What Covid Test Do You Need For Travel?

Countries around the world are imposing various Covid-19 travel restrictions, so anyone traveling should know whether they need a Covid test for travel to meet set requirements. Whether traveling domestically or internationally, most countries will decline entry if these requirements aren’t met.

For example, if you are traveling to the Netherlands, airport authorities will decline entry if you do not have a negative Covid test for travel. The same goes for many other countries. The best way to ensure you meet destination Covid-19 test requirements is to know which Covid test for travel is needed and get tested before you travel.

What Covid test for travel do domestic and international destinations accept?

Covid-19 tests fall under two categories:

  • Viral tests (NAAT and antigen)
  • Antibody tests

Viral Covid-19 tests

Viral tests are used to detect an active Covid-19 infection and typically employ two types of tests: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests.

NAAT tests, under which PCR tests fall, check for viral genetic materials (nucleic acids) in the body. Due to amplification, such tests can detect as little as one viral nucleic acid molecule in a sample. Such a high level of sensitivity makes NAAT tests accurate in determining whether an individual is infected, even if they show no symptoms.

Unlike NAAT tests that check for genetic materials, antigen tests detect proteins or glycans, in this case, spike proteins found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Since accurate testing requires identifying the correct corresponding antibodies, antigen testing can be less accurate and more complex than NAAT tests like PCR.

Antibody Covid-19 tests

Antibody tests check for antibodies in an individual’s blood or serum after they have been infected. While effective in telling whether an individual had Covid-19, they cannot accurately detect an active infection.

In addition, if the infection occurred more than three months before the test, the test might not detect antibodies. Because of these limitations, the WHO does not recommend a negative antigen test as substantial proof of immunity.

Which test should you get before traveling?

Since most travel destinations want to know if you are currently infected rather than your past infection status, they will require a negative NAAT (PCR) test. Although you can choose antigen and antibody tests for other testing requirements, you should take only a PCR test for traveling purposes.

Where to get a Covid-19 test before traveling

Covid tests can be found at many walk-in clinics, testing centers, and doctors offices. You’ll need to check your local options to determine what options you have for stand-alone testing centers.

Prior to heading out on your flight, you can also contact your chosen airport to determine if they offer rapid antigen tests or rapid PCR tests on site. This may be a convenient option if you have an early flight and would rather get tested the day of. However, it may be easier to get tested a day or two before your flight so that you don’t have to do it all the morning of your flight.

You can also get tested at home with a mobile medical service. These private testing services offer convenient, on-site testing that can be worked around even the busiest of schedules. All you’ll have to do is contact the testing service, schedule an appointment, and wait for a certified nurse to arrive. The nurse will bring all required material, including paperwork and supplies. You’ll get swabbed and receive your test results in as little as 15 minutes, depending on your test of choice.

What else do you need to travel during Covid?

If you’re planning to travel internationally, the CDC requires that you have a negative Covid test result from no more than three days prior. You’ll need to have documentation of this negative test result to show the airline prior to boarding. It is also recommended that you get tested for 3-5 days again after returning home.

As far as documentation, your destination may require you to provide proof of your negative test results, proof of vaccination (if you are vaccinated), and/or proof of recent recovery from Covid-19 if you were recently infected.

In these cases, if you recently had Covid, you may need to show proof of the positive test you received when diagnosed and show a doctor’s note stating that you are cleared to travel. Visit the CDC website for the most up-to-date recommendations on traveling during Covid.

When not to travel

Although it can be disappointing to have to cancel or reschedule your travel, it is absolutely worth it to play it safe.

It is recommended to delay travel if you or anyone whom you plan to travel with is experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms or if you’ve recently been exposed to someone who was known to have Covid-19.

Also, delay travel if you’ve recently had a positive Covid test or are currently experiencing any of the following symptoms. It’s important to delay your travel until you are feeling better and have tested negative for Covid-19.

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Loss of taste or smell

If the date of your vacation is approaching and you are beginning to feel ill, you should cancel your flight and get tested for Covid right away. Most airlines offer Covid protection, and you may be able to easily reschedule your flight or even get a refund. Contact your airline to find out more information on their refund policies.



Staying Safe Before, During, And After Travel

Although the countries above are designated as safe places to travel during Covid, it is always best to exercise some caution before, during, and after travel.

  • If you are fully vaccinated, you are not required to test before and after arriving from international travel unless needed at your destination country.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated, testing before and after travel can reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 to your loved ones and ensure you take appropriate and timely treatment measures.

Drip Hydration offers a wide range of in-home rapid and standard Covid-19 tests to give you peace of mind before and after you travel. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by testing for Covid-19 in the convenience of your home. To find out if our in-home Covid-19 testing service is available in your area, please give us a call or book an appointment using the button below.