Testing Requirement Continues to Cause Confusion and Questions Among Travelers
Since late January, all air passengers two and older must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result to enter the United States.
Since late January, all air passengers two and older must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result to enter the United States. The rule announced by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and reinforced by an executive order issued by President Joe Biden applies to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents as well as international arrivals.
Although a month has passed, the testing requirement continues to cause confusion and questions among travelers. Tribuna has compiled the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the U.S. Covid-19 test requirement.
Does this requirement apply to U.S. citizens?
This Order applies to all air passengers, two years of age or older, traveling into the United States, including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.
Are noncitizens no longer subject to Presidential Proclamation travel restrictions if they can show a negative test or documentation of recovery?
The CDC order does not replace the Presidential Proclamations. Therefore, a negative test result for COVID-19 or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight does not exempt a foreign national from the travel restrictions outlined in the Presidential proclamations.
The United States has restricted the entry of all foreign nationals who have passed through or have been in China, Iran, most European countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City), the UK, Ireland, Brazil and South Africa in the past 14 days.
- Except for certain travelers, which includes certain family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, including spouses, children (under the age of 21), parents (provided that his/her U.S. citizen or permanent resident child is unmarried and under the age of 21), and siblings (provided that both the sibling and the U.S. citizen or permanent resident are unmarried and under the age of 21);
- There is also an exception for travelers with the following visas: A-1, A-2, C-1, C-1/D, C-2, C-3, CR-1, CR-2, D, E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee's immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, IR-1, IR-4, IH-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa;
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces;
- Travelers with invitation of the U.S. government for a purpose related to the containment/mitigation of the coronavirus (COVID-19);
- Travelers with documents issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection or U.S. Department of State indicating that the traveler is exempt from the restriction;
- B1 crewmembers that are engaged in lightering, Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) activity, wind farm activity, private air/sea crew and another similar crewmember activities;
- Students with an F-1 or M-1 visa and their F-2 and M-2 dependents, if they arrive from or have been in Ireland, the U.K. or Schengen Area in the past 14 days.
Are U.S. territories considered foreign countries for the purposes of this Order?
No, the Order to present a documentation of a negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 does not apply to air passengers flying from a U.S. territory to a U.S. state.
U.S. territories include American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Why does the Order specify 3 days rather than 72 hours? What is considered 3 days?
The 3-day period is the 3 days before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 3-day timeframe instead of 72 hours to provide more flexibility to the traveler. By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test was administered.
For example, if a passenger’s flight is at 1pm on a Friday, the passenger could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Tuesday or after.
What is an attestation?
An attestation is a statement, writing, entry or other representation that confirms that the information provided is true.
Who is checking to make sure that people have a negative test or documentation of recovery before they board a plane to the U.S.?
The airline will confirm a COVID-19 negative test result or documentation of recovery for all passengers before boarding.
What types of SARS-CoV-2 test are acceptable under the Order?
Passengers must be tested with a viral test that could be either an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). Available NAATs for SARS-CoV-2 include reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP), transcription-mediated amplification (TMA), nicking enzyme amplification reaction (NEAR), and helicase-dependent amplification (HDA). The test used must be authorized for use by the relevant national authority for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the country where the test is administered. A viral test conducted for U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) personnel, including DOD contractors, dependents, and other U.S. government employees, and tested by a DOD laboratory located in a foreign country also meets the requirements of the Order.
Can I get a rapid test?
Rapid tests are acceptable as long as they are a viral test acceptable under the Order.
Does an at-home test qualify?
The Order requires a lab report to be presented to the airline or to public health officials upon request. A home specimen collection kit that is tested in a laboratory should meet the requirements, if such methods have been authorized by the country’s national health authorities. A viral test conducted for U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) personnel, including DOD contractors, dependents, and other U.S. government employees, and tested by a DOD laboratory located in a foreign country also meets the requirements of the Order.
What is a verifiable test result?
A verifiable test result must be in the form of written documentation (paper or electronic copy) of a laboratory test result. Testing must be performed using a viral test (NAAT or antigen), and negative results must be presented to the airline prior to boarding. The test result documentation must include information that identifies the person, a specimen collection date and the type of test. A negative test result must show test was done within the 3 days before the flight. A positive test result must show the test was done within the 3 months before the flight.
Does a negative test result or documentation of recovery need to be in English?
Airlines and other aircraft operators must be able to confirm the test result and review other required information and should determine when translation is necessary for these purposes. Passengers whose documents are in a language other than English should check with their airline or aircraft operator before travel.
If a passenger has tested positive for COVID-19, and then tests negative, can that passenger travel?
Individuals with known or suspected COVID-19 should self-isolate and NOT travel until they have met CDC’s criteria for discontinuing isolation.
If a passenger has a negative test, but was a close contact of a known COVID case, can that passenger travel?
Individuals who have had close contact with a person with COVID-19 (i.e., who are considered exposed to COVID-19), should self-quarantine and NOT travel until they have met CDC criteria for discontinuing quarantine.
For more information visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/.