COVID Test Requirements for Domestic and International Flights

A nurse holding a corona virus test with the map of the world behind him.

At the beginning of the year, the Biden administration started introducing new rules and regulations for flight travel during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In addition to a national mask mandate, President Biden announced an executive order detailing the new proposed policies regarding COVID testing for travel.1 These requirements are supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as leaders from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Department of Transportation, and Homeland Security. While a COVID-19 test for travel is required for international flights, it is not yet required for domestic flights.

Negative COVID-19 Test Required For International Flight Passengers

Travelers flying from a foreign country to the United States are now required to provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 before boarding their international flights.2 International travelers will need to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departure date and show negative results to the airline before boarding. If you had COVID-19 while in a foreign country, you would need to show documentation from a healthcare provider or public health official that you have recovered from COVID-19 in addition to a negative test result. This order applies to all air passengers, 2 years of age or older, traveling to the U.S. including tourists, visa holders, permanent residents, and American citizens.

COVID Testing For Travel Not Required For Domestic Flights

A negative COVID test to fly is not required when traveling domestically. The Biden administration did consider announcing a COVID test mandate for domestic flights, but at the beginning of February announced they were ruling it out, for now, citing CDC recommendations.

“President Biden has taken a number of steps to make travel safer since coming into office, including requiring masking on all air travel and public transit, pre-departure testing for inbound international travel, and self-quarantine and testing after international travel. At this time, CDC is not recommending required point of departure testing for domestic travel. As always, we will follow the science to bring this pandemic to an end.” – White House Spokesman Kevin Munoz 3

This decision came after strong pushback from major U.S. aviation groups against mandatory COVID-19 tests for domestic flights. The Air Transport Association, Airlines for America, U.S. Travel Association, Aerospace Industries Association, and aviation union and airport groups came together to urge the President not to require COVID tests for travel from passengers for domestic flights. Writing in a letter to the White House, they argued requiring tests was “unwarranted” and disproportionally prevent low-income travelers and rural Americans from travel.4

As of now, COVID-19 tests are not required for passengers flying within the U.S. Travelers flying from a U.S. territory to the mainland, and vice versa, are also not required to get tested for COVID.2 U.S. territories include American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Biden’s decision isn’t final; COVID testing requirements may become broader later on depending on CDC recommendations. Sheffield School of Aeronautics will keep a close eye on any updates to the travel requirements imposed by the CDC and the White House.

Sheffield School of Aeronautics is one of the oldest aviation training institutions in the United States, where you can take a flight dispatcher course and obtain your FAA dispatcher license. With an outstanding reputation in the aviation industry, our aeronautics school is recognized by companies like Delta, United, KLM, American, Virgin Australia, Cayman Airways, Shanghai/China Eastern, ExpressJet, Federal Express, UPS, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, United Technologies, Mobil Oil, Gulf Air, Atlantic Southeast, Comair, Mesaba, Horizon, American Trans Air, and many others for aircraft dispatcher training. If you’re interested in becoming an aircraft dispatcher, contact us to get started: 954-581-6022.

Sources: 

  1. The White House – Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States
  3. Josh Wingrove, Bloomberg – Biden Rules Out Covid Test Mandate for Domestic Flights, for Now
  4. David Shepardson & Tracy Rucinski – U.S. aviation groups urge White House against COVID-19 tests for domestic flights

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