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What to Know About Covid Home Tests for International Travelers

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With cases at unprecedented levels, Indagare members are taking more Covid tests than ever before. Many destinations require at least one test to enter, and the United States still requires proof of a negative test result to return. What is the most reliable way to find a test while overseas? Often, our preferred hotels can arrange for testing, either at a local center or on-property. Another option that we’ve seen success with when returning to the U.S. is taking an FDA-approved antigen home test under telehealth supervision. Read below for our step-by-step guide to this convenient testing solution.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer for more information on coronavirus travel safety, including the destinations that are open to travel, new COVID-19 hotel policies, future trip-planning advice, inspiration and ideas.

Related: The Indagare Guide to Travel During Covid

Returning from Abroad: Covid Testing 1, 2, 3…Who Needs a Test

All travelers, regardless of vaccination status or citizenship, must show proof of a negative viral test result to enter the United States. This test must have occurred no more than one day before air travel, and is presented to the airline when checking in. If you’ve recently recovered from Covid-19, it’s possible instead to show proof of a positive test result from within 90 days and a letter from a licensed healthcare official stating you are cleared for travel. Read more about the CDC guidelines here.

Ordering Home Antigen Tests

For most travelers, Abbott BinaxNOW ($150 for a package of six tests from eMed.com) is the easiest option, since it’s available for purchase online. Ellume Covid-19 Home tests are also approved for use, but are only available at select pharmacies. The Abbot BinaxNOW tests can only be delivered to a U.S. address, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time before the trip date.

Making the Appointment & Taking the Test

Travelers who’ve purchased Abbott BinaxNOW or Ellume tests can easily arrange a telehealth video visit (via eMed.com and the NAVICA app for Abbott BinaxNOW; via the Azova app, if you’ve opted for Ellume).

For the test itself, you’ll need a device that can connect to a reliable internet source so certified medical providers can observe the tests and walk you through the steps. Within 15 minutes, travelers will receive a certificate of their results via email.

What About False Positives?

Rapid tests are highly accurate, but on rare occasions can return false results. As a general rule, they’re much more likely to give a false negative result (usually for someone without much viral load) than they are to give a false positive one. In October 2021, however, Ellume issued a voluntary recall for specific lots of its tests because of an increased chance of incorrect positive results. Tests from these lots are no longer available for purchase, but it begs the question: what happens if you incorrectly test positive? To return to the U.S., travelers would need to find a local test provider to conduct either a second rapid test or an even more accurate rapid PCR test. Often, these testing centers are available (either on a first come, first serve basis, or with appointments) at international airports, including Athens, Abu Dhabi, Heathrow, Zurich and others.

Related: Indagare’s Frequently Asked Questions: Traveling Safely and Responsibly During Covid

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer for more information on coronavirus travel safety, including the destinations that are open to travel, new COVID-19 hotel policies, future trip-planning advice, inspiration and ideas.

– Peter Schlesinger on January 5, 2022

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