It’s now a federal mandate that you must test negative for COVID-19 72-hours (or less) before being allowed back into the U.S. via commercial flight.

troubleshooting travelers in airport with masks

A positive test could mean you get stuck for extra days or weeks in another country under quarantine. This new rule is causing lots of reasonable people stress and confusion, but there are a few things to remember so you’ll be prepared just in case.

Get Travel Insurance Beforehand

Maybe you’ve never gone in for travel insurance before. Make 2021 the year you do. If you do have to self-quarantine for 14 days in a foreign country, there are third-party insurance carriers that can cover those additional accommodation and testing costs.

It’s best to consult with a travel insurance provider about the best policy to cover these potential costs. Costs for these plans vary depending on the age of the travelers, the destination and the policy inclusions.

Know the Contact Details of the American Embassy

Even though the State Department doesn’t have medical resources abroad, many embassies will offer basic assistance, like a directory of places you can acquire a test. Just navigate to the country you’ll be visiting, go to the embassy site and look for “emergency assistance for U.S. citizens” or “COVID-19 information” so you’re proactive and have this information before you go. There’s usually a phone number to call and most countries have after-hours service as well.

Understand the Different Kinds of Tests

Rapid antigen tests are controversial as they sometimes do offer false negatives in the asymptomatic. Still, because the U.S. now requires the test to happen within 72-hours of your flight, a rapid test will be accepted. This is good news because the rapid tests are often easier to find.

Rapid tests also turn up false positives (around 5%), but once you turn up with a positive test you’ll still have to quarantine. So if you do suspect a false positive in a rapid test (when you have no symptoms), you should secure a PCR test as quickly as you can.

Explore Hotels Offering Quarantine Discounts

Some savvy hotel properties are offering free or discounted quarantines for guests that test positive. Do a little extra research and you might not have to pay for those extra days at all. Of course, the properties who sign on to this program will require positive guests to isolate in their rooms and not partake of the other hotel amenities.

“Free” stays are the exception rather than the rule, but some of the larger American chains do offer COVID-19 testing for guests for a fee.

Know Your Options for Health Care

While the majority of people who test positive for COVID-19 don’t require hospitalization, you might want to see a doctor or pharmacist. Again, larger hotel chains may have a doctor on staff, or may be able to direct you to a reputable clinic. In addition, your travel insurance may offer medical treatment as an inclusion.

The possibility of getting stuck overseas with an illness like COVID-19 is an unpleasant reality right now, but keeping simple personal safety measures in place like washing your hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, and masking up can mitigate the risk. There are also countries exempt from the rule if acquiring a test is difficult.

Arming yourself with as much information as possible will go a long way to making this situation manageable. Please let us know if you have additional questions in the comments section below.


  1. Roberta Bryant

    Do we have to take test again since we already have test negative at doctor as well and do have to bring paper form to show proof or not necessarily?

    Reply ·
    • cheapair

      Hi Roberta, Do you mean you had COVID-19 and have cleared it? If you had COVID in the last 90 days you need to show proof that you are ok to travel from your doctor. Otherwise you need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken 3 day before returning to the US. Thanks

      Reply ·
  2. Joe schept

    For me this means no overseas travel at all. Too complicated, Covid test is the last straw.

    Reply ·
  3. Zineb el massioui

    I’ need vaccine

    Reply ·
  4. jean D

    I suppose to travel to Miami last juin 04 2020 no vol since then I try to beach you no answer I want to know if lose my money jean Disse thank you

    Reply ·
  5. Victoria

    This information was very useful for me, I’m going to travel in a few days and now I have a better perspective of what to do about the COVID19

    Reply ·
  6. Len Hoyt

    What if your fully vaccinated? Still get the test when it come back to the US?

    Reply ·
    • cheapair

      Yes, as of now, you need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test even if you have been vaccinated. That may change in the future but for now, it is required.

      Reply ·
  7. Orlando Garcia

    I have a Question. I am vaccinated for Covid-19. Do I still need to have negative proof test to enter the USA.
    Thank you for your answer.

    Reply ·
    • cheapair

      Hi Orlando, as of right now, yes. It is possible that may change in the future but as of now, all travelers entering the US must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 even if they have been vaccinated.

      Reply ·
    • Celeste Johnson

      Hi do you need a covid test for Las Vegas?

      Reply ·
  8. Irma Quiambao

    I love this info. This will make travelers like us life a lot easy.

    Reply ·
  9. Mayra Hernandez

    Thank you for all your info, I am traveling to Portugal in April 27 2021 and I am have the vaccine do I need to show the card to be able to travel and do I need anything else? please let me know….Thank you

    Reply ·
    • cheapair

      Hi Mayra, as of now, when you fly to the United States you will still need to show proof of a negative COVID test. A vaccine does not exempt you from that requirement at this time. Portugal requires a COVID test if you are going to Azores or Madeira Islands. These policies are fluid and may change so that we recommend checking close to your departure. Thank you

      Reply ·
  10. Maria Vazquez

    Hi I’m at NY and I going to travel to orlando and I going to come back from Miami to NY
    so my question is I going to need test for to go and come back?

    Reply ·

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