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CDC to Require Negative COVID Test from All Inbound US Passengers by Air

The rules around travel change so quickly and so frequently that it can be overwhelming to keep up. The latest order from the CDC, however, might be the most important one yet, as it affects every passenger age 2 and older entering the U.S. by air. Beginning Jan. 26th, every single passenger flying into the U.S. will be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of having recovered from the disease. This applies to U.S. citizens and foreigners alike, no matter where in the world they’re arriving from.

The tests must be PCR, NAT or antigen tests, taken no more than 72 hours before your flight to the U.S. departs. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous three months, you may instead present proof of that positive test along with documentation from a health provider or public health official that you have been cleared for travel. If you have already been vaccinated, a negative test will still be required.

The CDC also recommends but does not require that passengers arriving in the U.S. take another COVID test three to five days after arrival and self-isolate for a week. Please note that your state might have separate requirements.

The CDC is working to determine whether certain countries lack the testing infrastructure to allow passengers coming in from those places to comply with the order, and waivers might be granted. Airlines are working on putting testing policies in place as well. The proof will need to be presented before you board your flight, and anyone unable to meet the requirements could be denied boarding.

Travelers coming in from U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are not considered to have left the U.S. and are therefore exempt from the requirement. There are, however, still testing requirements for traveling to those territories. The same is true for Hawaii, which is of course a full-fledged state despite being more than 2,000 miles from the mainland.

The order begins on Jan. 26th and will continue indefinitely. I will continue to keep my clients informed of any changes and if you have questions regarding your travel plans please feel free to reach out to me to make sure you have all the information you need to enjoy your next getaway.


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