CDC Expands COVID-19 Testing Requirements for All Incoming Air Passengers | Morgan lewis


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order on January 12 stating that all air passengers over the age of 2 (including US citizens and green card holders) are required to get tested COVID-19 negative before leaving any foreign country. or to produce evidence of their recovery from COVID-19.

The order applies to all commercial airlines, as well as to passengers traveling via private and charter flights. The new requirements will take effect on January 26, 2021 and will remain in effect until (1) the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services declares that COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency or ( 2) The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cancels the order, or if neither of these scenarios occurs, until December 31, 2021. The order applies regardless of nationality, and U.S. citizens and permanent residents returning to the United States are subject to it if they arrive on or after January 26.

The ordinance expressly states that all air travelers must take a of the next.


All incoming air passengers (over 2 years of age) from any country are required to provide written documentation of their negative laboratory test result, certification (on paper or electronically), as well as ” a written certificate to their airline during the check. -in (for transmission to CDC). Parents and authorized persons are allowed to attest on behalf of passengers aged 2 to 17 years old. There is no provision in the CDC order requiring the submission of a negative test result or attestation to US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP), although travelers from the UK are required to retain a copy of the negative test result for submission to the USCBP upon request.

For those arriving in the United States via a direct flight, the test must have been performed on the basis of a sample taken within three calendar days of departure. Please note that this means that the test must have been taken and the result obtained within 72 hours of boarding. Many testing agencies take more than 72 hours to produce a test result, so this should be kept in mind.

If the passenger arrives in the United States via connecting flights, the test must have been completed within three calendar days prior to the departure of the original flight if

  • connecting flights were booked as a single passenger record with a destination in the United States;
  • each connection does not last more than 24 hours; and
  • the airline requires compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols.

If the connecting flight to the United States was booked separately Where any flight on the route lasts longer than 24 hours, a retest must be obtained within three days of arrival in the United States.

If the three-day limit is exceeded due to a delay in the departure of the flight, the passenger will have to be retested.

The COVID-19 test must be a viral test to determine the current state of the infection, which means a viral antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). The test result should read “Negative”, “SARS-CoV-2 RNA not detected”, “SARS-CoV-2 antigen not detected” or “COVID-19 not detected. Tests marked as “invalid” are not acceptable for this purpose.


In the absence of providing an attestation of a negative COVID-19 test, all passengers over 2 years of age arriving in the United States by air transport from any country who have previously been infected with COVID-19 must produce all of the following to prove recovery from COVID-19:

  • Proof of a positive test result
  • Letter signed by a licensed healthcare provider or public health official stating that the passenger has been cleared for travel. The letter must be printed on official letterhead with the name, address and telephone number of the signatory
  • Passport or travel document with personal identifiers (name and date of birth) that correspond to the personal identifiers indicated on the positive result of the test and signed letter from a licensed health care provider / public health official

The positive test result must have occurred within the last three months (90 days) prior to the inbound flight to the United States, and must have been a viral test (i.e. a viral antigen test or nucleic acid amplification test) with the result “,” SARS-CoV-2 RNA detected “,” SARS-CoV-2 antigen detected “or” COVID-19 detected. Tests marked as “invalid” are not acceptable for this purpose.

With respect to both the current negative test result and the former positive test result with the current travel authorization, all passengers must retain written or electronic proof for presentation to the airline. Airlines are required to deny boarding to people who fail to produce the required evidence. Additionally, documentation should also be made available to any U.S. government, state, or local public health official requesting proof of a negative test result or cure from COVID-19.

People who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are not exempt from the testing requirement and are still required to produce the aforementioned evidence.


Currently, the country-specific COVID-19 travel bans put in place earlier this year (Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996 and 10041) remain in place, and testing requirements / documents mentioned above do not exempt foreigners who are subject to these restrictions.

These people will still need to obtain prior authorization to enter the United States in addition to providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test or recovery from a past COVID-19 infection. It is possible that in the coming weeks, the country-specific bans will be lifted, once the testing rules are in place.

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