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Testing for Travel: What You Need to Know for Domestic and Int'l Travel

Key Points

  • People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved or authorized vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) can travel safely within the United States.
  • The CDC recommends that you do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated, you are less likely to get or spread the COVID-19 virus.
  • CDC travel guidelines during COVID-19 are subject to change as more information becomes available, more people become vaccinated, and rates of COVID-19 infections change.
Testing for Travel: What You Need to Know for Domestic and Int'l Travel

Key Points

  • People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved or authorized vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) can travel safely within the United States.
  • The CDC recommends that you do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated, you are less likely to get or spread the COVID-19 virus.
  • CDC travel guidelines during COVID-19 are subject to change as more information becomes available, more people become vaccinated, and rates of COVID-19 infections change.

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After a tumultuous 2020, many people are resuming domestic and international travel. If you have travel plans—whether inside or outside the United States—make sure you understand what’s required in terms of COVID testing for travel, wearing masks, and quarantining. Depending on your destination, travel guidelines and restrictions will vary.

COVID-19 Guidelines for Domestic Travel

CDC travel guidelines during COVID-19 are subject to change as more information becomes available, more people become vaccinated, and rates of COVID-19 infections change. For updated CDC travel guidelines, visit the CDC website.

Traveling within the United States

For traveling within the United States, the CDC recommends postponing travel until you are fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved or authorized vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) can travel safely within the United States.

The CDC defines fully vaccinated as:

  • Two weeks following the second dose of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), or
  • Two weeks following a single-dose vaccine (Janssen)

COVID Travel Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated People

If you are fully vaccinated, you should still plan on wearing a mask on planes, trains, buses, and other forms of public transportation. Indoor transportation hubs, such as airports and train stations, will also likely require masks. You may be able to remove your mask in certain outdoor areas, such as open-air ferries or bus decks, but wearing a mask is still recommended in crowded outdoor areas.

COVID Travel Guidelines for Unvaccinated People

If you are not fully vaccinated and need to travel, the CDC recommends getting a viral test 1-3 days before your trip. Viral tests are used to diagnose a current infection. A specimen will be taken from your nose or mouth to determine if you currently have the virus that causes COVID-19. While a specific test is not required for domestic travelers, a molecular (PCR or NAAT) COVID test is considered to be the most accurate test.

While you are traveling, wear a mask on all forms of public transportation and in transportation hubs such as airports or bus stations. Avoid crowds, maintain physical distancing, and wash your hands often.

After you travel, get another viral test 3-5 days after you return. Additionally, it is recommended that you self-quarantine for a full 7 days, even if you test negative. If you are unable to get tested, it is best that you self-quarantine for 10 days.

COVID Travel Guidelines for Hawaii

Few states have travel restrictions for those traveling within the United States, but Hawaii is an exception. If you are traveling from within the United States to Hawaii and are fully vaccinated, you may enter Hawaii without taking a COVID test or quarantining. You must upload your vaccination record to the Safe Travels website and also bring a hard copy with you.

If you are not fully vaccinated, you must have a negative test from a Trusted Testing and Travel Partner, taken no more than 72 hours before departing for Hawaii, if you wish to avoid a mandatory quarantine. Only tests from Trusted Testing and Travel Partners will be accepted. You must upload your negative test result to the Safe Travels website and also bring a hard copy with you.

If you are not fully vaccinated and do not have a negative test result, you must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in Hawaii.

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All travelers to Hawaii must complete a health questionnaire and have their temperature taken before leaving the airport.

Travel restrictions may be dropped when the state reaches a 70 percent vaccination rate. For more information, visit the State of Hawaii COVID-19 portal.

COVID Travel Guidelines for Florida

There are no travel restrictions to Florida. However, due to the Delta variant, Florida is experiencing a surge in COVID cases as of August 2021. As a result, the Florida Department of Health has issued a public health advisory. The Department of Health recommends getting fully vaccinated if you are eligible. Face coverings are recommended, both indoors and outdoors, whenever physical distancing is not possible. Avoid close-contact settings and crowded spaces.

COVID-19 Guidelines for International Travel

The CDC recommends that you do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated, you are less likely to get or spread the COVID-19 virus. However, international travel does pose additional risks, and you can still become infected with or spread the virus even if you are fully vaccinated.

If you plan on traveling internationally, make sure you understand and follow the guidelines for your destination. Guidelines for COVID testing for international travel, face coverings, and quarantining may differ from those in the United States. If you do not follow the guidelines for the country you are visiting, you may not be allowed in.

Before departing, always check the current COVID-19 situation for your destination and see if travel restrictions have changed. If possible, avoid travel to areas with high infection rates.

You will need a negative COVID test to re-enter the United States, even if you are a U.S. citizen or vaccinated. The test must be taken no more than 3 days before travel. Alternatively, you can provide proof of recovery from COVID within the past 3 months.

COVID Travel Guidelines for Mexico

The CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to Mexico if you are not fully vaccinated. As of August 2021, Mexico is experiencing high COVID infection rates, and even fully vaccinated travelers could be at an increased risk of infection.

A negative COVID test is not required for those traveling to Mexico from the United States. However, passengers arriving in Mexico may need to undergo health screenings and have their temperature checked.

COVID Travel Guidelines for Canada

American citizens may travel to Canada if they are fully vaccinated; however, visitors may be denied entry if the purpose of their trip is considered non-essential. Visitors who are not fully vaccinated and who are traveling for non-essential purposes will not be allowed into Canada.

To enter Canada, you must have a negative molecular (PCR, NAAT) test taken within 72 hours. Antigen tests are not accepted. For more information, visit the Government of Canada travel website.

COVID Travel Guidelines for Europe

Most European countries are open to American travelers, but entry requirements vary and are constantly evolving. Check the requirements for your destination before booking your trip. Some countries require negative COVID tests, and some do not. Some countries also have vaccine or quarantine requirements for travelers entering from the United States. Due to the spread of the Delta variant, some countries require both vaccination and a negative test.

Travel Guidelines When Visiting the United States

Anyone entering the United States, including American citizens and individuals who are fully vaccinated, must present one of the following:

  • A negative COVID test taken no more than 3 days before travel, and
  • Documentation of recovery from COVID within the past 3 months

After arriving in the United States, the CDC recommends undergoing a viral test and quarantining for 7 days, even if you have tested negative.


  • Where Can I Get a Covid Test for Traveling?

    COVID tests are available at many pharmacies, urgent care facilities, and community health centers. As many different types of COVID tests are available, make sure the type of test you receive meets the requirements for your destination. Visit our website to find providers who offer COVID testing for travel. Solv partners with thousands of top-quality healthcare providers nationwide to make it easy for you to access the medical care and testing you need.

  • Do I Need a Negative COVID Test to Fly?

    If you are flying within the United States, you do not need a negative COVID test if you are fully vaccinated. If you are flying to another country, check with your destination to see if a negative COVID test is required for entry. Most international destinations are currently requiring a negative molecular test taken within 72 hours of departure.

  • How Much Do COVID Tests Cost?

    In many cases, COVID testing can be free. Many state and local health departments continue to offer free testing to community residents as part of their response to the pandemic. In other cases, commercially insured patients, or those on Medicare or Medicaid, may receive testing at no out of pocket cost, or with a nominal office visit copay. For cash paying patients, or those that need rapid testing which will deliver results in under an hour, COVID tests can range from $50 to $150 each. It is best to call your healthcare provider prior to getting tested to better understand the cost of the specific test you require.

  • Is It Safe to Fly Right Now?

    Traveling during COVID-19 always involves some risk, especially now with the Delta variant causing surges in many parts of the world. If you must travel, make sure everyone in your party is fully vaccinated if eligible. Wear masks on public transportation and in crowded places, and monitor yourself for any COVID symptoms. If your destination is within driving distance, driving instead of flying will help lower your risk of infection.

  • Will I Have to Wear a Mask on the Plane?

    Yes, the CDC requires face coverings on planes and other forms of public transportation, even if you are fully vaccinated.

7 Sources

Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.