CDC permits results from COVID-19 home testing kits for international arrivals

By Doug Gollan, May 8, 2021

In response to a private aviation coalition request, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for pre-departure testing

In response to a request from general aviation (GA) trade groups, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for pre-departure testing. The new CDC guidance permits certain COVID-19 home testing kits to be accepted for passengers entering the U.S. The COVID testing mandate launched in January.

In a letter to the agency, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) stated, “[T]he need for pre-flight COVID-19 testing protocols is becoming more critical as travel continues to increase worldwide. However, current international protocols are burdensome, time-consuming, and have inherent limitations in processing large numbers of travelers.”

Currently, international passengers must show a negative COVID-19 result within 72 hours before boarding an aircraft destined for the U.S. The results must come from an authorized testing center and laboratory to ensure the result matches the passenger and is entered into appropriate tracking systems.

The updated CDC guidance now allows for self-tests, sometimes referred to as home tests. According to the CDC, the testing procedure must include a telehealth service affiliated with the manufacturer of the test that provides real-time supervision remotely through an audio and video connection.

The CDC notes that some countries may restrict the importation of unauthorized or unregistered tests. Therefore, it advises travelers to contact authorities at their destination for information before they travel.

“The nature of the missions operated by the general aviation community is such that short-notice, on-site testing will be a significant aid in ensuring all passengers are appropriately tested for international flights,” the group concluded.

The coalition said it will continue to work with the CDC on efficient compliance with international testing requirements.

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