From the sunny beaches of the South Pacific and the Caribbean to the awe-inspiring deserts of the Middle East and Africa, there are plenty of places where Americans can travel now. But just as we were getting used to the idea of buying extra travel insurance and getting tested for COVID-19 before leaving, we now have a new wrinkle to contend with: As of this week, anyone traveling internationally is required to have proof of a negative COVID test for entry into the United States. This new measure, effective January 26, affects everyone over the age of 2, including tourists, legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens.
The new order states that upon boarding, all travelers will need to show their airline proof of a negative viral test result (NAAT or antigen) taken no more than three days prior, or show documentation of recovery (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from a health care provider or public health official stating that they were cleared to travel). This order does not apply to air passengers flying from a U.S. territory or U.S. possession, i.e. American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Many of our favorite destinations are doing their best to help travelers accommodate this new order. For instance, in St. Barths, travelers can get rapid antigen tests for free (or PCR tests for a fee) at the testing center across from St. Jean Beach. The Dominican Republic offers free viral antigen tests to all international visitors arriving via commercial airlines and staying at a hotel. Some villa vacation companies will make house calls, and many luxury hotels are adding COVID tests to their list of amenities. Esperanza and Chileno Bay, both in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, offer guests convenient COVID testing. And guests of Cayo Espanto in Belize can receive a test for $130 and get same-day results from its island physician. Though it should be noted that not all overseas testing is created equally: Some countries can’t reliably deliver a result in 72 hours (travelers to Barbados, take heed!).
The CDC recommends that all returning travelers get another test three to five days after arrival and stay home to self-quarantine for seven days, even if the test is negative. Those who don’t get tested should self-quarantine for 10 days.
The information above was correct as of this writing. When planning your vacation, be sure to get the most up-to-date information from your Andrew Harper travel advisor, the CDC and the U.S. Embassy website.