UPDATED: March 8, 2022

The U.S. government is giving U.S. residents another round of the four free COVID tests. I’ve had no problems ordering and each time took less than a minute. My first delivery took about 10 days.

The website is COVIDTests.gov and each residential address is eligible for four tests. According to WhiteHouse.gov: “Tests will usually ship within 7-12 days of ordering.”

I received multiple emails from readers asking if those free tests sent by the U.S. government can be used for international travel. Unfortunately, they’re not, at least when it comes to returning to the United States.

Per the CDC: “Before boarding a flight to the United States, you are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 1 day before travel. There is also an option for people who have documented recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days. Children under 2 years old do not need to test.”

The CDC says you can use a self-test (sometimes referred to as home test) that meets the following criteria: “The test must be a SARS-CoV-2 viral test (nucleic acid amplification test [NAAT] or antigen test) with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) OR the relevant national authority where the test is administered. 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.”

As far as using the test to get into other countries, it all depends on their requirements but the ones that do require a test usually require a PCR or an in-person antigen test from an authorized company. I’m sure you heard about the horror stories of visitors to Hawaii getting denied entry or having to quarantine because their test wasn’t acceptable, even from places like the Mayo Clinic.

However, these free tests from the government are still great to have so you can test before leaving the country even if the country doesn’t require it because it can save you a lot of time, money and hassle. It’s important to find out before getting on a plane that you’re Covid positive or not. This happened to one of my friends recently when he went to New York City for a two-day conference. When they tested all attendees on arrival, he tested positive. He ended up having to quarantine in his hotel room for 10 days. Ugh.

7 Comments On "Can The US Government’s Free COVID Tests Be Used for Travel?"
  1. BAZ|

    What kind of tests are the ones from the government if they can’t be used as “at home tests”?

  2. Juan|

    So the USA does not accept the tests that they send to us? Why would that be?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      They have to be proctored

  3. Ctmjr|

    So what is the best way to get a test before returning to the USA from Greece on May 11, 2022? Asking for a friend ?

  4. Rocky|

    Can you give us a list of acceptable self-tests that can be used to return to the US? That would be very helpful.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      I believe the CDC lists them

  5. Debbie Erickson|

    The entry rules for Covid testing has changed. Covid test results are NOT required to enter the US.

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