|On January 12, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order that requires all international air passengers, age 2 or older, who are traveling to the United States to present a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of recovery from COVID-19 prior to boarding their U.S.-bound flights, including commercial flights, private flights, and charter flights. The Order applies to all passengers, including U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. This Order will be published in the Federal Register and will be effective starting January 26, 2021 until the end of the national COVID-19 public health emergency, a rescission or modification of the Order by the CDC Director, or December 31, 2021.
This Order supersedes the previous order signed by the CDC on December 25, 2020, requiring a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test result for all airline passengers arriving into the United States from the United Kingdom.
Pursuant to this Order, all air passengers will need to take a viral detection test for current COVID-19 infection (i.e. a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test/NAAT, or a viral antigen test) within 3 calendar days of boarding their flight to the United States and present written proof (paper or electronic) of their negative COVID-19 test results before boarding. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 have the option of presenting a paper or electronic confirmation that they have recovered from the virus along with a Documentation of Recovery from a licensed health care provider or public health official clearing them for travel. This documentation must be presented to airline operators and to any U.S. federal or state official upon request. Negative COVID-19 test results and Documentation of Recovery must include the passenger’s name and date of birth as it appears on his or passport or other travel documents.
Passengers who are traveling to the United States using one or more connecting flights will need to ensure that their test specimen was collected within the 3 calendar days preceding the departure of the initial flight and that they book any connecting flights on a single passenger record, limit all connections to 24 hours, and comply with all required airline safety protocols during connections.
Note that proof of a negative test result or recovery from the virus does not exempt travelers from the geographic and visa category bans that were enacted under several Presidential Proclamations. The geographic bans prohibit the admission of travelers who have been present in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and Ireland, China, Iran, and Brazil within the preceding 14 days. Another Presidential Proclamation (P.P. 10052) bans the entry of those seeking to enter with H-1B, H-2B, certain J-1 categories (intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program); or L-1 visas, and their derivative dependents. Individuals who are exempt from these bans and individuals who have been granted National Interest Exceptions to travel to the U.S. must still provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result in order to travel to the U.S. starting January 26, 2021, consistent with the CDC order.
Additional testing requirements are listed on the CDC Order, which is available at:
Passenger Attestation documents are available at: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/pdf/attachment-a-global-passenger-disclosure-and-attestation-2021-01-12-p.pdf.
Government FAQs are available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html
The CDC additionally recommends that all international air travelers take an additional COVID-19 viral test 3-5 days after arriving in the United States, self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, and self-isolate at home or in a hotel room for 7 days after arriving in the United States.