US government issues new warnings about the risks of international travel

Jan 26, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

There was a strong new advisory from the  Biden Administration today Jan. 26, 2021. In addition to the new requirement that all international airline passengers have a negative COVID-19 test, the federal government has new, stern warnings about overseas travel.

In a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of State, the government is now saying, “U.S. citizens should reconsider non-essential travel abroad.”

The new memo also suggests that Americans postpone all non-essential travel.

CBS News was the first to report on the new language.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

The memo outlines three reasons that Americans shouldn’t be traveling internationally right now:

  • You could have difficulty accessing a test while you’re abroad.
  • You could test positive and get stuck abroad for an extended period of time.
  • You could have difficulty accessing or financing medical care.

The government is basically suggesting that if you travel, you may be on your own when it comes to getting home and dealing with the costs and time involved in a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

On testing, the memo reads:

“The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remind all travelers that beginning tomorrow, January 26, all air passengers two years of age or older arriving to the United States must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding. This order applies to both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens.”

The new testing requirement went into effect today, but so far there’s not a ton of information out there on how it’s being implemented and/or enforced.

Related: What it’s like now that the U.S. requires a COVID-19 test?

As TPG has reported there are many coronavirus tests available. Your best bet right now remains the PCR test usually done via nasal swab. There are now sites being set up that can turn PCR tests in as little as three hours. I was able to get a PCR test done at LAX for a recent trip to test out Kauai’s new resort bubbles.

But the U.S. government will also be accepting rapid antigen tests and antibody tests. Do note that home-tests are not being accepted for this new requirement. Airlines are the ones enforcing the new rules. Passengers are supposed to provide written documentation of test results in order to board their flights. The airlines are accepting paper or electronic copies of negative test results.

Related: How rapid COVID-19 testing can help travelers

If you need to find a quick coronavirus test, TPG reporter Victoria Walker wrote about tips on that here. Note that finding testing sites overseas will be harder in some countries than in others. Be sure to check with your hotel and see if they provide testing or if they might be able to get a doctor or practitioner to come to your hotel.

Related: Onsite COVID-19 tests may be the most valuable hotel perk of 2021 — these resorts have them

What happens if you test positive while in another country? TPG reporter Chris Dong wrote about that here.

From the new harsher tone being adopted by the Biden Administration, however, it sounds like you may not be able to count on Uncle Sam to come to the rescue. As Dong points out, you should have a plan and be prepared to spend the money (or points) necessary for a potentially long quarantine.

Featured image by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 100,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $2,000

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.