Do I need to take a COVID-19 test if I have been vaccinated?
Yes, at this time all international air passengers traveling to the US, regardless of vaccination or antibody status, are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery.
The situation is fluid and may change at a later date. If you are flying domestically, a COVID-19 test is recommended but not mandatory, please adhere to local state policies.
Very important: If you’ve traveled internationally, you need to have a negative COVID-19 test before you can return to the United States, REGARDLESS OF VACCINATION STATUS.
Do I need to be vaccinated to fly?
The jury is still out, but the chances are good that you will for international flights. The entire world is waiting for us to get back to a “normal” travel landscape, one in which travelers aren’t stuck in quarantine for 10 days. Some countries who’ve done well at keeping the pandemic outside their borders have signaled or expressly stated that they will, in fact, require full vaccination for entry. The world is already opening borders again, with these countries admitting the fully vaccinated (albeit with some restrictions)
There are also multiple plans for a “vaccine passport” requirement, which would likely be in the form of a digital passport, that people would store on an app on their phones. Multiple airlines are already testing this model, but the ethical questions associated with such a model may make them a challenge to enforce fully.
On the other hand, it is unlikely that domestic flights will ever require vaccination. Most signals from the U.S. government indicate that the safety precautions we already have in place (mask requirements and well- ventilated aircraft), will continue to be the main regulatory policies in place.
Of course, this question is complicated. Individual states could potentially mandate vaccination for entry (as certain states have done for quarantining). If that became the case, unvaccinated folks would likely still be required to self-quarantine. Right now, however, you do not need vaccination for domestic travel at all.
Do I need to take a COVID-19 test to fly domestically?
No. There is no requirement for a COVID-19 test if you’re taking a domestic flight.
However, the CDC does recommend taking a viral test 1-3 days before you travel. Some states (like Hawaii) require a negative COVID test before you will be allowed to enter freely. If you cannot provide a negative test, you’ll be required to self-quarantine.
Some municipalities also have different rules than the states they are a part of, so it’s always a good idea to check with us (or whomever booked your ticket) to understand the requirements before your travel day arrives. As the vaccine rollout accelerates, these rules will continue to relax. We have a great reference tool, with up-to-date requirements, state by state.
The CDC also recommends that everyone – even the fully vaccinated – take a test when you’ve returned from your travel plans.
Do I need to quarantine if I fly?
Once again, there is some nuance in this answer. CDC guidelines recommend self-quarantining if you don’t plan to get tested, but some states and cities/municipalities may require or recommend. If a destination requires a period of self-quarantine it might also be waived by a negative COVID-19 test or vaccine.
In addition, some schools and districts require a period of self-quarantine for families who have recently traveled.
Make sure you have all of the pertinent information for your specific trip. You can reference our COVID-19 resource center for the most up-to-date state information.
What if I test positive for COVID on my vacation? Who pays?
Obviously, the most urgent matter is to make sure you get the medical care you need if you test positive while traveling.
If you are traveling internationally, you may have purchased travel insurance with COVID-19 protections in place. You should make sure you understand which inclusions and exclusions exist on your policy. For example, some policies may cover any expenses you incur while traveling if you test positive, but they may not cover you if you decide you don’t want to travel somewhere because of infection rates in that country. More on your options if you test positive can be found here.
If I book now, but travel becomes restricted can I cancel/change my flight?
The domestic air carriers have all but eliminated penalties and fees for flight changes and cancelations. Please check with your airline for their specific terms and conditions. Though you won’t be penalized for canceling, you will have to use your flight credit in a specific time period and/or you may have to pay the difference in the cost of a rebooked ticket.
International airlines still have change and cancellation fees.
If all passengers tested negative would we still have to wear the mask on the flight?
Yes. Though the possibility is small, it is still true that someone who tested negative could be asymptomatic. Also, especially on domestic flights, not everyone will have adhered to CDC guidelines and have been tested before flying. There will be people on your flight who will prefer to self-quarantine when they land.
We know that airplanes are quite safe when outfitted with HEPA air filtration systems (which all domestic aircraft now are), but you should continue to use an abundance of caution until the infection rates are low enough/vaccination rates are high enough that the CDC lifts the mask requirement. When that happens, we will expect airlines to remove the mask mandate.
What if I had COVID, but recovered, but still test positive? Can I fly internationally?
In this very special case, you will need to provide the airline with documentation from your healthcare professional/your family care physician that gives you a “recovered” designation.
Will Travel Guard cover me if I get COVID?
You should always review the coverages on your policy, but right now Travel Guard policies do cover you for expenses if you become infected while traveling internationally.
As you can see, the situation for COVID-19 and travel is changing quickly. The best thing to do if you have a trip planned, is to keep up to date on regulations in the destination you’re traveling to as well as the U.S. requirements for travel and return home. The CDC has a great website with lots of useful information that you should acquaint yourself with as well.
The best news is that you can expect travel domestically to get easier over the coming months. We will keep you updated on developments in vaccine passports and international travel as they occur.
Information current as of 3/25/2021