally, and unexpectedly getting COVID-19 and having to miss your flight home is a possibility.

You may be wondering what tests meet the requirements. The test must be a SARS-CoV-2 viral test, which can be a rapid test. Some at-home tests or self-tests are acceptable. But you'll need to make sure your test meets the requirements and use one that includes a telehealth service that provides real-time supervision remotely.

Plan for extra costs and frequent changes

When traveling amid a pandemic, you should expect travel to be different. Many tasks, like checking in for your flight, take more time. Delays and cancellations are common, and changes may occur -- even during your trip.

You may need to pay more to travel during a pandemic. This includes more expensive travel costs now that travel demand is higher and possibly additional expenses like COVID-19 testing and quarantine costs. As you plan your trip, be sure to include extra money in your vacation budget for unexpected costs so there are no financial surprises. It's always best to be as prepared as possible.

When booking reservations for your trip, paying with a travel credit card is a smart idea. You can earn rewards on your spending, and some travel cards include additional benefits like trip interruption and trip cancellation coverage.

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