Everything You Need to Know about the New Rules for International Travel
Updated: Jan 31
You may have heard that, last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new rules for passengers travelling internationally. But not to worry! I’m here to help you understand and prepare for the updated guidelines, which are aimed at keeping us all safe and healthy as the world resumes international travel. Keep reading to learn about the changes and solutions!
First, the policy change: All passengers travelling internationally, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, must test negative for COVID-19 within 24 hours before air travel to the United States. (If you’ve recovered from COVID-19 within 90 days of your departure and are concerned about testing positive, rest assured that you can instead show your previous positive test result along with a letter from your healthcare provider attesting to your recovery.) This tighter timeline of just 24 hours has some international travelers understandably fretting about frantically finding open testing sites in order to be able to return home on time at the end of their vacations.
In order to accommodate this shorter timeline, the CDC has approved certain rapid, self-administered, at-home antigen tests that may be the wisest option for those travelling internationally, especially to countries with difficult, strained, or ambiguous testing capabilities or for travelers with an action-packed itinerary that don’t have the time to get to a testing site. All three tests are priced under $70 per kit and requires a telehealth video call (requiring a strong WiFi connection and 20-30 minutes of your time) and digital documentation that you can share with your airline and US officials.
Priced at $25 to $35 per kit and available via eMed or Optum, BinaxNOW is capable of detecting both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19. The test can be administered on children 4 and older, though users must be at least 15 to administer themselves. When you’re ready to test, simply hop on the company’s app and connect to the video call. The healthcare professional will guide you through collecting the sample and will verify your test result when it appears 15 minutes later. Your test result will automatically appear in the app and can be transferred to your airline’s app before you arrive at the airport. When choosing this option, please keep in mind that BinaxNOW kits must be kept at or below room temperature at all times and there is an expiration date on each box.
Priced at $30 to $50 per test and available only in local pharmacies, Ellume is also capable of detecting both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID. Ellume, however, is approved for users ages 2 and up, so this is your go-to test for toddlers. After purchasing a test at the neighborhood drugstore, international travelers pay an additional $20 for the how-to video and telehealth consultation via Azova’s app. With Ellume, users must schedule their telehealth appointment a week out, and results are emailed.
Priced at $40 per kit and available via Qured, this test delivers results in a slightly longer period of two hours. After purchasing a kit, Qured emails a link to schedule a telehealth consultation. If you’re flying with American Airlines, this test may be a good option, as you can get a discount with the code AATRAVEL15.
Whatever test you choose, rest assured knowing that the new CDC guidelines won’t interfere with your international travel plans and, in fact, will ensure a safer and healthier journey for all. If you’re thinking about your 2022 vacation, let’s get started planning today. Wherever your plans take you, I’m wishing you health and happiness in this new year of travel!