CDC to Require Negative COVID Tests for All International Air Passengers

January 15, 2021

Doctor giving COVID-19 test

The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an order that will take effect on January 26, 2021, requiring all arriving international airline passengers to provide proof of a negative COVID test taken within three days of the flight’s foreign departure. For those who have had it, the CDC will require proof of recovery.

The CDC stated on January 12, 2021:

The negative pre-departure test must be a viral test that was conducted on a specimen collected during the 3 calendar days preceding the flight’s departure from a foreign country (Qualifying Test). Alternatively, if the passenger has recovered from COVID-19, the passenger may instead travel with written or electronic documentation of a positive viral test result that confirms previous SARS-CoV-2 infection and a letter from a licensed health care provider or public health official stating that the passenger has been cleared for travel (Documentation of Recovery). A passenger must retain written or electronic documentation reflecting the negative Qualifying Test result or Documentation of Recovery presented to the airline or other aircraft operator. A passenger must also produce such Qualifying Test result or Documentation of Recovery upon request to any U.S. government official or a cooperating state or local public health authority.

The order states it exempts the following people:

Crew members of airlines or other aircraft operators provided that they follow industry standard protocols for the prevention of COVID-19 as set forth in relevant Safety Alerts for Operators (SAFOs) issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Airlines or other aircraft operators transporting passengers with COVID-19 pursuant to CDC authorization and in accordance with CDC guidance.

Federal law enforcement personnel while on official duty and carrying out a law enforcement function and members of the U.S. military (including aircraft operators), when traveling under competent orders—provided that the authority ordering the travel requires precautions to prevent the possible transmission of infection to others during the travel period in accordance with CDC guidance.

Airlines or other aircraft operators granted specific waivers from the application of this Order based on CDC’s determination that a foreign country lacks available SARS-CoV-2 testing capacity. Such waivers may be granted based on a specific request made by an airline or aircraft operator to the CDC and will be limited to 14 days unless renewed by CDC.

Dykema will continue to keep you updated on this. For more information, please contact James Aldrich (248-203-0583 or or your regular Dykema contact.

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