International travelers catch a break as FDA extends expiration date for at-home COVID-19 test

Jan 15, 2022

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Featured image by Summer Hull/The Points Guy

 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has increased the shelf life for one of the most popular at-home COVID-19 test kits. The agency announced that Abbott’s BinaxNow COVID-19 Ag Card Home Test is now approved for a 15-month expiration window. This follows a request by the company to provide a longer shelf life for its test, after it reported stability studies that showed the tests remained accurate and consistent over the longer time period. Here’s the letter from the FDA to Abbott granting the extended expiration window.

This news should come as quite a relief for travelers overseas looking to get back to the United States. Depending on the original expiration date on the test, this change can add up to six months to the shelf life.

The news was first reported by Kyle Potter at Thrifty Traveler.

Binax expiration date. (Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)
BinaxNow expiration date. (Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

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The BinaxNow Home Test is very popular with international travelers. In fact, the Abbot test, the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test and Qured’s video-supervised rapid antigen test are the only three at-home tests currently approved by the CDC to be used by inbound passengers to the U.S. The CDC guidelines require all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a plane to the U.S.

(TPG reported last summer that the wait times for BinaxNow supervised exams through Zoom were quite long due to high demand, but wait times have improved.)

What was not so convenient about the tests is that many people ordered them and discovered that they expired too quickly to be used. Many tests were being shipped to customers with expiration dates that were only six to nine months out from their initial production date. That doesn’t do much good for travelers with trips planned several months down the road.

The FDA’s extension now provides a 15-month window from the production date of the tests. The expiration date was previously 12 months. You can find the expiration date on the front of your BinaxNow home test.

Abbott’s BinaxNow COVID-19 Ag Card Home Test (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

We’ve written before about inaccurate expiration dates and other issues with these at-home tests, but the bottom line is they are incredibly helpful if you’re planning to travel overseas. They make the process of obtaining the required negative COVID test result much less of a hassle. Now, you also have more time to use the test.

Related: Your guide to at-home COVID-19 tests for international travel 

Featured image by Summer Hull/The Points Guy

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