Throughout the pandemic, COVID-19 testing requirements have come and gone in the vast majority of countries around the world, with “gone” being by far the most common outcome as we move into the summer of 2022.
The United States has been one of the last countries to hold out on pre-arrival testing, despite pressure from tourism boards, airlines, and travellers themselves to drop the requirement.
Well, good things come to those who wait, and the United States will finally be dropping their pre-arrival testing requirement beginning midnight this Sunday, June 12, 2022.
US Will No Longer Require Pre-Arrival Tests
The White House has confirmed that COVID-19 testing to enter the United States will end imminently. As of midnight on June 12, 2022, all travellers will no longer need a COVID-19 test to enter the United States.
Since January 2021, an antigen test had been required to enter the US, with timelines changing as the pandemic progressed. Back then, travellers were required to complete a rapid antigen test within three days of their departing flight, and that was eventually tightened to one day as COVID-19 variants began to emerge.
Somewhat ironically, the US testing requirements had been viewed enviously by Canadians for the better part of a year, as the Canadian government had required a more cumbersome molecular COVID-19 test taken within a 72-hour timeframe of the final direct flight to Canada.
The tables turned when Canada dropped all COVID-19 testing requirements back on April 1, 2022, and soon, the US was instead viewed as the outlier for continuing to maintain their test-and-enter scheme.
With this recent change, the United States will go back to having equal, if not looser, entry requirements than Canada.
Canadians are still required to fill out the ArriveCAN form prior to entering the country. Meanwhile, as of June 12, the US will only require a pre-departure attestation form, which is something that many airlines let you complete by simply ticking off a checkbox during the online check-in process.
The End of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions?
Of course, the widespread phasing-out of travel restrictions does not mean that the COVID-19 pandemic has come to an end.
Instead, it signals a shift from the United States and the vast majority of countries around the globe to treat COVID-19 as endemic and to learn to live with it, rather than continuing to implement questionable travel restrictions.
At this point, the world has largely fully opened up again, and it’s really only a handful of countries in East Asia that remain closed to entry, while another handful continue to require pre-departure molecular or antigen tests.
The United States removing its pre-arrival testing requirement is especially significant to Canadians, who represent by far the vast majority of travellers visiting our neighbours in the south.
I’ve visited and transited through the US a couple times in the past few months, and the requirement to complete an antigen test within one day of departure was always a thorn in my side, both in terms of the hassle of booking and showing up to testing appointments and the extra sum of money to spend.
With a few more journeys through the US scheduled for the rest of the summer, I’m delighted that the testing requirement will be dropped as of this Sunday, and it’ll be one less thing to worry about as we embark on renewed adventures once again.
Summer 2022 undoubtedly marks the true return of travel in all its glory, and the United States’ pre-arrival testing requirements represents one of the last dominoes to fall here in North America.
Beginning midnight on June 12, 2022, the US will no longer require a rapid antigen test before arrival for those arriving by air, aligning their travel policy with the majority of domestic health policies that recognize COVID-19 as endemic.