The travel industry has bounced back significantly despite the realities of Covid. One of the many reasons travelers chose to be vaccinated was so that they could travel. However, with all the developments around COVID-19, many destinations now require COVID testing before departure. While checking in for an international flight recently, I witnessed a passenger being denied travel for not having the correct testing documentation for travel. Here are a few ideas on Covid testing you should know before you go.
There are two types of COVID testing available, diagnostic and antibody tests. Each traveler should do their research on travel testing requirements. In general, there are three types of testing, an antigen or rapid test, a molecular test, also known as an RT-PCR test, and an antibody test. As stated in the name, a rapid test provides results quickly, while a molecular test may take twenty-four to forty-eight hours for results. The antibody test uses blood and can be available the same day or 1-3 days, depending on lab processing. An appointment for testing is often required, along with proof of identity and insurance if applicable.
To be sure you meet the travel-specific COVID testing requirements, travelers need to plan accordingly. Each country’s requirement, although similar, may be different. One of the main differences between the antigen/rapid test and the molecular/RT-PCR test is that the antigen/rapid test may not detect early COVID-19 infection. Due to this fact, many countries will not accept the results of an antigen test. In addition, the timing of testing can be a factor. Some destinations require testing at least 72 hours before travel.
Do the research.
Doing your research is essential as the test timing can depend on departure or arrival at the destination. Travelers must present documentation before travel, so please check with the airline or destination to be sure of testing requirements. Many airports do not have testing facilities, and as stated before, a rapid test may not fulfill requirements for proof for travel. Airlines cannot override the specific country testing requirements.
Additionally, due to COVID, passengers may be subject to medical screening. Some destinations will also require an antigen/rapid test upon arrival at the travelers’ expense. In addition, the USA still requires a negative COVID test before entering the US. There have been reports of travelers having to extend their travels due to a positive COVID test before departure. As always, I advise everyone to wash their hands frequently and wear a mask to protect themselves.
Have you had to be COVID tested for travel? How was it? I’d like to know.