Biden’s free at-home tests for Americans don’t work for travel: Here are tests that do

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The free at-home Covid-19 tests the Biden administration is set to give Americans won’t work for travel. While Americans will be able to take advantage of the free tests starting next week, those looking to use them for travel purposes may be disappointed as many destinations are unlikely to accept the tests as part of their entry requirements – including the US for those who aim to to use them to return home.

Fortunately, however, there are several types of home tests that are suitable for travel purposes – although most require supervision to be accepted. Here’s a look at why the free at-home tests won’t be accepted for travel when they roll out next week, and a look at what at-home tests Americans can use for travel purposes.

Home tests are not accepted – information for travelers

To enter or return to the United States from a trip abroad, all travelers must now provide proof of a negative Covid-19 virus test within one day prior to departure for the United States. These tests can be either rapid antigen tests (also known as lateral flow tests) or PCR tests. However, travelers should note that not every test of this type will be accepted by the US – and that certainly applies to the at-home test kits that will be available next week.

Beginning Jan. 19, Americans will be able to have four home tests per address delivered, with more than 400 million test kits available. Although these are the same type of tests that can be used for travel, these test kits cannot be used as proof of negative testing before entering the US or most other countries around the world.

The reason they cannot be used is because they are self-tests, which means they are not supervised by a doctor. Some test kits require a consultation with a telemedicine provider over a video call, which allows the test to be monitored – or supervised – to ensure it is being performed correctly and that the result of the test is accurate. Upon completion, a report is generated confirming identity, laboratory or healthcare facility name, type of test, and date of sample collection. These tests are the types that are accepted for travel.

Because the free at-home tests, due to be available from the 19th, are not overseen by a doctor, there is no way to verify that the test was performed correctly or that the result was correct, and no documentation is provided – which means that they cannot be accepted for travel purposes. This is also the case in the UK, where NHS test kits are also not accepted for travel for similar reasons.

Fortunately, there are different types of home tests that are accepted for travel purposes. These include:

  • BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Home Test – A trained telemedicine practitioner guides users through the test via video call and emails their test results
  • Ellume COVID-19 Home Test with Azova – Travelers take a 15-minute test with video surveillance, after which results are delivered via app or email
  • Detect Covid-19 Test – Travelers must also purchase a voucher for a video observation session, which comes with a certified travel record
Passport and PCR test

Travelers should carefully check the entry requirements of their destinations to ensure their test will be accepted, as well as any other requirements they may need to meet in order to gain entry.

Continue reading:

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Disclaimer: Current Travel Rules and Restrictions are subject to change without prior notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Before travelling, check with your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm entry of your nationality and/or any changes in travel requirements. Travel Off Path does not endorse travel contrary to government advice

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