U.S. Negative COVID-19 Testing Requirement (Starting Jan. 26, 2021) – FAQs

NEGATIVE COVID-19 TESTING REQUIREMENT FAQs

Starting January 26, 2021, all travelers (age 2 and older) including U.S. citizens and residents, will be required to present a negative viral COVID-19 test taken within 3 days prior to departure on their U.S.-bound flight itinerary.  See details from the CDC here:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

Q: Where can I get tested?

A: See our U.S. Embassy pages on how and where to get tested in the country from which you are traveling. https://es.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

Q: How many days must the negative COVID-19 viral test be taken prior to attempting to enter the United States? Is it 3 calendar days from departure or arrival in the United States?

A: If you are arriving on a direct flight to the United States, your test must be done within the 3 calendar days before your flight to the United States departs. If you are arriving to the United States via one or more connecting flights, your test must be done in the 3 days before the first flight in your itinerary, but only if the connecting flights were booked as a single passenger booking with a final destination in the United States and any layovers no longer than 24 hours. If your connecting flight to the US was booked separately or a layover in your itinerary lasts longer than 24 hours or your travel is disrupted and you leave the airport, you will need to get tested within the 3 days before your flight that arrives in the US.

Q: Is there a specific type of COVID-19 test that must be taken?

A: You will need a viral test (NAAT or antigen test) to determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19.

Q: Do test results need to be in English? Will the airline require a hard copy of the test results?

A: Please check with your airline to determine in what language results can be submitted. #CDC requires air passengers to have a paper or electronic copy of their test result for review by the airline before you board and for potential review by public health officials after you arrive in the United States.  Passengers will also attest to the authenticity of the test presented.

Q: Will U.S. visa applicants need to present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test in order to be approved for a visa?

A: We have no changes to visa requirements to announce at this time. However, this order does apply to nonimmigrant and immigrant visa holders.

Q: What happens if my flight is delayed on my way to the United States and the 3 day time frame expires? Will I need to retest?

A: If your flight is delayed before departure, you will need to get re-tested if the delay causes your test to fall outside of the 3-day pre-departure testing period requirement.  A delay while traveling on a continuous itinerary will not invalidate an otherwise valid test unless it results in you leaving the airport terminal or a layover lasting longer than 24 hours.

Q: Does the order apply to travelers who are only transiting the United States?

A: Yes. Any passenger on a flight entering the US, even for a connection, will require testing before departure.

Q: What if I am in a country where COVID-19 testing is not available? Can I get a test at the U.S. Embassy? Can I test upon arrival in the United States?

A: The United States government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations or testing services to private U.S. citizens abroad. For more information regarding inbound travel testing requirements, we refer you to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see their webpage on the requirement here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

For more information on where to obtain a test overseas, travelers should review the relevant Embassy website. You may need to consider a routing change to a different country or city in order to meet the testing requirement.

Q: I cannot afford COVID-19 testing. Can the U.S. Embassy/Consulate help me pay for testing?

A: U.S. citizens are required to pay for their own tests. In general, if a U.S. citizen abroad faces destitution, the Department can offer certain limited types of assistance if eligibility requirements are met; you may find more information about what we can do on our website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/emergencies/emergency-financial-assistance.html

Q: I cannot afford COVID-19 testing, nor can I afford to continue to stay overseas. Who will help keep me from being homeless in a foreign country?

A: In general, if a U.S. citizen abroad faces destitution, the Department can offer certain limited types of assistance if eligibility requirements are met; you may find more information about what we can do on our website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/emergencies/emergency-financial-assistance.html

Q: Since the U.S. government is requiring this test of its own citizens, shouldnt the United States be required to provide this test to US citizens overseas?

A: The Department of State does not provide direct medical care to private U.S. citizens abroad. We are committed to providing all possible consular assistance to U.S. citizens in need overseas, including by providing information on local medical resources when appropriate.

Q: Are there any exemptions or special circumstances in which a traveler does not have to provide a negative COVID-19 test?

A: Please visit the CDC’s website for a list of limited exemptions: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

Q: I recently had a negative COVID-19 test and have been in quarantine ever since. Is this enough to allow me to travel to the U.S.?

A: If the negative viral test result is outside of the 3 day window, you will need to test again.

Q: I have already taken the COVID-19 vaccine. Do I still need to present a negative test, or can my vaccination record be used instead?

A: All air passengers traveling to the US, regardless of vaccination status, are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery.

Q: I am traveling with an infant. Does the baby also need a negative COVID test?

A: All air passengers age 2 and older need to provide negative test results. Children under the age of 2 do not need to provide negative test results.