Now that many businesses and travel destinations are opening back up under COVID-19 guidelines, you may be wondering: just how do I get a COVID-19 test for travel near me?
Finding a testing locale isn’t too difficult, but it does require a little understanding of just what type of test you need for both domestic and international flights, when you need it, and where each type of test is offered. Both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and certain airports and airlines may require you to show proof that you’re negative for the COVID-19 virus, either with an antigen test or more commonly the “gold standard” polymer chain reaction (PCR) test.
In this short guide we’ll review the current COVID-19 testing requirements for international and domestic flights, the benefits of COVID-19 testing for both business and cruise ship travel, your testing locale options, and the best type of test to ensure that you, your loved ones, and those you come in contact with are safe and free of the COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 virus before you embark on your next travel excursion.
What COVID-19 Test is Required for Travel?
CommunityLab Tip: Before planning your next trip, you can check out the COVID-19 travel situation by using this helpful
COVID-19 Test for International Travel
International travel requires showing proof of a negative viral test within 3 days of boarding your flight back into the United States for all passengers age two and over, including U.S. citizens. This test is also recommended 1-3 days prior to departure from the United States. In fact, many countries around the world require that you show proof of a negative viral test in order to enter their territory.
Why a Viral Test?
Viral tests show whether or not you currently have the COVID-19 virus. The most common types are rapid antigen tests and PCR tests. Because antigen tests have a significant chance of showing a false negative, meaning you may actually have the virus even when the test indicates you do not, the CDC requires a confirmatory COVID-19 PCR test in certain situations. This includes if your antigen test comes back negative but you have symptoms of SARS-CoV-2, or if you have been exposed to someone with the virus.
In addition, the CDC recommends viral testing for the COVID-19 virus 3-5 days after you return from international travel to ensure that you’re free and clear of the disease, and that you don’t spread it to loved ones or members of your community.
COVID-19 Test for Domestic Travel
Although the CDC doesn’t require a COVID-19 test for domestic travel, many airlines and airports do if you’re unvaccinated, coming from a high risk area, or your flight route takes you to locales with high infection rates, such as Chicago or certain parts of Kansas. Hawaii also require a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival in order to bypass their mandatory quarantine period upon entry into the state.
Even though the CDC doesn’t require testing after domestic traveling, it may give you peace of mind to get tested. As you’ll see in a moment, you can do so with an easy at-home saliva collection kit and order ahead whenever you need to return home. This helps ensure that you don’t spread the disease to family and coworkers, as even vaccinated people can pass on COVID-19. This is especially beneficial if you’ve traveled in areas that have higher infection rates.
What are the Benefits of a PCR COVID-19 Test for Travel?
PCR COVID-19 Test for Business Travel
Business owners and staff members alike can reduce their risk of infection, lost time, and reduced profits after business travel by taking the “gold standard” PCR test, which doesn’t require a second costly confirmation test like antigen tests sometimes do.
One survey of 54 small businesses showed an average 39% decline of employment due to the pandemic, and that’s a key reason why CommunityLab created our COVID-19 Business Packages, with drop ship options available for employees who travel.
These tests are designed to:
- Improve workplace health for staff and customers
- Make business travel safer
- Increase morale
- Boost productivity (and profits!) by reducing the spread of the virus
PCR COVID-19 Test for Cruise Ship Travel
Cruise ships are often considered a top travel option for adventurous people seeking to explore multiple cultures while at sea.Yet, they are also notorious environments for spreading viruses because of the relatively close quarters.
To make sure you safely enjoy the stunning landscapes and fun social scenes of your next cruise to the fullest, the CDC has put together some strong recommendations for COVID-19 passenger cruise ship testing, under their Level 3 Travel Health Notice:
- Get tested for COVID-19 1-3 days prior to cruise departure
- Obtain a second test 3-5 days after your return
Since the average cruise ship passenger is 45 years old and has medical health conditions, PCR testing helps keep vulnerable populations safe from the virus.
Planning a cruise? Check your cruise ship COVID-19 status here!
What are the best types of PCR Tests for Travel?
COVID-19 Saliva Tests for Travel
PCR Saliva COVID-19 tests that don’t require nasal and throat swabbing provide the most convenience and comfort for travelers on the go. A saliva test for COVID-19 also is one of the easiest samples to collect. Plus, COVID-19 saliva test accuracy is considered the best in the industry.
Regular vs. Rapid PCR COVID-19 Tests for Travel
PCR COVID-19 saliva test accuracy is comparable to that of regular PCR nasal and throat swab tests. However, with regular PCR tests you’ll typically have to wait 72 hours or more for your results to come back.
With a rapid PCR test using the new SalivaDirect™ method, you’ll significantly cut down on the time it takes to get your results, without sacrificing accuracy. This “rapid” pcr method for COVID-19 provides results in 24-48 hours so you can be on your way without experiencing costly travel delays.
Where to Get COVID-19 Tests for Travel?
Finding a PCR COVID-19 Test Near Me for Travel
1. Take Home COVID-19 Tests for Travel
Drug stores, pharmacies and some grocery chains carry take-home rapid antigen and PCR tests. Rapid antigen tests won’t be lab analyzed and therefore don’t have as high a degree of accuracy.
2. Airport COVID-19 Tests for Travel
To help their passengers, many airlines and airports now offer testing for their passengers who are arriving from and departing to certain locations.
3. Hotel COVID-19 Tests for Travel
Some international hotel chains also provide COVID-19 testing to ensure their clientele are virus-free, or to help them understand if they need to seek medical attention and quarantine.
4. At Home Mail-In COVID-19 Tests for Travel
At-home mail-in PCR tests can be delivered anywhere – to your hotel, home, or business location –and then returned via mail service for lab analysis, making them the most convenient and highly accurate form of testing.
Only a few laboratories have been designated to perform SalivaDirect™ PCR testing, which is the premier rapid COVID-19 saliva test for travel because of its ease of use, affordability, and accuracy. You can obtain your PCR COVID-19 at-home collection kit here for fast turnaround time.
5. In-Person COVID-19 Tests for Travel
If you prefer to make an appointment online, you can do a convenient drive-up test in your local community to save time on the long lines at the airport or hotel testing center.
Our CommunityLab curbside COVID-19 testing site allows you to preschedule an arrival date and time that’s best for you, and then drive up to our lab near Asheville, NC for quick collection, analysis, and results of your rapid PCR test. Schedule online and then stop in today!