Returning home from international travel just got a little bit easier. On Friday, the CDC updated its guidance allowing international air passengers to use at-home COVID-19 tests (or self-tests) to satisfy the testing requirement to reenter the U.S. Previously only PCR and rapid antigen tests administered by a medical professional were accepted.
Here’s what you need to know about the requirements for the accepted at-home tests.
What Kind of Tests?
The self-administered tests have to be a SARS-CoV-2 viral test (NAAT nucleic acid amplification test, PCR Polymerase Chain Reaction, or antigen test) with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Currently (as of mid-May) the Abbott BinaxNOW rapid at-home test qualifies and is available through CVS, Walmart and Walgreens.
Tests Must be Supervised
The testing procedure must include remote, real-time supervision by a telehealth service associated with the test manufacturer. The telehealth provider will need to confirm your identity and observe the specimen collection and testing procedures. They must confirm the test result and then they’ll need to issue a report that meets the requirements of CDC’s order. This means you’ll need solid video and audio connection, so make sure you’re taking the test in a place with reliable WiFi.
Airline and Port of Entry Will Review Test Results
When it’s time to fly, your airline must be able to review and confirm your test result and match it with your identity. Keep in mind that you might need to present the documentation of your test results to U.S. officials at the port of entry or local/state health departments (if requested), so make sure you keep that information handy.
While this update is good news for travelers, many at-home COVID testing kits still require you to mail your sample to a lab and wait for your results. However, there is one home test that doesn’t require a lab - it meets the CDC requirements and includes a telehealth service. Tests are fairly cheap (ranging from $20-25) and available at many local retailers, including CVS, Walmart and Walgreens. Each box comes with two tests that are available for use on all travelers aged 15 and older and children as young as two years old (when samples are collected by an adult).
As travel bounces back, this is a step in the right direction for the return of international business travel. Now business travelers can avoid hunting down a COVID testing center while abroad and instead pack one with them before heading out for their business trip. We urge you to still take all necessary precautions (pack a mask and wash your hands!) and be sure to check your destination’s requirements and restrictions before hopping on an international flight as many countries aren’t accepting unvaccinated travelers just yet. As always, if you have any questions or need helping booking a business trip, reach out to a member of our team - we’re always ready to help!