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Alerts and Updates

CDC Requires Proof of Recovery or Negative COVID-19 Test for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States

January 14, 2021

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If a passenger does not provide a negative test result or documentation of recovery, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.

Based on the increased transmissibility and spread of new strains of the virus that causes COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new rule requiring that all air passengers arriving to the United States from a foreign country provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test or documentation that the passenger has recovered from COVID-19.

The rule applies to all travelers age 2 and older arriving from a foreign country, including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. This applies to passengers of any flight entering the U.S., even for a connecting flight. Certain airline crewmembers and operators, on-duty federal law enforcement and U.S. military personnel traveling on orders are exempt. The CDC may also grant specific waivers to airlines on a case-by-case basis.

Specifically, the passenger may satisfy this rule by either getting tested no more than three days before their flight departs and providing proof of the negative result to the airline before boarding, or providing documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 and that a licensed healthcare provider has cleared the passenger for travel.

All airlines, including those operating private and chartered flights, must comply with the rule and verify that every passenger onboard has documentation of a negative test result or recovery from COVID-19 in order for aircraft to enter and disembark passengers in the U.S. If a passenger does not provide a negative test result or documentation of recovery, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.

This rule will go into effect on January 26, 2021.

Other Measures Remain 

COVID-19 health-related travel bans, such as from the Schengen area, the UK, Ireland, China and Brazil, remain in effect for certain foreign nationals, and U.S. consular closures and capacity limitations for visa interview appointments remain in place at different levels worldwide.

About Duane Morris

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For More Information

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact any of the attorneys in the Immigration Law Group, any member of the COVID-19 Strategy Team or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.