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FYI: U.S. testing requirement is 3 days (not 72 hours) before travel

February 22, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requires that international airline passengers flying to the United States show proof of a negative Covid-19 test before boarding their flight.

The policy, which took effect January 26, mandates that all air passengers —  including U.S. citizens and permanent residents — get tested for the coronavirus “no more than three days” before their flight.

The CDC has since clarified what it means by its three-day policy. Their explanation makes the requirement more straightforward for travelers:

Why does the Order specify 3 days rather than 72 hours? What is considered 3 days?

The 3-day period is the 3 days before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 3-day timeframe instead of 72 hours to provide more flexibility to the traveler. By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test was administered.

For example, if a passenger’s flight is at 1pm on a Friday, the passenger could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Tuesday or after.

Passengers must be tested with a viral test that could be either an antigen test or a PCR test. Rapid tests are acceptable, as are some home specimen collection kits. Read the CDC’s full FAQ here. 

Where to get tested in Costa Rica

Some 130 labs in Costa Rica offer PCR and/or antigen coronavirus testing for tourists.

Click here to see a full list, created by the Tourism BoardLabs highlighted in orange offer antigen tests.

PCR tests typically cost $100 or less in the San José area, and up to $150 in outlying areas. Antigen tests are typically about $50. However, labs are free to set their own prices.

As part of their inclusion on this list, these labs promise PCR results within 48 hours. Antigen tests usually guarantee same-day results.

Not all countries accept antigen tests for entry.

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