Do You Need a Covid Test to Fly Summer 2021?

people in airport during covid epidemic

Do You Need a Covid Test to Fly Summer 2021?


Table of Contents:

  • Guidelines for International Travelers
  • Actions to take to prepare for travel
  • Precautions to take during travel even if you are vaccinated
  • Where to check state and local guidelines


For International travel, all air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must be tested no more than 3 days before travel or have documentation of recovering from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before boarding a flight to the United States.

If you get a negative test, travel and return within three days of the test, the test taken before departing the U.S. will be accepted.

Travelers who are fully vaccinated or who recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months do not need to get tested before departing the United States for international travel or before domestic travel unless their destination requires it.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that individuals do not travel overseas or to other countries until they are fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated travelers in the US can continue to travel domestically without testing prior to the flight, but as mentioned previously, consultation with a doctor is recommended before traveling to an international destination.

As more people in the United States are vaccinated against COVID-19, new advice on domestic travel will be developed.

With the incidence of COVID-19 Delta Virus in adults and children increasing it is still important to be cautious when traveling domestically.

If you are traveling soon and need a coronavirus test for travel, you might be wondering where you can get one, what type of test you’ll need to take, how long it will take to get an appointment and what it will cost.

When a Covid 19 test is requested for travel reasons, rather than due to symptoms or exposure, some testing centers will require a full cash payment. While others might be completely free or require a copay depending on your insurance coverage. Most testing facilities will provide results between 48 and 72 hours, but that isn’t always the case, so make sure to be clear about all of the details before your trip.

If you need a test for your next flight, don’t forget that many testing centers deliver results over the phone which may not be suitable with air travel or if entering another country.

You could also run into issues for travel-related COVID-19 testing with the antibody tests, which identify past infections with the virus. Rapid antigen tests check proteins on the surface of the virus and also have quick turnaround times, but they often aren’t accepted either. So be sure to know what the requirements are before you travel.

In most cases the best Covid testing for travel is a PCR test (polymerase chain reaction). These tests are usually the most reliable for detecting active COVID-19 symptoms and are considered the current “gold standard” of tests.

If you live in an area without many COVID-19 testing sites, your local drug store may be the only option.

Several major drugstore chains offer PCR testing at no additional cost if you are using your insurance or if you fall under some federal programs for those without insurance.

Many Covid test centers offer online scheduling for a shorter wait. You can also schedule a drive-up appointment, so you don’t need to get out of the car at all at some testing locations.

 Actions to take to prepare for traveling:

Check Travel Restrictions:

Travelers should check the destination for state, local, and territorial government restrictions to inform themselves about testing requirements, stay-at-home orders, and quarantine requirements upon arrival before traveling to ensure they are prepared for the necessary precautions. For up-to-date information and travel guidance, check with your state or territorial health department as well as local agencies along the route you are taking and for your destination.

Prepare to be flexible during your trip as restrictions and policies may change during your travel. As previously mentioned, follow all state, local, and territorial travel restrictions.

If traveling by air, check to learn if your airline requires any additional health information, testing, or other documents.


Precautions to take during travel even if you are vaccinated:

Travelers must wear a mask when they board planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation as well as while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs like airports or stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance such as top decks of buses or ferries.

If state and local recommendations include wearing a mask and staying away from others even while outdoors, follow these recommendations.


Recommendations for unvaccinated people:

If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, take the following steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

Before you travel:

  • Get tested for COVID-19 1-3 days before your trip.

During your trip:

  • If you are not vaccinated for COVID-19: You must wear a mask when traveling by plane, train, bus, or other form of public transportation into, within the US or out of it. Travelers not vaccinated are advised to continue to wear masks and maintain a distance from other passengers in outdoor areas of a conveyance.
  • Avoid crowds, stay at least 2 arm lengths away from anyone who is not your traveling companion.
  • Keep your space clean. Take precautions to protect yourself from germs.  
  • Keep your hands clean, washing them regularly. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

After you travel:

  • Get tested for Covid 19 three to five days after travel.
  • CDC recommends that unvaccinated travelers self-quarantine after travel for 7 days with a negative test and for 10 days if they don’t get tested.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, quarantine yourself to prevent the infection being spread and infecting others in your home or close to you.
  • Follow all recommendations or requirements related to COVID-19 and domestic travel if you are not vaccinated.


Visit your state, territorial, or local health department’s website to look for the latest information on where to get tested.


Traveling Guidelines Summer 2021 Q&A:


If my flight's delayed more than three days, will I need to be re-screened?

If there is a delay in your connection of less than 48 hours and the delay is due to something out of your control, you do not need to be retested. If a passenger is delayed more than 48 hours past the 3-day limit, they will need to be retested.

Does COVID-19 spread easily on flights?

The CDC says most viruses do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. Many airlines have taken strategic precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19 before a flight?

You should delay travel plans if you experience any symptoms or have a confirmed positive test. To ensure that passengers are safe, airlines will refuse to board anyone who does not provide a recent, within 3 days, negative COVID-19 test or provided documentation of recovery.

Do I need a COVID-19 negative test if am travelling between US states but transit through a foreign country?

If you booked an itinerary from a US state or territory to another US state or territory and the itinerary has you taking a connecting flight through a foreign country, you are not required to test if you are a vaccinated traveler.

What type of Covid test is required for travelling to the United States?

The test must be a SARS-CoV-2 viral test (nucleic acid amplification test [NAAT] or antigen test) with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).



Do NOT travel if you were exposed to COVID-19you are sick, you test positive for COVID-19, or you are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test. Learn when it is safe for you to travel. Don’t travel with someone who is sick. How to avoid germs on a plane. 


What’s Next?

Don’t forget to check out our products made specifically to fulfill the hygienic needs of travelers on our products page. We at Seat Sitters are committed to making traveling and going out in public clean and healthy.