Update: Readers have reported to me that they were able to order this set of 6 tests for one person and then use them for 6 different people in order to fly to the US! Each test has a unique QR code that can be scanned and used by anyone. You do not need to swab deep into your nose like some PCR tests require.
Originally posted on 5/13:
The CDC has approved the use of FDA approved COVID-19 telehealth monitored self-tests to use in order to enter US after traveling abroad.
The test must be taken within 3 days before departure, so if your flight is Wednesday afternoon, you can take a test as soon as 12:01AM on Sunday.
United and Abbott are marketing a new COVID-19 antigen self-test with telehealth monitoring as an excellent way to travel abroad without needing to find a testing center.
eMed is selling a 6 pack of travel approved Abbott’s BinaxNOW self-tests for $150 plus shipping. You will get a receipt that you can send to your insurance company to see if they will cover the costs. The tests can easily fit into a carry-on bag.
eMed will provide the prescription and on-demand telehealth to watch you open, take the test, and get the results. You’ll need a strong internet connection and about half an hour to perform the test and get the results. You can then show the results on the NAVICA app for Android or iOS to your airline that you tested negative for COVID-19 in order to fly to the US.
While Abbott’s BinaxNOW tests can be found for less, those don’t include the telehealth testing required for it to be valid for entry into the US.
It’s worth noting that the tests can be used on people 4 years or older, though kids that are 2 or 3 also need to provide a negative COVID-19 test.
Abbott recommends bringing extra tests with you in case the first one comes back inconclusive.
I wouldn’t buy these unless you have travel plans in the near future, as the requirement to provide a COVID-19 test can be lifted at any time. The fact that it’s still required for people who are fully vaccinated is beyond absurd. But it certainly does seem like a great option to have for now.
Will you travel with self-tests when you travel abroad?