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From Three to One: United States to Reduce Pre-Departure Testing Timeframe to Just One Day

From Three to One: United States to Reduce Pre-Departure Testing Timeframe to Just One Day

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has confirmed plans to possibly reduce the timeframe for pre-departure COVID-19 tests for international travel from three days to just one day.

The change, which would apply to fully vaccinated travelers, would standardize the pre-departure testing timeframe for both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers who already need to obtain a test within a single calendar day of departure.

In a statement, the CDC said a revised testing order “would shorten the timeline for required testing for all international air travelers to one day before departure to the United States.”

The change comes as the CDC learns more about the Omicron variant.

Reports in the Washington Post that the CDC wants to make quarantine on arrival and post-arrival testing mandatory, however, have been downplayed and would likely remain as advice for fully vaccinated travelers.

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers are already required to self-isolate for seven days and take a second viral test between 3-5 days after arrival in the United States.

The Biden administration is weighing up a decision to make a post-arrival test mandatory for all air travelers, including fully vaccinated U.S. citizens.

When the administration first introduced pre-departure testing requirements, it chose a three-day timeframe because access to testing was still patchy in many international jurisdictions.

Testing infrastructure has vastly improved in the last six months and a one-day timeframe is now easily achievable for the majority of travelers. The minimum requirement for a pre-departure test is a rapid antigen test which can produce results in as little as 15-minutes.

View Comments (2)
  • Yes antigen tests can be done in 15 minutes, but the issue is that the US requires its tests to be proctored, which complicates matters since appointments are not easy to come by on Sundays and holidays. Reducing the window to one day will complicate Christmas travel plans significantly.

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