The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that all inbound international travelers are now required to show a negative COVID-19 test result within one day of boarding their flight to the United States. The new CDC testing order went into effect on December 6, 2021.
The one-day testing rule applies to all air passengers two years or older traveling on a flight from a foreign country to the United States, regardless of vaccination or citizenship status. Unvaccinated and vaccinated U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and foreign nationals alike must show a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline before boarding their U.S.-bound flight. Travelers can opt-out of the testing requirement by submitting proof of recovery from COVID-19 within 90 days of the flight’s departure, including a letter from a health care provider stating they are cleared to travel.
An important point to note is that the one-day requirement does not mean 24 hours. Per the CDC, the one-day timeframe is intended to provide air passengers with more flexibility. For example, if a traveler’s flight to the United States departs at 2 p.m. on a Thursday, a traveler can take the test any time on the Wednesday before. The airline’s acceptance of the test result is not contingent on the time of day the test was taken.
Before the stricter testing rule went into effect, all U.S.-bound travelers were required to test within three days of their departure. The CDC shortened the testing window from three days to one day due to concerns over the Omicron variant.