The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that starting on January 5, 2023, at 12:01 AM, all travelers two years and older boarding flights to the US from China, Hong Kong and Macau are required to present a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 if they have been in China, Hong Kong or Macau within 10 days prior to departure for the United States. This new requirement is part of the CDC’s efforts to help control the spread of the virus given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in China. Let us take a closer look at what this means for travelers from China.
What are the COVID testing requirements?
Starting on January 5, 2023, all travelers 2 years and older who are travelling from China, Hong Kong and Macau are required to take a COVID-19 test such as a PCR or an antigen self-test if they have been in China, Hong Kong or Macau within 10 days prior to departure for the United States. Travelers must take the test within 2 days (48 hours) before their departure from China, Hong Kong and Macau and show a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline upon departure for the United States. The test must be administered by a telehealth service or a licensed provider and authorized by the Food and Drug Administration or the relevant national authority. For a list of authorized tests, check here.
Passengers who tested positive more than 10 days before the flight can provide documentation of recovery instead of a negative result.
Who is required to have a negative COVID test?
All persons 2 years and older regardless of citizenship and vaccination status who are travelling by air from China, Hong Kong and Macau to the United States are required to comply with the new COVID testing requirement if they have been in China, Hong Kong or Macau within 10 days prior to departure for the United States.
The requirement also applies to persons traveling from China, Hong Kong or Macau via third country transit and to passengers connecting through the United States onward to further destinations if they have been in China, Hong Kong or Macau within 10 days prior to departure for the United States.
In addition to applying to direct flights from China, Hong Kong and Macau, travelers stopping through Incheon International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport on their way to the United States are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test if they have been in China, Hong Kong or Macau in the last 10 days, no more than two days before their departure to the United States.
If you are uncertain whether this requirement applies to you and you have recently traveled to China, Hong Kong or Macau, you are encouraged to take a COVID-19 viral test within two days of boarding a flight to the United States.
Are US citizens required to have a negative COVID test?
Yes, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR or green card holders) 2 years and older travelling to the United States by air from China, Hong-Kong or Macau are required to provide proof of negative COVID test taken within 2 days prior to boarding the flight or documentation of recovery for those passengers who tested positive for COVID more than 10 days prior to their flight.
What If I Do Not Have a Negative Test Result?
Passengers must show one of the following to the airline or risk being denied boarding:
- A paper or digital copy of negative COVID-19 viral test results taken within 2 days of boarding; or
- Documentation of recovery for passengers who tested positive more than 10 days and fewer than 90 days before boarding a flight to the United States.
If travelers do not have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 for flights to the U.S. originating from China, Hong Kong or Macau, even when travelling through a third country or transiting the United States, the airlines will deny boarding. An exception to these COVID testing requirements may be granted only in very limited circumstances. Contact CDC for criteria on exceptions.
To avoid the risk of being denied boarding, it is important for passengers to make sure they have proof of recovery from COVID-19 or have taken an approved test and obtained proof of their negative results before attempting to board any flights to the U.S. departing from China, Hong Kong or Macau.
How Does this Affect Travelers from China?
For travelers coming from China, Hong Kong or Macau on flight to the U.S., this new requirement requires planning and preparation. All travelers should make sure they understand what documents are required prior to travel and make sure they have access to testing facilities near their point of departure before leaving for their destination.
Travelers to the U.S. boarding flights from China, Hong Kong or Macau should take the following actions:
- Consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information on pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirements.
- Check with your airline or travel operators regarding testing requirements including language requirements for test results or doctor’s notes, and for any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions, including potential COVID-19 vaccine or testing requirements for countries you are transiting through.
- Be aware that foreign countries might have their own travel restrictions and COVID-19 testing, vaccine, or quarantine requirements. Please visit the Embassy/Consulate webpages for each country you are traveling to or transiting through for additional information.
- Visit the COVID-19 crisis page for country-specific information related to COVID-19.
- For information on what you can do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19, please see the CDC’s latest recommendations.
- Visit the U.S. Embassy Beijing webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in The People’s Republic of China. Visit the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau’s webpage on Covid-19 for information on Hong Kong and Macau.
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