What Covid test do I need to travel to the US? Entry requirements explained and how to get a PCR test in UK

People traveling to the United States are still required to present evidence of a negative Covid test.

Many other countries have now scrapped testing requirements, including the UK and key European destinations.

There are hopes the US could soon follow suit.

Here are the current entry requirements for the US, and the testing rules explained.

What are the US entry requirements?

You will need to get a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (Esta) visa waiver to enter the US.

People must also be fully vaccinated to travel to the US. Your second dose should have been administered at least 14 days prior to travel. Booster doses are not required. The NHS app is accepted as proof of vaccination.

Passengers are also required to show a negative Covid-19 test result taken no more than one day before travel. This can be a lateral flow or PCR test. You must use a private provider, rather than a free government-provided test.

alternatively, you must display proof of having recently recovered from Covid-19.

To use proof of a recent infection in lieu of testing you must have proof of a positive test result taken in the past 90 days and a signed letter from a licensed healthcare provider or public health official that states you have been cleared for travel according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel guidance.

All arrivals must complete a Passenger Disclosure and Attestation form when traveling by air from the UK. This can be completed up to 24 hours before travel and should be done before boarding.

Children under two years old do not need to test to enter the USA. Children under the age of 18 do not need to be vaccinated to enter the country, but unvaccinated under-18s must take a test three to five days after arrival. All children, except US citizens aged under two, must complete the same Passenger Disclosure form as adults.

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When will Covid testing end for US travel?

The travel industry has been pressing the US Government to lift the testing requirement for months.

Last month US airline Delta said it was confident testing could be dropped within weeks, but this is yet to materialise.

Delta president Glen Hauenstein told analysts during the company’s first-quarter earnings call on April 13: “Hopefully that gets rolled back in the next few weeks. We are hearing good things from Washington.”

The company’s chief legal officer, Peter Carter, added: “We are getting a strong indication that pre-departure testing will be phased out in the near future, which is quite encouraging.”

However, the only move that has been made since is the CDC dropping the requirement to wear masks on planes in the US.

How do I order Covid tests?

You will need to order a Covid test from a private provider.

When purchasing, make sure that the test you are ordering is approved by the US travel authorities. The full test requirements can be found on the CDC website here. The best thing to do is to check with your chosen provider whether the test is suitable for travel to the US.

You can choose to buy a PCR or lateral flow test, but lateral flows are significantly cheaper and results can be verified very quickly, making them a much better option when traveling to the US, as the test must be taken within a day before travel.

You can either order a self-test online or go to a testing center. However, if you do a self-test, the testing procedure “must include a telehealth service affiliated with the manufacturer of the test that provides real-time supervision remotely through an audio and video connection”.

The result of the test will need to be verified before you can travel.

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