Negative COVID Test to be Required for US Entry Per January 12 CDC Order

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued an Order on requiring all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country beginning on January to present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding flights into the US. The test must have been administered no more than 3 days before the flight leaves, and the negative test (or documentary proof of having previously been infected with and having recovered from COVID-19) must be supplied to the airline before boarding the flight.

Only viral tests (NAAT or antigen tests) are acceptable tests under the CDC order. The documentation presented for a test must identifies the person who took the test, list a specimen collection date (which must be within three days before the flight), and list the type of test.

The order is universal and not restricted to nonimmigrant visa holders or parolees – even US citizens or permanent residents must present the negative test or adequate alternative documentation in order to reenter the US.

The CDC order does not replace the Presidential orders already in place barring most classes of individual present in several countries in the 14 days prior to entering from coming in (absent first obtaining a National Interest Exemption). These orders remain in place at this writing, and a negative COVID test or documentation of recovery will not overcome these entry bars.

Even individuals who have already received a COVID-19 vaccination remain subject to this order.

The CDC continues to recommend that travelers get tested 3-5 days after travel as well as self-isolate for seven days after arrival in the US, even with a negative test result (10 days if not tested).