CDC Expands Negative Test Requirement to All Air Entering US
CDC Expands Negative COVID-19 Test Requirement to All Air Passengers Entering the United States – Effective January 26th.
Quick Summary: A new CDC order requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test for all air passengers departing for the U.S. from any international location for travel starting January 26. Beginning on that date, this order will supersede the previous order which was limited to the U.K.
What this means for passengers:
- Travelers age 2 and older must show proof of a negative molecular COVID-19 test (such as PCR or LAMP) or antigen test. Test must be taken no more than three calendar days prior to departure. Where we have contact information, international inbound customers will receive advance communication from United regarding the negative test requirement. Customers will be responsible for the cost of any tests.
- Alternatively, customers with written or electronic documentation dated within 90 days prior to departure of recovery from COVID-19 after previous infection in the form of a positive viral test result and a letter from a licensed health provider do not need to have a negative test result.
- Every customer must also complete a passenger disclosure and attestation form prior to departure. The form can be found on the CDC website and will also be available at the departure airport. Please encourage customers to print and complete prior to arriving at the airport.
- A COVID-19 vaccination DOES NOT exempt customers from the testing requirement.
- Passengers transiting the U.S. on the way to another country must still meet this requirement.
- Customers on separate PNRs will need to have a test taken within three calendar days of their flight to the U.S.
Q: Does the testing requirement apply to U.S. Citizens?
A: Yes, it applies to all airline passengers ages 2 and older bound for the United States, including visitors, citizens and legal permanent residents.
Q: Do passengers on flights from the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have to get tested?
A: No. U.S. territories are excluded from the CDC requirement.
Q: What kind of test do our customers need and when?
A: Travelers must get a viral test – antigen tests and nucleic acid amplification tests such as a PCR test qualify, but antibody tests don’t – no more than three days before their flight departs and bring paper or electronic proof to the airport. Those who have tested positive for the virus within the past three months before travel can bypass the test requirement if they bring proof they have recovered from the virus and are cleared to travel by a licensed health care provider or health official.
Q: How can customers prove they recovered from COVID-19?
A: Customers must bring a positive test result and a letter from your health care provider or a public health official that says you have been cleared for travel, the CDC says.
Q: If a client have had a COVID-19 vaccine, are they exempt?
Q: Who is going to enforce this?
A: Airlines. They are still working out the details but will ask for proof at check-in. On flights from the U.K., for example, United Airlines asks for documentation in the ticket lobby. The CDC says passengers without negative test results or proof they have recovered from COVID-19 will be denied boarding. Those who provide false information are subject to criminal fines and imprisonment, the agency said.
Q: How will customers find a reputable place to get tested in a foreign country?
A: Look for guidance from airlines, hotels, tourism bureaus and health care providers in the coming weeks. Travelers to Hawaii have to provide a negative test to enter the state and bypass a mandatory quarantine, and airlines and tourism officials have provide extensive details on testing options.
Q: What if customers take the test before a flight and test positive?
A: Customer will have an extended international vacation – in quarantine, at their own expense.
Q: How long will this requirement be in place?
A: No timeline was announced, but expect it to be in place as long as the virus is surging.
Q: Customers have tickets for a flight to/back to the United States right after the new testing requirement begins (26 JAN) but want to depart earlier so they don’t have to get tested. What are the options?
A: Some carriers (see below) have issued specific travel waivers on this front. Delta and American said travelers scheduled to fly to the United States through Feb. 9 can change their ticket to dates on or before Jan. 25 without paying a fare difference as long as they purchased their tickets prior to the CDC announcement. United has the same terms but it is extending the option to passengers due to travel through Feb. 15. Ticket change fees are already waived on each of the airlines.