New U.S. COVID-19 test requirements for international arrivals extend to private jets

By Doug Gollan, January 12, 2021

Passengers arriving in the U.S. by private jet after Jan. 26, 2021, will need to have COVID-19 testing documentation

Private jet travelers should pay attention to charter and jet card cancelation terms for international flights

Effective January 26, 2021, there are new COVID-19 related requirements for all air passengers arriving to the U.S. from a foreign country.

All passengers, regardless of citizenship, need to get tested for COVID-19 infection no more than three days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight, according to a new directive from the Center for Disease Control released this evening.

The order applies to all flights, including private flights and general aviation aircraft charter flights. Passengers traveling by air into the U.S. are required to have proof of testing regardless of flight type. It also includes those of you who have already received COVID-19 vaccinations.

A verifiable test result must be in the form of written documentation (paper or electronic copy) of a laboratory test result. Testing must be performed using a viral test (NAAT or antigen), and negative results must be provided before boarding.

The test result documentation must include information that identifies the person, a specimen collection date, and the test type. A negative test result must show the test was done within the three days before the flight. A positive test result must show the test was done within the three months before the flight.

CDC requires that air passengers arriving in the US have a paper or electronic copy of their test result for review by the airline before you board and for potential review by public health officials after you arrive in the U.S.

Operators of private flights and general aviation aircraft must maintain passenger attestations for two years, per the Order. Passengers must show a copy of their test results to airline employees or the aircraft operator before boarding, but the airline or aircraft operator does not need to retain copies of test results.

The testing and attestation requirements do not apply to children under 2 years of age.

A frequently asked questions summary from the CDC is here. The short implication will be arranging proper testing before you jet back, so one expects to hear more news from international destinations and resorts as they seek to assist their visitors from the U.S. for their return.

The news highlights that you should pay close attention to the cancelation terms for your private jet charter or your jet card program to make sure if you have any testing issues, you don’t also lose your return flight cost.

(Updated Jan 13, 2021, at 1:07PM ET) An email from the National Air Transport Association to members noted, “NATA strongly advises operators to proactively reach out to international travelers to ensure they have a testing plan for their trip. Operators should also review their contracts and cancelation policies to ensure they account for any potential contingencies associated with this Order, including positive test results from crew or passengers, passenger refusal to test or provide attestation, or passenger failure to test in the required time window.”

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