On January 26, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared that all international travelers wishing to board a flight to the US must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken at least three days before boarding.
Until recently, travelers had to get tested at a testing site in the country where they were located and wait for the results. Now travelers have another option — testing themselves. Home tests for COVID-19 can be a good option for those visiting countries where finding a testing facility that can turn around results within one to three days may be more difficult, a concern addressed on the CDC website.
A home test does entail stipulations. The test can be either a nucleic-acid amplification test (NAAT) or an antigen test, as long as it’s for SARS-CoV-2 with “Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).” Tests must be supervised by a telehealth service provider involved in the testing kit, which could require a prescription. The provider will then identify who is using the test, walk the traveler through the procedure, confirm the results, and then issue a report indicating the same information as any other test would have done.
Airlines cannot accept vaccination records in place of a negative test result. Passengers who have had COVID-19 within the last three months are exempt from providing a negative test result and instead must supply documentation of positive test results and a letter from a health provider or official that they’re cleared for travel.