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CDC says rapid at-home tests are sufficient for international flights to the US

May 10, 2021
3 min read
CDC says rapid at-home tests are sufficient for international flights to the US
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance and widened the kind of tests it will accept for international travelers looking to enter the country. On Friday, the CDC said that it's updated its guidance to accept at-home COVID-19 tests for international travel to the U.S.

As of Friday's update, all travelers coming from international locations into the U.S. will be able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test that was taken at home.

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Since Jan. 26, 2021, all travelers looking to enter the U.S. from abroad have been required to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before scheduled departure. While both a gold-standard PCR test as well as rapid antigen tests had been accepted as valid viral tests for entry, the CDC said that those taken at home were not sufficient.

Now, however, travelers can take a self-administered COVID-19 test at home. They must still meet some specifications, however. Home tests have to be a SARS-CoV-2 viral test (either a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or an antigen test) with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Additionally, approved at-home tests must be completed using "a telehealth service affiliated with the manufacturer of the test that provides real-time supervision remotely through an audio and video connection." The health authority must be able to see the traveler perform the test in order to certify it was taken correctly and the results are accurate.

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Related: 17 things you need to know about getting COVID-19 tested for US-bound international flights

The telehealth service provider must confirm the person's identity, as well as the result. They must then issue a report that meets the CDC's order and the travel provider must be able to review and confirm the test result and match it to the traveler's identity.

Overall, this is a positive change for travelers who might otherwise have trouble sourcing a COVID-19 test in a foreign country where capabilities might not be as widely available. The option to take a test at home will allow travelers to pack a COVID-19 test in their bag and take it prior to traveling back to the U.S. after having performed it in front of a telehealth provider.

"This is an encouraging step in facilitating the international travel process, while continuing to prioritize the safety and well-being of all travelers and employees seeking entry to the U.S.," Airlines for America said of the change.

While the CDC is making the testing requirement for international travel easier on return to the country, the agency still advises against international travel for travelers who aren't fully vaccinated.

"International travel poses additional risks and even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new COVID-19 variants," the CDC says on its website. "CDC recommends delaying international travel until you are fully vaccinated."

Related: Where you can go once you are vaccinated: A country-by-country guide

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023