Official: United States To Require Coronavirus Testing For International Travel

Filed Under: Travel

It’s official — for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the US will introduce a consistent testing protocol for travelers. While we first learned about this yesterday, the exact details of the testing requirement have now been published, so I wanted to update this post to reflect that.

US to require COVID-19 testing for travel

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has announced that as of January 26, 2021, international air travelers entering the United States will be required to get tested prior to travel:

  • This will apply to all international travelers two years or older arriving into the US by air, including citizens and foreigners; foreign travel includes travel from anywhere that isn’t a state, territory, or possession of the United States
  • Viral testing will be required, and either a nucleic acid amplification test or rapid antigen test is acceptable
  • The testing must be done within three calendar days of the journey to the United States departing (if you are connecting, the test needs to be performed within three calendar days of that first flight, as long as you have no layover of more than 24 hours)
  • As an alternative, passengers can show written or electronic documentation of recovery from COVID-19 after previous SARS-CoV-2 infection in the form of a positive viral test result and a letter from a licensed health care provider or public health official stating the passenger has been cleared to travel
  • Airlines must confirm the negative test results for passengers at the time of check-in
  • Exceptions to this rule apply for airline crews; furthermore, if the CDC determines that a foreign country lacks sufficient testing capabilities, further exceptions can be made, but no such list has been published yet

As the CDC explains in a statement:

“Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19. This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans.

Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants. With the US already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public.”

Both Canada and England have recently introduced similar restrictions, though in the case of both countries, the pre-travel testing is in addition to a mandatory self-quarantine requirement for arrivals from most destinations.

In the case of the US, this will be the most drastic and consistent measure yet. Recently the US introduced a testing requirement for select travelers from the UK (due to the new strain of coronavirus), but that’s all we’ve seen so far.

The US will require pre-travel testing

My take on the US adding COVID-19 testing requirement

Many would argue that the US is about a year late here in adding a testing requirement. On the one hand, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, with widespread vaccination imminent. On the other hand, it’s a dark winter, and we still have a very real problem. What do I make of this policy change?

On the surface the US requiring testing for arriving international travelers doesn’t seem very logical to me, in the sense that the US has among the highest cases in the world right now. Therefore someone coming from another country will likely pose less risk than the average person already in the country.

However, there are two major reasons that the US requiring pre-travel testing for international travelers potentially makes sense:

  • There’s big concern about new strains of coronavirus; while most of them are probably already in the US, there’s value to reducing the number of imported cases, since it will delay the spread in the US
  • Arguably the biggest benefit of new restrictions would simply be to discourage people from traveling internationally; people are much less likely to go to Mexico or another nearby country for a long weekend if there’s a testing requirement

This will present a major logistical challenge for many travelers. For example, many Americans have been traveling to Mexico, so will these vacation hotspots have the infrastructure in place to provide testing to all these American visitors? The good news is that a rapid antigen test will qualify for this requirement — that makes the logistics easier, but one has to wonder if countries can get the supplies they need.

The other major concern was that in many parts of the world getting an appointment and getting tested within 72 hours simply isn’t practical. I’ll be curious to see what kind of exceptions the CDC adds in this regard.

A testing requirement will discourage international travel

Could this be the end of US travel bans?

The US currently has travel bans in place for most of Europe. These were introduced in the spring of 2020, and it’s not terribly logical that they were maintained. For example, does it make sense that over the summer the US banned visitors from Germany, when case numbers over there were a small fraction of here?

With the US introducing pre-travel testing, I’d expect this might also spell the end of US travel bans in the not-too-distance future. Now, in fairness, that likely won’t be reciprocal, meaning Americans may still not be able to travel to much of Europe. The difference is that Europe’s travel bans aren’t specifically against the US, but rather are based on infection rates in countries.

Could the US drop its travel bans against Europe?

Bottom line

The US will introduce a pre-travel coronavirus testing requirement for those entering the US as of January 26, 2021.

While coronavirus is out of control in the US, I suppose this is intended to limit the spread of the new strains in the US, and perhaps more importantly, discourage international travel.

What do you make of the US introducing a coronavirus testing requirement?

  1. My brother, an American citizen, lives in Ireland for work. He says it’s exceedingly difficult to find testing in Ireland. This will make it tough for him to return home.

  2. I think that this is problematic if they do not have a way for people to get the testing that is needed prior to their flights.

    During my recent international trip, the time at which I felt most vulnerable to the virus was the US CBP line. It surprised me how long that the line was and went way past the end of the ropes. Even a test that is 72 hours before a flight would not prevent potential spread in these lines.

  3. Wait so if I get tested and go to Panama, I would then need to get re-tested in Panama in order to get back to America? Is that the gist?

    That would make most short international trips impossible, right?

  4. @James K. Yeah really curious if they make it truly WW or make an exception to North America. Short trips will be toast for sure unless they are willing to accept some sort of self instant tests that are now becoming more available.

  5. @James correct on both points and I think that’s kind of the point. It’s not only deterring people from traveling to the US, but also American’s traveling abroad.

    With that said, I agree it’s too little too late. The entire country is fighting this right now and I forget that stat, something like only 30% of Americans have a passport, so I don’t think this makes much of a difference. As long as we continue to make everything a political issue, we will not conquer this until the vaccine has its way.

  6. The same requirement should apply to all domestic flights. Every one, no exceptions.

    This country is a year late in taking this pandemic seriously. That’s shameful, but being late to act is no excuse to not start taking it seriously now.

  7. I would argue that we’re not “about a year late here.” Rather, we’re right on time in implementing the testing requirement. It takes a lot of work to build up the testing infrastructure, and international leisure travel is simply not a priority in the grand scheme of things. As vaccine usage increases the need for testing will presumably decline, thus freeing up resources for leisure travelers.

  8. If it’s 72 hours, I can get tested in the US Friday afternoon, board a plane Friday evening, and return Sunday evening using my pre-departure Friday afternoon test. So weekend trips are still a-ok. It’s just an added expense since travel tests with a guaranteed turn around time run about $170 a pop.

  9. So currently living in a place where labs won’t test for travel purposes due to shortages (South Africa).

    Visa is expiring and can’t extend (visa office closed).

    This would mean we (family of 5) can’t legally stay, but would be denied boarding back to the United States (originally US citizens)

  10. Would this apply to traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, such as St. Thomas/St. John or would that be considered domestic travel?

  11. This could be very challenging to execute depending on where in the world you are traveling. There should be an option to test upon return and quarantine until those results are received. I believe the rule in the UK exempts those from countries whose infrastructure doesn’t support testing (this group is required to quarantine and test upon arrival). Hopefully the US comes up with something similarly pragmatic for those who have to during this time. I don’t care for this notion that the U.S. could preclude one of its own citizens from returning.

  12. So if you need to be tested 72 hours before returning to the US, can I go to Cabo for 2 nights and just get tested the day I leave the US?

  13. Could this new requirement lift the current travel bans the US has in place for the EU, U.K. and others? I think the endless lobbying by the flag carriers may have worked and this is quite a good solution.

  14. with more people getting vaccinated, can certificate of vaccination be presented instead of testing? have the new rules addressed that?

  15. Couldn’t this also be a measure to make people feel safer flying? I’d certainly be more likely to get on a plane if everyone had been tested in the past 72 hours (it’s not perfect, but better than nothing)

  16. How the hell is this supposed to be implemented? You can’t even get a test flying in from abroad.
    I expect the ENTIRE airline industry to collapse if this really passes.

  17. I just returned from Rome on Delta to Atlanta. Took the rapid test which was allowed on this flight vs PCR. The cost was zero and results in 30 minutes – negative. The Rome airport was very efficient in doing the tests. We were previously scheduled Amsterdam to JFK and the Dutch require PCR test and not rapid. It is possible leaving at 6:30 from Milan to Amsterdam not to have the results and the cost is at least 80 euro and even more.
    This is the big issue if you ask me about what test is needed – if rapid, then no problem, but if PCR that is the real issue. It was nice though that if you are on the flight you needed to test negative. Would be nice not to wear a mask for a 11-hour flight though based on “everyone” being negative.

  18. Why is it a desirable thing to prevent people from traveling to Mexico? Are you aware that the cash from tourists is essential to the survival of many communities in these tourist hotspots in Mexico?

  19. @T.

    A couple issues (from someone who was recently vaccinated). Accurate documentation is difficult–I received a small paper similar to a business card that has the vaccine lot # on it. This would be easy to forge. Better documentation would be needed.

    Asymptomatic infection is also a huge issue. The Moderna vaccine was 94% effective at preventing Covid related illness (Covid+ test plus symptoms). As we have seen throughout the pandemic, asymptomatic people can spread the disease. While the virus numbers in the community are still really elevated like they are now, vaccinated people still need to be tested.

  20. I’m long-term visiting Canada and thankfully there are private clinics here that can help with travel testing. I was fully expecting this requirement before heading back to the US.

    These comments about quick weekends abroad are a bit much. I’d put the odds at roughly zero that rapid antigen tests would be accepted, much less those taken pre-US-departure. And if they were, expect even more stringent standards once Biden takes office.

  21. I have no issues with taking a test, but that absolutely cripples international travel. The logistics of getting tested abroad and getting results back, plus the risk of getting stranded abroad due to an asymptomatic positive result are too much for the vast majority of the population. If this could be done before leaving the US, then was valid for a longer period of time for the return flight, it could be feasible.

  22. I will cancel absolutely every foreign trip this year if there is no other, saner solution. No way you can expect thousands if not millions of travelers to constantly test all the time. Before departure, after arrival, before return, after return. Just insane.

    Anyhow, I do expect lawsuits to fly. See what happens.

  23. Those asking about vaccines in place of testing: remember that there’s still no conclusive evidence that the vaccines prevent you being a carrier and spreader of the virus; just stop you being impacted by symptoms. Until the latest trials show that, testing and masking requirements will remain. The Cayman Islands will reopen in the spring with required vaccination in advance of the trip and a negative PCR test on arrival.

  24. This is good for Hawaii (and maybe also Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands), and very bad for tourist destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, etc. Getting a COVID-19 test in a foreign country (especially in a relatively less wealthy country) with a totally different health care system, possibly a different language, etc., will surely deter international travel. Domestic warm-weather destinations will benefit.

    Also, I wonder if there will be a waiver of the test requirement if you quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, especially for citizens and permanent residents.

    Changes to the current travel bans on those coming to the US are in order. They seem to reflect politics more than public health. For example, China is still banned, even though there are hardly any COVID-19 cases there anymore.

  25. @ Anon,

    I cannot imagine foreigners wanting to visit the US and then frantically trying to find a testing center 72 hours before return to Europe or China. I expect Europeans to prefer to vacation in Europe this year.
    Same story with Americans. It is one thing to get tested in your home town before departure to Europe, but where in Europe do you think you can get a test 72 hours before returning home?? Good luck with that. And just imagine, millions of Americans descending upon Europe all wanting to get tested when returning home. It’s just insane.
    It will be even worse in Mexico or the Caribbean. Their infrastructure simply cannot handle the millions of tests required.

    The ONLY way travel can truly rebound is if testing is no longer necessary and quarantines are no longer required.

  26. Hopefully there’s a legal challenge for US Citizens. Not sure it’s possible to deny repatriation. Although if done by the airlines maybe that is a work-around.

    That being said, the coyote business on the southern border will be booming!! Citizens who can’t get a test can just cross the southern border in the desert. Then we can have a full 180 as Dems begin to demand a wall to keep out returning citizens.

  27. @Ed

    Here in Brussels you can get tested at the airport without an appointment before departure. 67€ for a test with results within 24h or 135€ for one with results within a few hours. Pretty well organised.

  28. It is not 1 year too late. For all the experts in Covid here, where would you be able to find tests when the pandemic started? There were no tests available not in the US, not in any place so requiring tests at that time would be impossible. Now, even testing people (although better than nothing) it will still not eliminate the chances people will be contaminated. Let’s say they determine you need to get tested 72 hours before a flight? What happens between the time you get tested and the flight is not counted on the test. Thus, someone could get tested, then go party like there is no tomorrow with a bunch of people with no masks and still get a negative test to fly. Lipstick on a pig at best.

  29. I think it’s illegal not to let your own citizens come back. Imagine. If testing in country a is not available and someone overstays visa and get jailed, it’s totally problematic. They cannot reject is citizens coming back. I see a lawsuit as this is even unconstitutional

  30. @Hank,
    While I sympathize, I’m curious how long you were aware of the visa issue. And you still have at least a week to get back to the US without any testing.

    Also, SA is a country where money talks. I’m sure for less than $200, you can find a test at a medical center that caters to foreigners. And $200 for a test isn’t an absurd price.

    Finally, some airports in Europe have testing while in transit, so you have options if you care to research them.

  31. BV,

    you don’t understand.
    Even IF you can get tested, there is a risk you test positive. Then you get stranded. And it is one thing for Brussels to provide testing now when it is relatively quiet. But can they perform millions of tests per day in case travel is back at 2019 levels? Think not.

  32. @Ben
    I think you’re being a too dramatic claiming Covid is out of control in the US. Have you looked at the numbers in Europe, at least double, sometimes triple of infections we have.

    Regarding covid tests, anyone can download a test online, change the name and date and you have a valid test to travel. This has already been an issue in other parts of the world.

  33. I’m guessing this can only happen after Biden is inaugurated as President, given that these types of requirements are driven at the Federal level and the current administration has never had any appetite for Corona-related restrictions.

    I’m a bit torn on this. It’s indeed a year too late and if the US had done it all along, I’d be supportive. Problem now is that Corona is out of control in the US and this won’t really do anything to impact community transmission. As someone who believes the scientific and medical experts, I strongly support mask and other requirements that are proven to reduce transmission. However this type of a requirement likely will have little impact on the situation in the US as travel is currently responsible for only a tiny % of cases. It’s hard for to reconcile how so many of the measures are based on science and facts, but this one seems to be based more on fear and emotion without any stats to back up the need for it.

    But with that said, if it can slow the introduction of new variants into the US, that’s definitely a good thing… and I do think the US should be consistent with other countries in terms of entry requirements. I do think the primary driver of this is to add another deterrent to travel, so hopefully it will be relaxed once cases come down and the US gets things under control.

  34. The comments are hilarious. There is no constitutional affirmative right to repatriate. There is no constitutional affirmative right to travel to Cancun. There is no constitutional affirmative right to travel, period. Hold your lawsuits and save your money.

  35. I am amazed at the way people are looking to “avoid” testing simply to travel and spread.. ie a weekend in Mexico

    You can catch the damn thing a MINUTE after you test …


    and USofA is MISHANLDING and spreading this virus more than any other country..

    about 9 months ago I recall writing WAKE UP

  36. and the Vaccine will not STOP you getting or spreading the virus !!!! you just might not get seriously ill!

  37. A couple comments based on what people have posted here:

    Yes, courts have agreed that U.S. citizens DO have an affirmative right of entry to the U.S. so it would spawn lawsuits if they denied entry on the basis of no test:

    Also, travel tests are almost always PCR tests, not rapid antigen tests. They have a guaranteed turnaround time because they are performed by private labs, so they don’t take in more than they can process. For Hawaii I got my results back in ~18 hours, so it’s completely feasible to take one of these tests before departure and have the results ready for re-entry a couple days later. That would fulfill the letter of the law, if not the spirit. For longer trips, it might be possible to add a stopover in a country with testing. I don’t foresee international travel returning to 2019 levels any time soon.

  38. After this confirmation I’m gonna look at shorting airline stocks.
    A majority of Americans will definitely NOT take the risk. And I’m not talking about the elitist travelers who read this forum.

  39. would be great if we can use the rapid at home test. While easily faked, perhaps done in front of airline personnel. Doubt they have the time or ability to implement

  40. I just canceled a trip to Mexico in February because of this. Finding a place to get tested and then ensuring the results are back within 72 hours does not sound like a sure thing. If you do not have the negative test results and are unable to board the return flight, the alternatives will likely not be cheap.

  41. What about people that already had covid-19? Will they still need testing? More and more people have had it with extremely light impact. Don’t see that addressed…

  42. @jordan23
    It is not.
    I was talking about how some people (Lucky might belong in that group too) think the irresponsible evil Americans are spreading Corona to third world countries.

  43. @Ed

    To be fair, you’d have to be crazy to be a European who wants to vacation in the US this year so I doubt that would be a big issue. Also, Americans are still banned from entry to the EU due to the EU’s comprehensive COVID entry ban so that particular situation is probably not likely to occur.

    Agreed overall that this will make travel to many other countries much more difficult. Imagine trying to find 72 hour turnaround COVID testing in a foreign country, especially if you don’t speak the native language. Not good.


    Biden still hasn’t been inaugurated so he has no influence over the CDC yet, who announced this under the current administration. I expect Biden to uphold it but if the CDC got the ok to announce it I’m thinking the current administration didn’t provide much pushback either. Maybe because they don’t care anymore.

  44. I’m very curious to see what the Biden administration does. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the current selective entry bans (EU, China, Brazil, Iran, UK) expanded to all countries. This is what much of the rest of the world already does.

  45. The order states: “ Air passengers are required to get a viral test (a test for current infection) within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19. Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board. If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.”

    I guess we need more clarification on the “recovered from COVID-19” documentation as well. How do you prove that, antibody test? And can you use an antibody tested taken in the United States or does that also have to be taken 72 hours before departure

  46. And again no consideration for people who already have the vaccine. As all my family and friends are in healthcare we have all long received our vaccine and now we still have to test 50 times for each trip? Ridiculous

  47. China implemented this policy long ago and it has been extremely effective. It’s a minor inconvenience and yes, a bit late in the game but it’s a start.
    Now there needs to be a mandatory, well enforced quarantine period for anyone traveling anywhere.

    Airlines will need to adjust their change policies and adapt accordingly. Small price to pay in a country overrun by the virus.

  48. @ Bexho2000 — Yes. It’s the same as with vaccines; yes it confers some immunity (though we don’t know how long it lasts), and we don’t have great data yet on if you can still spread the virus once somewhat immune.

    So regardless of if you’ve had COVID, received the vaccine, or haven’t had it at all, the requirement is to not be actively shedding virus cells out of your respiratory tract when you’re traveling.

  49. @ Greg — If you work in healthcare, surely you understand the math and science driving this recommendation.

  50. @Tiffany & @Bexho2000

    The CDC announcement says “Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board.”

    I am curious what “documentation of recovery” will be (for example, a negative PCR test following prior positive ones?). But this does raise questions–if a person was sick in April 2020, is documenting that they recovered now sufficient, but a vaccine is not? As you (Tiffany) pointed out, we don’t know how long immunity lasts.

  51. “You can catch the damn thing a MINUTE after you test …”

    … which makes testing anytime, anywhere, essentially pointless.

    To put in place a policy that requires testing without also putting in place the infrastructure to support said testing is simply ridiculous. It’s not unlike putting in place the policy that nearly everyone should stay home without also providing them with money to replace their salaries.

    What an absolute circus this country is.

  52. This sounds like the USA wants to follow the Australian model of not permitting its citizens to even leave their country except under very limited circumstances and uses testing as an excuse.

  53. There is no “math and science” driving this – just like with the Trumpian travel bans, this is all about pandering to paranoia and score political points that something “affirmative” is being done, and will do nothing to alter the trajectory of the pandemic Stateside, where it is already widespread.

    I have no travel currently booked myself, but for those who do, this is just gosh dang awful and cruel – it turns travel plans from certainty (which most of us need to have) to a roll of the dice. And why now? Focus instead on the production and logistics of getting out the vaccines and end the pandemic.

    And if the immediate issues aren’t enough – once implemented, expect these nonsense regulations and restrictions on travel to linger for much longer than necessary.

  54. @Marco

    So right you are about restrictions lingering – look no further than the TSA for a great example

  55. This would make me a ton more comfortable flying to the US. I appreciate that people can catch it straight after the test… but they wouldn’t be contagious on the flight, and that’s all that matters to me as an individual.

    Hopefully this would also mean the end of the quarantine period, but I’m not holding my breath on that (would be happy to take a test on landing too!).

  56. This can not possibly be legal, it means denying entry to your own citizens. I know of no country in the world with such rules, this can’t be right.

  57. @ Marco — That was in reference to the math and science not making a policy distinction between the (small number) of people who have been vaccinated and the general population.

  58. What kind of testing are we talking about here? Are those at-home rapid antigen tests that sells for $25 qualify as accepted test result? Or do we need a lab processed PCR test? The CDC media release doesn’t mentioned this at all. If the former is accepted, then I don’t see this as much of a hindrance to international travel at all. However, if the latter is true then this surely is catastrophic for international travel especially for Mexico.

  59. What are pilots and flight attendants supposed to do? What about people that work on ships doing international trade? This is simply unworkable. I trust the government exactly 0% on being able to pull this off in any scientifically sound way that makes sense. The airline lobby is so powerful there is no way they’ll let this actually go into effect.

  60. Nothing against Europe and shouldn’t be directed at them but if this new policy is to discourage travel to (or from and back to) the US, why on earth would they allow an area with 400,000,000 people potentially open back up? Everyone says TRUMP didn’t do enough, but when he cut off flights in the beginning he caught hell (mostly from OMAAT readers)! I’m no trump fan, but you can’t have it both ways! Either cut off travel (probably domestically too for a few weeks), or stop this nonsense!

  61. @TJ plenty of countries locked out their own citizens and legal residents during the pandemic… and they aren’t denying entry. If you read the fine print, the airline is responsible for checking. If you end up on american soil as an american you’re getting in. No if ands or buts about it.

  62. @ RC — Well, I can’t speak for all readers, but the objection Ben and I had to Trump’s travel policies Jan-March was that they were either useless, or more harmful than doing nothing.

    A full 9/11-style grounding of flights would probably have been effective-if-draconian, but neither barring Chinese nationals (with broad exceptions) while not actually stopping flights from China, nor banning Europeans with 3-days notice and triggering a crush of travel (but again, not actually stopping the flights) really does anything to stop an epidemic. Viruses can’t tell passports apart.

    So I tend to agree with you, and would probably still support a (short) nationwide grounding of passenger flights while a proper test/quarantine/vaccine infrastructure is put together.

  63. My wife and I are flying to French Polynesia on the 28th of January for 2 weeks. Getting me Covetous within 72 hours of the international flight outbound isn’t a problem, but are we going to be able to get a test in Bora Bora? And we both already had covid-19 December, very mild cases, less than a real flu by far. But we can’t even get an inoculation for 90 days from when we had it according to the CDC. What’s going to happen when we show up at the Airport in Tahiti headed home? Something tells me they don’t have the $250 rapid test.

  64. @Alan – Fair enough. I guess 72 hours is too long then.

    A shame, because in terms of accuracy the rapid tests are garbage, so it’s not like we could all get tested on the day (at least reliably).

  65. At least talking about “recoginzed” countries in Europe like Germany, Belgium, Neatherlands, Spain, Italy and alike there is no problem to get a test ahead with a result within 24 hours of taking the test.

    Apart of this, I am not sure, but I would not be surprised if “less recognized”(in the eyes of typical Americans) countries would be up to the that or even quicker.

    I live in Germany and from a lot of friends which needed to take a lot of tests traveling intra Europe mostly for work nobody ever had a problem with a test within 24 hours. In average it takes usually around 12 hours for the result for an PCR Test. Sometimes quicker, sometimes more… The only exeption I personally know of at least a 100 tests was one test which took 25 hours till the result arrived. The test was taken just a bit over 25 hours before at Düsseldorf Airport, where there was a very high demand for tests due to flights just before Christmas. That one arrived one hour later than 24 hours, but with good luck just 20 Mins before the flight, so the friend could make the flight. Regulary the waiting time for the test around here is no more than 15 Mins (also with the only known exeption just short before christmas which was a desaster and took 3 hours…)

  66. @Thomas. We have been to French Polynesia in November and it worked flawlessly. But yeah, with the new rules, you can’t go because you can’t come back home. There is no testing at Papeete airport to my knowledge.
    I remember the uproar when Trump denied entry to folks from certain middle eastern countries with visa, it was struck down several times by judges across the US. And now what, we deny entry to US citizens and not a peep?

  67. @Hank
    As an American living in South Africa, I was able to get a COVID PCR test for travel purposes with a <24 hour turnaround last month. It required me getting a prescription from my doctor for a COVID test. The prescription specifically stated the test was for foreign travel, hence the quicker turnaround than trying to get a test without a prescription. Vermaak/PathCare seemed to be the recommended lab to use.

  68. This is totally unconstitutional nonsense. Sweden just imposed a test requirement from the United Kingdom, but Swedes are exempt, because they have a constitutional right to come home. Americans also have a constitutional right to come home — I hope this absurd Covid theater immediately gets destroyed in court.

    Good to discourage travel to Mexico? Really? Mexico has had millions of people plunged into poverty because of this “gift” from China. The one bright spot has been American and Canadian tourists in Quintana Roo and Mexico City. Now what? Those tourists disappear when they learn they have to figure out how to get a Covid test 72 hours before their Spirit flight in Spanish. And Covid tests aren’t cheap in Mexico either. They’re over $100!

    This is only good for wealthy people like TPG who want to be able to fly to Paris in business class and don’t mind shelling out $200 for a PCR test — or their gold-plated insurance covers it.

    Enough of this nonsense.

  69. Still going to travel, and barring citizens or green card holders completely would be unconstitutional. I’ll head to Mexico next month and we’ll figure it out. All they would do is create a black market photoshop testing cartel. They already exist anyways.

  70. Super lame. Just put the airlines out of their misery. Let’s meet carbon reduction goals instead and feel good about having to visit Florida 12 times a year

  71. If “recovering from COVID” counts as a potential exemption then they should allow a vaccine exemption to this rule. The odds of getting a false positive are probably higher than a true positive with both of these options. There’s no appreciable difference between going to Cancun and going to FL. How many flights a day can they cram into MIA?

  72. @Ian

    Agreed. If anything, Mexico is safer than a U.S. destination, because most activities — including eating and drinking — are outside whereas in Florida or Texas you’re sitting inside in sealed boxes with the a/c blasting. This testing requirement should exempt travelers from Mexico. Otherwise, it’s like a nuclear bomb to Mexico’s tourism industry.

  73. This will kill the livelihoods of so many people of color in places like Mexico, Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, etc who thrive off American tourism. Thankfully, we have a uni-party government now and they support open borders. No way will this go unchallenged by the Squad.

  74. Will Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands be considered domestic for this purpose or would COVID-19 test be required prior to return to the USA?

  75. If testing is unavailable in a country, the CDC order says the airlines can obtain an exemption for that country for 14 days at a time.

    The real issue is, what happens to Americans who test positive before their return flight? They won’t be allowed to travel back; if they’re merely positive and not severely ill they may not qualify for medevac even if they have insurance to cover it; and they may be in a country where they can’t get access to appropriate medical treatment. CDC needs to come up with an answer for these folks!

  76. Hello

    I believe in europe its possible in most countries to get tested 72h prior departure. In Hungary my home country there are many private health facilities doing PCR tests and send you result within 24hr. It costs ~60USD (there is government control pricing for tests, maximum price could be around 60USD).

    So its not a big deal, its time for governments including US to lift this ridiculous travel ban apply since March with PCR tests requirement… its nonsense even after almost a year, when we have vaccine and option for testing the travel ban still there

  77. Per the order released today, rapid antigen tests are acceptable. That’s pretty shocking and I stand corrected. I could definitely see resorts setting up point-of-care testing and just making it a mandatory “resort fee” – heh.

    The 72-hour clock is more lenient than other countries’: It’s based on flight departure, not arrival. If there are connecting flights before reaching the US, the clock can start prior to the initial flight(s), provided they’re on a single PNR and that no connection exceeds 24 hours. Hypothetically you could have multiple <24 stopovers with a total travel time exceeding 72 hours and still be okay.

    @Trevor: Airline crew are exempt.

    Full order:

  78. Why do some people expect an exception for vaccinated people? There is no proof (yet) they can’t transmit the virus. WHO specifically warned about this and recommended that vaccinated people are subject to the same restrictions as the general public.

    Vaccine prevents the disease, not an infection.

  79. Does anyone think this new PCR test requirement will mean the end of the 14 day ban for EU, UK, China, Iran and Brazil. I dont see how that makes much sense anymore.

  80. @GoAmtrak

    Thanks for posting the full CDC order.

    Allowing rapid antigen test result allows for international flights to mostly operate normally.

  81. My family , along with 15 other immediate family members, had plans to travel to Mexico at the end of February. Highly likely that won’t happen now, 15 airline flights cancelled and thousands in tourist money lost to Mexicans trying to make a living. My son and daughter both had covid, and my wife has already been vaccinated twice. I am in my sixties, yet won’t get the vaccination for awhile. Just saw in my state, Wisconsin, round two vaccinations will be starting soon which includes prisoners. So that 20 year old gang banger will be getting the vaccine before me! Gots love what this country has become. This is why we planned to visit Aruba in April to look for a retirement home.

  82. Given the fact that this is going into effect in 2 weeks, implementation across the globe will be interesting. There are many practical aspects of this that need to be sorted out. Yes, the weekend (or week) trips to vacation resorts are one thing – but there are MANY people (at from my limited conversations during my work-related travels) who are traveling because they are needed to keep the global infrastructure running (in other words, people who you probably are glad are still traveling and doing their jobs). Sure, there are exemption for people in the airline industry – but for many people, a 14 day quarantine is beyond an inconvenience. Not to mention, there is no discussion regarding those who have received vaccines.

    Not to mention, there is very little discussion about what to do if you cant get tested or, for whatever reason, you test positive – and cant but need to get home.

  83. Rapid tests being allowed shows this really is more about theatre than actually trying to ensure people aren’t infected. A recent study in the UK put sensitivity of those tests as low as 3% (!!!).

    They’re a great way for companies to make money offering tests… not so good for telling if people are infected or not.

  84. @Timo
    I live in Mexico and I would love to see the border restricted. This past Christmas thousands of Mexicans residing in the US returned home for the holidays and their presence will undoubtedly result in many new cases as they often visit family in rural areas where there have been few cases and the locals have never taken precautions often because they cannot afford a quality mask. Overall Mexico does very little testing and the hospitals are saturated in many cities. If AOC and the squad cared they would implement departure testing to help prevent further spread in the third world.

  85. I sense that there is some bad science that is driving bad policy. Everyone is touting how they can now get tested at airports, hotels, and such – but it is unclear what measures have been taken to insure the quality of those “labs”. One of the huge issues with ramping up testing in the US – and this extends WAY beyond COVID – and probably a shock to everyone – is there are some pretty substantial quality control processes in place for human lab testing (not to mention when it comes to handling potentially infectious material). Not everyone can or should set up a COVID testing hut in their parking lot.

  86. Some of these responses are so hypocritical it’s laughable. What about these poor people who need tourists to survive? However will they survive? Vacationing because you’re worried about their survival how altruistic!

  87. @Michael F

    Americans are already banned from numerous countries so I’m not sure this will make much of a difference. From a global perspective, companies can find citizens from other countries to keep the global infrastructure running.

    My bigger concern is the total lack of concern by the American people for the dangers they present to other countries that are unable to cope with the pandemic. The US should require departure testing especially for vacation destinations in poorer countries.

  88. Not only is the COVID situation out of control, but the other mess currently happening both make me not want to visit the US in the short to medium term.

  89. Attention ALL. A *VIRAL* test is not clearly defined in the official CDC Press Release. What official government source shows that a rapid test is permitted? Any feedback is greatly appreciated as I am flying to Brazil in two weeks.

    Thank you One Mile Community!

  90. The CDC Order notes several exemptions, such as airline crew, medical flights, law enforcement, and also this exemption:

    “Airlines or other aircraft operators granted specific waivers from the application of this Order based on CDC’s determination that a foreign country lacks available SARS-CoV-2 testing capacity.”

    I expect the airlines will scramble for these waivers for Mexico, the Caribbean, and similar high-value destinations with limited testing abilities. And some airlines are likely to set up testing sites at the airports.

  91. Does anyone know if you are flying a private or charter plane into the US from an international destination if the testing requirement applies or not? Or is it only for commercial air travel?

  92. $200 is a horrible price. We plan to take our family to Mexico with six kids and our elderly parents. So take 200 x 11 people….I’ll let you do th math! For family’s thos is a deal breaker!!!! Plus were scared to death someone would test positive while there because tests are not totally accurate and boom! Were stuck in Mexico for two weeks. What would that cost? Where would the resort put us? Could we even stay on resort? This is a global crisis….not the pandemic…but the cost to the citizens and business owners! These countries will never recover from this! They need this income!

  93. This should be in forced for domestic flights also if they really care. Your chances to get infected in Aruba much smaller than Florida…. This requirement is pain in butt joke….

  94. So this applies to “anywhere that isn’t a state, territory, or possession of the United States“…so for my 4 day trip to Puerto Rico in February I won’t need one? I would love to see my confirmation on that…CDC needs to provide more details. I have COVID literally right now so I will be clear and with antibodies during my trip time frame for sure, so can I provide my positive and negative tests?

  95. I’m pretty sure that the health of the Mexican tourism industry is somewhere between “last” and “not on the list” of the CDC’s concerns here.

  96. @Peter @Timo The other destinations are at a disadvantage but the Bahamas already has a requirement that visitors must take a rapid antigen test on day 5 of their visit. This cost is built into the travel health visa that is mandatory and all major hotels have testing facilities on site. Since the CDC has clarified that a rapid antigen test is acceptable, this means that a test you were already required to take can also be used to come home.

  97. @MichaelWhite

    A link to the actual CDC’ s order which includes the definition of acceptable test was posted earlier by GoAmtrak in the comments above.

  98. I have read the pages CDC order and it is borderline vague. What if a person tests positive in Mexico with no symptoms. Can that person that never develops any symptoms then be deemed “recovered” by a Doctor there and allowed to board their flight?

  99. Somme comments here are – in a bad sense – amazing. Notably the “what about if i test positive that means I can’t take a flight back”. duh, yeah, if you’re positive you’re not supposed to get on a plane and infect 100 people you geniuses.

    This actually makes a lot of sense and is already in place in most if not all developed countries. I flew back to Paris a few weeks ago, rapid test a couple of days before the flight in NYC, rapid test a couple of days before the flight back, and rapid test 3 days after again to test out of NYC quarantine. It certainly adds complexity and cost, but it adds some safety to travel. testing is widely available in developed countries, and you can be sure that touristic destinations (cancun & co) will do their best to add testing capacity as well.

  100. >Dust

    If you can’t even afford mere $2k,
    You shouldn’t travel to another country in the first place.
    Traveling during pandemic, many things would go in a different way.
    If you don’t have enough money to adjust your situation, probably you should not go.
    It is not a global crisis as you called.
    It’s your problem.
    I can’t believe folks like you, during pandemic, plan to go on a trip but can’t even pay for your own testing and complain about it and oppose to a testing.
    No, a resort wouldn’t accommodate you if you get tested positive.
    You will have to pay for it.

    This is why this covid-19 is out of control in the us. People like this only thinking about short term and not long term prospectives or other people.

    You are not the center of the world, mexicans don’t need your peanut.
    Not a global crisis, it is simply your lack of moral and ability to pay for your freaking testing.

  101. @Melanie

    Once an asymptomatic person tests negative then they should be able to travel. Merely appearing to a doctor to have never developed symptoms is not sufficient. Re-testing is required to determine if someone is no longer infectious to others.

  102. To follow up on my own post…

    My husband and I both had Covid in November. Recovered quickly, but needed to be with a person that was high risk. We were both testing Positive 3 weeks later with zero symptoms in over 2 weeks. We then tested negative at about 4 weeks. We can obviously get the CDC waiver, but this does bring up the question of what the CDC deems as “recovered” since we can and do recover while still testing positive…with or without ever having symptoms. Our fellow travelers have decided to cancel the upcoming trip…not worth the risk.

  103. The CDC order Doesn’t say anything about requiring a negative test though. It does state that a person that has tested positive can be cleared for travel by a licensed doctor

  104. We just came from the UK yesterday and they didn’t even check our COVID test results. We flew through AMS to ATL from Manchester, but they didn’t even question where we originated.

  105. @ Mark — I agree with you. Requiring only inbound testing, without doing anything else, and given the situation in the U.S. feels a bit like closing the door after the rest of the barn has burnt down. But I guess here we are.

  106. tiffany and others,
    with all due respect to the great work you do – I am in healthcare and have been at times knee deep in COVID – and I am not sure I understand the math and science behind some of these policies. Maybe, regardless of why someone is in a foreign country with no idea what the quality control is, they can just keep getting tested until they get the negative test they want – shouldn’t be too difficult. Alternatively, sure – if you test positive (regardless of false positive or true – regardless of symptoms) and then you cant return home – sure no one wants to travel when they are sick (let alone the potential risks to others) – but there are substantial implications (as others have mentioned in their comments about testing positive while away). Again, we need to draw the distinction between holiday travel and other travel. Easy for people to say “stay home” – but on my last flight to a small city in the middle of nowhere USA, I was sitting next to a guy who is heavily involved in nuclear power plant operations and was constantly traveling back and forth between the city we where going to (which was near a plant) and the middle east that also needed his services. I have a good friend who is currently trying to organize a humanitarian medical trip (he had to cancel >12 of them last year due to COVID) to a third world country to perform life-saving surgery on children. Unclear how this is going to impact his entire team – going and coming… let alone what happens if someone tests positive (and yes, there are ‘services’, like insurance, that will medically evacuate you….but probably not asymptomatic or minimal symptoms). Part of the larger issue lies in the inconsistencies and vague definitions – this is a little more complicated that getting a negative test in the Hilton Cabo (who may be more than happy to have you extend your stay at rack rates to quarantine…..) during a family vacation. Or to the previous point (again, we are not here to judge the reasons for people to travel) – but if you are traveling with a small group (family? co-workers?) and 1 person tests positive – technically (per math and science) everyone probably should be quarantined – but according this policy, everyone else can fly…. Again, no comments regarding those who get vaccines or have claimed (with or without lab evidence) to have had COVID… let alone those who cant (or won’t) get tested because of the implications for work (I know nurses whose work place refused testing because they didnt want to deal with the implications of positive tests….) – and these are just not USA things….



  107. If the CDC website is correct, vaccinated people still have to get tested and those (like me) who had the virus more than three months ago must also get tested.

    The silence from the airlines on this new order is deafening. They better get convenient testing programs at foreign airports in place if they expect their international business to return.

  108. The death of travel for the foreseeable future it seems …. I can barely get scheduled for a timely test here in the USA let alone a third world destination

    even stranger it seem if you want to travel soonish let’s say until July 2021 getting COVID and having a doctors note would suffice to allow you travel … ?

    Some how I feel the CDC wakes up and demands half baked rules …. just my 10cents … fire way 😉

  109. They say that if you have been vaccinated you will STILL NEED A COVID TEST. This is the end of international travel for the foreseeable future. We have a place in Mexico and now we cannot use it easily. The airlines need to set up instant testing at no cost at the departing airport

  110. Completely a logistical nightmare. My take away is that it’s best to have had covid and a positive test and doctor’s letter. And again, the vast majority of these tests aren’t intended for use with asymptomatic patients!! How can the US deny entry to a citizen because of the results of an unapproved test?

  111. Once vaccinations increase , lots of people will want to travel . Cyprus (EU) where I live have introduced the first EU vaccination passport certificate . It gives details of persons name , passport number , date vaccinated first and second and signed by hospital/doctor etc . It is believed that EU countries will all have identical passports and that WHO is trying to get all countries to have same format . Unfortunately Trump left WHO , so not sure what will happen there unless Biden rejoins Older readers will remeber the Yellow Fever and Typhoid A and B vaccination certificates that we had to use in 70s and 80s for visiting certain countries that had the diseases. I used to go to Africa for business and needed it to get back into Europe

  112. First step of the Dems – Biden Lock Down Policy – many people will be let go from their jobs – this is what you voted for

  113. Question – hypothetical – If I am at the international airport – say Cancun – and I am returning to USA and I take rapid test at the Airport and test positive at Cancun Airport – what happens? Do I get placed in government holding facility or can I return to any Hotel to quarantine?

  114. Thomas – that is an excellent question and one that I am wondering about. As mentioned in a previous post – I checking into a Marriott last night, they took my temp (I was fine, btw). The receptionist told me that their policy is to not allow guests with fevers to check-in (I didnt ask about all the other causes of fevers besides COVID…..). Good luck finding a hotel to take you with that scarlet C on your chest… and I think all positive tests must be reported to government agencies (I could be wrong – but many infections require reporting), so good like trying to hide….

    Cancun might be easy – but imagine being in someplace more remote….

    correct – then what?


  115. @Thomas,

    What happens to you when you test positive depends on the local jurisdiction. So you need to check the locality and the local rules and regulations. What happens in Cancun vs London vs Johannesburg will vary.

  116. If I understood correctly, this would only apply to air travel, right? Would we still be able to cross by land? I’m afraid they’ll include that down the road. I need to go to Mexico in a couple of months.

  117. @experienced traveler

    Actually the yellow fever card is still required in several parts of the world. When I transited the Panama Canal in a freighter in 2016 I had to have one. And in 2018 when I flew from Brazil to Ecuador it was required to be shown during the check in process.
    When I went to Zanzibar in 1996, it was a requirement to board the ferry, but there a large number of touts who would gladly sell you a pre-filled out card with no needles anywhere in site! The card was not even a forgery but the claim that one received the vaccine certainly was. I’m certain this card could have been subsequently used anywhere in the world as it was not a fake. Anyone want to be that the Covid passports will not be “issued” the same way?

  118. I fully support requiring negative tests for non-Americans, but for your own citizens? Doesn’t seem legal or ethical to me—what if you are in a country where you can’t get a test for travel? Are you just supposed to stay there perpetually? What if you can’t afford to? Do you just live under a bridge until Covid ends?

  119. @ Chris — Well, the more ethical action would likely be for Americans to avoid traveling to places with such poor public health infrastructure that tests aren’t readily available to start with (yes, this would include the majority of domestic travel as well.)

    Personally, I generally think this is far too little, far too late, but the logic would follow that if one thinks this is a necessary policy, that it doesn’t make sense to modify it based on citizenship, as viruses can’t read passport details.

  120. Tiffany and others,
    These are all good and important points – and maybe a topic to write about considering the focus of this blog – could be experiences with getting COVID away from home, what people have done, what options are there, how to appropriately/legally manage these travel restrictions and such. I am not sure the primary message of a travel blog is “stay” home – but rather help outline safe and appropriate ways that travel can resume.


  121. @ Michael — I hear you, and Ben has done several posts about the logistics and costs of international travel during Covid (linked at the top of every page on the blog). Though right now there are very few countries allowing travel without negative tests, so the CDC is hardly taking a minority position here (just a late, and I personally feel insufficient one).

    If you look outside the very short-term (and we’re entering our 14th year here, so we do tend to look long-term), the best primary message for a travel blog in this moment really is to minimize movement for the next few weeks. Vaccines are being distributed at the same time as much more contagious mutations are spreading. So the more people can voluntarily postpone discretionary travel (especially to countries without public health infrastructure) while vaccinations happen, the less we’ll have to collectively unwind, and the more quickly and efficiently travel can resume.

    The worst case (for travel, and really everyone) is if continued mass-migration (and associated transmission) allows for a level of spread where a more contagious, more-deadly variant of Covid becomes dominant before our vaccines have a chance to even try being effective. That adds months, if not years, onto the “safe and appropriate” timeline, and is something we should all be trying to avoid.

  122. Someone asked this earlier but, I wanted to see if there is a definitive answer. If you are tested and receive a negative result back say on Friday, depart for the weekend and come back Sunday (all within 72 hours/3 calendar days) does the original test you left with suffice for returning? Thanks!

  123. Just more absurdity added to the Theater of the Absurd we’re living in. Implementing entry restrictions on US citizens will be quickly challenged as unconstitutional. The latest study published in Nature (huge cohort) shows asymptomatic spread practically non existent, btw – in reply to a previous poster here. The really dangerous virus that is spreading is the autocracy that has crept into our lives, making us prisoners in our homes and now in our states and countries while doing absolutely nothing to stop a virus which is about to become endemic anyway. As someone born and raised in a Communist country, I am horrified at what is happening in the US and across the world. Instead of invoking humane, empathetic public health practices, we have allowed this medical fascism that is destroying human lives and decimating economies

  124. George
    You are more right than you know. I know many people in healthcare at all levels and involvement and a common saying is: “we can’t fight a horrible virus and horrible administrators and their decisions at the same time”

  125. You probably know by now that President Trump DID announce the end of the UK and Europe ban, which would have been a great boost for travel and for the airlines, and very appropriate with these new testing requirements. It was therefore stunning beyond belief when President Biden’s spokesperson immediately said they would reinstate the bans. I see this hasn’t happened yet and I am hoping that she was not representing the new President’s wishes or that he has changed his mind. Like many others, we have personal reasons why we want this ban to be lifted. This was a ray of sunshine that I can’t believe a new President would destroy when he’s trying to make a good impression. I understand the need to be safe but this is going beyond being safe.

  126. I just came back from Tanzania. I had PCR test there . It was easy to get . BUT, it’s a bit of a joke , because they will write down the date you pick up the results as the date of testing!

  127. I am trying to get clarification on testing 3 days prior to arrival back to the US. If I test and receive negative results on Thursday, can I use that on Sunday? I read it as yes. Three days prior to Sunday would be Thursday. I can’t get a clear answer from my airline or CDC.

  128. Collin
    I asked the same question. At this stage my best guess is yes. That is within three calendar days. However, I think…

    1) It will be allowed for awhile and then closed as a “loophole”. The new rule will state if you leave the US even for an hour (by air) you will be required to get a test from the country you are returning from.

    2) It will depend on airline personnel at the airport of departure. Most will allow it but some will read into current policy and interpret it as its not allowed
    We truly wont know until people start traveling, returning and sharing their stories.

  129. Collin
    I may have read your question wrong. I was thinking you were asking about testing in the US Thursday, flying out and, returning Sunday using the same test.

    If you were asking about testing in the country you visited on Thursday to use for a flight to the US Sunday that is allowed as its three calendar days.

  130. Joey, my plan is to test in the US on Thursday and use that test to return from Mexico on Sunday. CDC says prior 3 days but 2 airlines say within 3 days. AA doesn’t specifically state anything. I have a 7am flight so testing Friday isn’t an option. It’s vague and can be interpreted different ways.

  131. Has anyone else noted that Biden’s executive order to control covid is almost identical to Trump’s plan? The CDC has already been recommending quarantine after intl travel for months. The Americans need a president that will actually try something new not repeat the same thing over and over and expect different results – that’s the definition of stupidity. Shame Xi is not available – China never even had outbreaks in any of their large cities outside of Wuhan. Clearly he knows what he’s doing.
    Any quarantine is predominantly only going to affect Americans? How many non resident foreigners are even visiting the US right now?

  132. @Alan I agree with you. Actually I thought President Trump was doing a superb job with managing COVID, all things considered. He was able to keep us from lockdown (at least in most states) and thanks to his leadership we now have vaccines that are being rolled out far sooner than anyone dreamed would be possible. We are already wearing masks so a commitment to wearing masks for 100 days is not new. Americans want to hear what the plan is to end wearing masks. President Biden seems to be obsessed with wearing masks than President Trump was with not wearing masks. Children especially are sick of masks. Masks are not going to cure COVID. Kids also want to go back to school. Adults want to go back to work and meet people in real life, not over Zoom. The best thing that happened in the last couple of weeks was President Trump lifting the ban on travel from Europe (as someone with family in Europe) and President Biden’s aide immediately threatened to reinstate the ban despite the new testing requirement.

    Although I didn’t vote for him, I am willing to give President Biden a chance and like you, if he thinks President Trump did such a bad job, he should come out with something better and different.

  133. Guadalajara airport will be providing on-site testing beginning on the 25th and it says you only need to arrive 1 hour earlier. Antigen test will cost 450 pesos.
    Other major airports have plans for the same too.
    I am amazed that hotels and airports in Mexico are implementing solutions this quickly. South of the border, the norm is to do nothing and complain while blaming others for your problems but this time the risk of losing all the tourist revenue must have got them moving 🙂

  134. Regarding the executive order requiring Covid testing for US citizens after Jan 26th:

    First of all, it is complete idiocy and political theatre to restrict the right of US citizens to renter the US due to Covid when the US already has one of the highest infection rates in the world.

    Every country has its own rules, but as far as the US and its citizens, they have a constitutional right to enter the US if they reach the border. There have been some attempts to restrict this right but even known terrorists and Ebola positive patients who are US citizens have been allowed to re enter the US. For a detailed discussion, read this paper:

    To get around this, the powers that be are using the airlines as de facto immigration agents by telling them to deny boarding to anyone with a positive Covid test after Jan 26th. Basically, it is probably unconstitutional to force US citizens to take a Covid test as a requirement to return to the US never mind denying them boarding if they are positive. However, this attack on the US constitution is being supported by the hysteria around Covid. The US government MAY have the right to require Covid positive US citizens to go into quarantine upon RETURN to the US, but that is a different matter to denying entry.

    Having said all this, for those who have to travel to Mexico and don’t have the time and money to fight this at the Supreme Court, if you read the executive order about the Jan 26th rules it focuses on international AIR TRAVEL . It acknowledges that US land borders are a special case and states that by feb 4th the CDC will come up with a “Plan” for the US/Mexican border. Bottom line, you are 99% certain to be able to return to the US via the land border after Jan 26th.

    So my suggested work around for someone who really has to go to Mexico and needs to get back:

    Fly to San Diego.
    Get a trolley to the border, and walk across.
    Go to Tijuana airport and fly domestic to your final destination (e.g., CDMX, Cancun, etc).
    Retrace these steps to get back to the US.

  135. Im confused is the 72 hours counts from the time the exam is collected or done ..or by the time you received the results can someone clarify please

  136. I am a British person in Mexico.. am I right to assume I can enter the United States as long as i have a PCR test and I can prove that I have not been in the UK in the last 14 days?

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