CDC Recommends Travelers Test for COVID-19 As Close 'As Possible' to Departure

The recommendation applies to both domestic and international trips.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending Americans get tested before a trip as close to their departure as possible for both domestic and international trips.

"Consider getting tested for current infection with a viral test as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 3 days) before travel," the agency wrote, also suggesting that travelers who return from a domestic trip should "Get tested for current infection with a viral test if your travel involved situations with greater risk of exposure such as being in crowded places while not wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator."

The United States still requires travelers who fly into the country to get tested for COVID-19 within one day of their flight, regardless of their vaccination status. The CDC also recommends travelers who return from an international trip to get tested three to five days after their arrival.

hand holding a negative at home coronavirus test
Carol Yepes/Getty Images

When it comes to cruise ships, the CDC requires vaccinated travelers get tested within two days of boarding a ship, while those who are "up to date" with their COVID-19 vaccines can stretch that testing window to three days. Unvaccinated cruise passengers must get tested within three days of embarkation and then again on the day of boarding with one of the tests being a PCR test.

The agency's recommendation to get tested just before heading on a trip comes as case numbers in the U.S. continue to trend upward with a 7-day moving average of new cases topping more than 90,000. That is almost entirely driven by a new omicron subvariant, BA.2, according to the agency, with several counties, especially concentrated on the East Coast, classified as having "high" rates of community transmission.

In addition to testing, the CDC also recommends travelers wear masks on public transportation like on planes and in airports despite a Florida court ruling that overturned the federal transportation mask mandate. The Department of Justice has since appealed that decision at the request of the CDC.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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