Traveling Outside of the U.S.? CDC Requires a Negative COVID-19 Test to Enter U.S. starting January 26

CDC Negative Test for U.S.

Thinking about traveling to Mexico or the Caribbean? You’ll want to continuing reading….

New Requirements from CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require a negative COVID-19 test for all air passengers entering the United States.

In a nutshell: Beginning January 26, all air passengers traveling to the U.S. will be required to get a COVID test within 3 days of departure.

A written documentation of the laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) must be provided to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19.

Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board. 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.

There are few places that Americans have been traveling to with much of the world still closed for travel due to the pandemic.  The most popular, of course, includes Mexico, which doesn’t require pre-arrival testing as well as the Caribbean, where some islands, like Jamaica, require a travel authorization and a negative COVID-19 PCR or Antigen test.

According to the CDC, the U.S. is in surge status and they say that the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus (as vaccination plans continue).

The CDC also suggests getting tested again 3-5 days after arrival and to stay home for 7 days post-travel – they believe this will help slow the spread of COVID-19 within the U.S. from travel-related infections.

“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.”

According to American Airlines, customers may change their travel plans to ensure compliance with the order.  Most AA flights do not have change fees and American is waiving the fare difference for customers with travel scheduled Jan. 12 through Feb. 9. If this is you, you may rebook in the same cabin of service with no charge for the same origin and destination. New travel must start on or before Jan. 25.

Some answers to some questions that may be on your mind:

Does this requirement apply to US citizens?
This applies to all passengers, 2 years old and older.

When do I need to get a test to travel to the US? And what kind of test do I need?
You’re required to get a COVID test within 3 days of departure.  Please make sure that you receive your results before your flight departs and have documentation of your results to show the airline.

Reminder: All travelers (including those who have recovered from COVID-19) should remember to wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet apart from people who are not in your household, and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing and before eating.

Do I need to get a test before leaving the US?
The CDC recommends that you get tested with a viral test (NAAT or antigen) 1-3 days before you travel internationally. Follow all requirements at your destination.

Does this order apply to all flights? Or just commercial flights?
All flights (including private flights and charter flights).

What if I test positive?
Don’t travel!  Isolate yourself and follow public health recommendations.

What happens if my flight is delayed and it goes over the 3-day limit for testing?
You will need to get re-tested if the delay causes your test to fall outside of the 3-day pre-departure testing period requirement.

What if I had a COVID-19 vaccine? Do I still need a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19?
Yes, you do!  All air passengers are required to provide a negative test result to board.

Does my all-inclusive resort offer testing?
Some resorts, like AMResorts, i.e. Secrets, Dreams, Zoetry, etc., via CleanComplete+ include COVID-19 antigen testing on-property at no cost to guests traveling to the U.S. (beginning 1/26 per CDC requirement). On-site property testing will be administered by Hospiten at most of AMResorts destinations. Details are pending for resorts in Costa Rica, Curacao, St. Martin, Acapulco, Ixtapa, and Huatulco.   Check directly with your resort for guidance.

We’ll update this article with any new details.

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Will a COVID-19 Vaccination Passport Be Required for Travel?

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About Donna Adinolfi - Editor-in-Chief 233 Articles
In addition to being our Editor-in-Chief, Donna Adinolfi is a wellness travel expert, a freelance writer, an award-winning photographer, and the founder/publisher of Her 30+ year career includes serving as the Travel & Spa Editor of Balance Magazine as well as planning wellness travel & retreats. An avid fan of the freedom from carrying cash or credit cards, Donna loves to visit all-inclusive wellness resorts in the U.S, and traveling to some of Mexico's and the Caribbean's many all-inclusive resorts several times each year. She's also a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association.
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