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Where to get a COVID-19 test for travel



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Visit the WHO website for the most current news and information about the coronavirus pandemic.

As more and more people use their vaccinations, The desire to travel is getting stronger, largely fueled by declining cases of COVID-19. The world is starting to feel a little bit safer.

As you prepare to cure your cabin fever, don’t forget that you have proof of one negative COVID-19 test to travel to many destinations – and to return to the US, if you plan traveling abroad

Although COVID-19 tests are no longer in short supply, in some places you will still not be tested if you have no symptoms or known exposure. That said, there are plenty of locations where you can get tested for COVID-19 before traveling, as detailed below.

Community testing centers

Chances are a park or parking lot near you is reserved for drive-through COVID-19 testing. Some community testing sites are operated by state or local governments, others are operated by private companies, and others may be a partnership between the two.

For example, Color is a medical testing company with several testing locations throughout California.

To find community testing sites near you, check your local health department’s website. If you can’t find a test site that way, you can search Google for ‘COVID-19 testing near me’ or ‘COVID-19 testing in [city]should do the trick.

You may have to pay for a test at a community testing center, as tests are generally reserved for people with symptoms (and recreational travel is still not encouraged). However, some testing sites offer free tests even if you don’t have any symptoms.

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Washington, DC

A drive-through test may be the most convenient option.

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Most emergency care centers provide both PCR and fast COVID-19 antigen tests. Check the website of local emergency care centers or call to see if tests are available. Most cities have multiple emergency care centers, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a test this way. Again, whether you pay depends on the specific policies of each emergency care center.

Doctor’s offices and clinics

Your primary care provider may be willing to test you for COVID-19 if you have no symptoms, although your insurance may not cover the test or the cost of the office visit for this purpose. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Passport Health, a travel medicine and immunization agency with clinics in the US, offers COVID-19 tests specifically for travel. The agency has offices in 33 states.

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Your doctor can offer you a COVID-19 test for travel.

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Pharmacies

Most major pharmacy chains offer COVID-19 travel tests, but you’ll likely have to pay out of pocket. Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid all have COVID-19 tests available for travel. The exact costs you incur can vary, but the out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 tests generally range between $ 100 and $ 150.

Kroger and Walmart pharmacies also offer COVID-19 testing in some states, and the same rule applies: The test is free if you have symptoms, but you have to pay for travel, recreation, or just peace of mind.

If you are going to a local pharmacy (not a chain), call the location to see if they offer travel COVID-19 testing. Chances are they have tests available, but it may cost more to get one from an independent company than from a large company.

Medical laboratories

Take out the middleman and go straight to a medical lab for your COVID-19 test. Quest Diagnostics, the laboratory where many tests are processed anyway, offers drive-through COVID-19 tests. The lab requires you to pay for the test if you don’t show any symptoms.

Curative is a new medical laboratory established in January 2020 to develop a new type of sepsis test. The company quickly turned to conduct COVID-19 testing in March and now offers COVID-19 testing at more than 10,000 locations in the US. Curative processes all of its tests in its laboratories in San Dimas, California; Pflugerville, Texas; and Washington, DC.

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James Martin / CNET

Hotels

Some travel destinations offer guests COVID-19 testing. Call your destination to see if they offer return testing, that is, the one you need to return to the US. Keep in mind that you will still need to arrange your own test to get to your destination.

Airports

Many airports offer COVID-19 passenger travel tests. Whether or not it will cost you depends on a number of factors, including which entity exactly delivers the test; whether they bill health insurance; and whether people who exhibit symptoms are prioritized.

Search the airport’s official website to find out if the airport you’re flying from offers COVID-19 testing. You may also have some luck on the website of your favorite airline. Delta has a handy tool that can help you find a list of airport test locations based on the country you are traveling from. United has information specific to certain cities and countries.

Keep in mind that some airports may not offer quick tests, which means you shouldn’t have to wait until the day of your flight to get your test. Not only could you miss your flight due to a long queue, but if you can’t get fast results, you may not be able to board at all.

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You may be able to find a COVID-19 test at the airport, but don’t count on getting your results right before your flight.

Piyamas Dulmunsumphun / EyeEm / Getty Images

Home

If you have some time to spare, consider buying a COVID-19 home collection kit instead of running a test.

There are more than 10 COVID-19 tests at home available to people with no symptoms or known exposure, including those from Everlywell, LetsGetChecked, and Picture from Fulgent Genetics.

You can even order one on Amazon or call your local drugstore to see if they stock the new one over-the-counter COVID-19 test from Ellume

From the time you order one of these tests, it will take five to seven days to get your results, so this option is best for those planning ahead.

At home with a healthcare provider

Ready, a new telecom emergency care platform backed by GV, Google’s investment arm, offers rapid COVID-19 at-home testing. Book your appointment online and a qualified health professional will show up at your door to administer the test. You can also order a test by mail and take it while a healthcare provider is supervising through a video call.

BeeperMD offers a similar service, but currently only in Florida.

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Home kits are a great option for those who have time to spare for their travels.

Amanda Capritto / CNET

When should you get your COVID-19 test for travel?

Time – or rather, timing – is of the essence when it comes to getting a COVID-19 test for travel. The exact guidelines to follow depend on where you’re going, where you’re from, and whether or not you’re visiting multiple locations.

In general, it is a good idea to take your COVID-19 test so that you receive results within three days of the trip. This means that you can take a rapid antigen test 24 to 72 hours before you travel, or you can take a PCR test four to six days before you travel. PCR tests usually take 24 to 72 hours to process.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.


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