COVID Testing for Travel 101

COVID Testing for Travel 101

Hi all! I hope this beautiful Tuesday finds you well! I know there has been a lot of COVID related info on the site lately, but we have recently received a ton of messages in regards to testing. So, I hope to get all of the information to you here so we can get back to some more fun things tomorrow 🙂

Testing is not ONLY required for arrival anymore. The State of New York is now requiring it for incoming flights and we may see more of that with stateside airports as the number of cases continues to rise. So, in getting out ahead of that…Here’s everything you need to know about COVID testing. For both arriving AND departing guests.

First, the arrivals. We have posted update after update on the testing requirements needed to arrive on island. This is a breakdown of what you need to do BEFORE arriving on St. Thomas.

  • Get a COVID test: The test needs to be administered within five days of travel to the USVI. This means, if you are arriving on a Friday, you need to test and get your results between Sunday and Thursday. ALL members of your party, age FIVE and older, must be in receipt of a test and negative results.  You may also present a postive antibody test that is dated within four months of arrival in the territory.
  • Go to the USVI Travel Portal and fill out the required information: This form will ask for your flight information, accommodations, contact info, etc. for each person in your party. It will also ask a series of screening questions. When you are finished, you will receive a “travel certification.” In order to enter the territory, EACH PERSON IN YOUR PARTY ages five and up will have to show this certification along with their negative test results.

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  • If you do not receive your test results until the day before you fly, do not use the website for certification. Use this form instead and bring it with you along with your test results. So, if you’re within 24-hours of arrival, use the form, not the website. You may also use this printed form if you receive your results on the day that you travel.

Many people have asked if they can opt to quarantine instead of testing. Technically, yes. But, for the sake of the USVI community and your fellow travelers, the answer is no. Even if you have the best intentions about going straight to your villa or accommodations it is next to impossible to make zero contact with another human being en route.

For starters, you have already been on the plane with other arriving guests, through the airport, the bathrooms and/or baggage claim perhaps. Then, do you take a taxi? Even a private cab will put the driver and his or her family at possible risk. Then you either have to take a private boat with a captain, the ferry (DEFINITELY not quarantining) or the car barge. If you have rented a car on St. Thomas, you still need to interact with someone at the rental car counter, etc. etc. etc.

Additionally, the beach is not quarantining. Neither is the grocery store. To do this properly and safely, you would need to remain in your accommodations for 14 days. No one wants to do that. So, just take a test.

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Full COVID Travel Advisory from usviupdate.com

I received a call from a dear friend of mine who I have gotten to know over their years of vacationing on St. John. They are bringing their family down this month and she had some legitimate concerns about the testing ages and the fact that they couldn’t find a site that would test her young granddaughter. I was able to give her some first-hand info on finding a testing site in the states because I have, unfortunately, had get tested myself several times (All with negative results!). Currently, I am at my parents’ in the states and had to do some serious juggling in order to get myself a test to go home.

Generally speaking, with the national spike in cases, A LOT of places will not test you without symptoms or a physician’s referral. If you plug “COVID testing near me” into Google maps, the list autopopulates with a check list of requirements for getting tested.

Additionally, depending on your location, don’t tell the testing site that you need it for travel. If you’re in a rural area with limited testing, that may not get you the “results” you need.

Here are some additional words of advice on testing locations:

Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens offer drive-thru testing at locations nationwide. If you don’t have insurance the testing is covered under the CARES Act. They say 3-5 days for results, but most are returned closer to the three-day marker. They issue your results online so it’s easy to upload the results to the travel app.

Urgent Cares are your best friend! If you have an urgent or stat care type clinic in your area, I would recommend those as most efficient. Many across the country have drive-up testing options and deliver results much more quickly than their disclaimer says. The majority of them will take you without a physician’s referral.

If you can get a physician’s referral for a test, that is the absolute best way to go. Most hospitals that do their lab testing on site will accept a referral from your primary care physician in exchange for a test. If you can find a site that does their lab work in-house, the results will be quicker than most other options.

It might take you some time to call around in order to find the testing site that’s closest and works best for your whole party. The Department of Health and Human Services has a national database online if you need a starting point for making phone calls. But, trust me, no matter where you are, it’s possible and once you get the appointment set up the process is easy peasy.

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HHS.gov provides a complete list of providers nationwide offering COVID-19 testing under the CARES Act

Alright, now, you’re on St. John, enjoying your vacation and you need a test to get back into your home airport. New York is the only state that has mandated this currently, but I would imagine that others will follow suit. The pandemic for the US started in New York and its only safe to assume that they are a few steps ahead of the rest of the country in regulations and attempts to control the spread of it.

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Fortunately, in the USVI, the concept of tests for travel is a bit more widely understood than it is in other areas of the country. So, there are less restrictions to juggle around in order to get a test to do so.

Here is a complete list of testing sites on St. Thomas and St. John along with the type of tests they run and the length of time to expect for results:

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Red Hook Family Practice will gladly test for travel with a same day turnaround on results. The tests are around $200 by appointment only. Call ahead to schedule.

The Department of Health is doing pop-up testing on St. John once a week and anyone can be tested. The tests here are free and the DOH releases a new schedule bi-weekly. Test results have been averaging around 48 hours on delivery. They are not taking appointments but they ask that you please call ahead (386-319-2025) so that they can assess the volume of tests needed for the pop-ups.

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As always, if you are experiencing symptoms while on island, please retreat to your accommodations and call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 340-776-1519.

Hopefully, with talk of a vaccination on the horizon, these protocols and hoops to jump through won’t have to be a thing for much longer. But, on the plus side, the USVI is open and cases seem to be hovering in very low numbers across the territory based on the protocols our government has put into place. We understand that in some states, these restrictions may look differently or they may not exist at all. We do ask that, along with the residents, our visitors abide by the regulations that our government has put into place in order to protect the community and our guests. We do so hope to see many of you this winter on island! The only things you need to do are:

  1. Get a test
  2. Wear a mask
  3. And have an AMAZING vacation!

11 thoughts on “COVID Testing for Travel 101”

  1. Hello, Thank you for this information my group will be coming to St John for 2 weeks end of January. My question is we are traveling from New York, I understand to get a test few days before we leave New York. But departing St. John to fly home to New York we also need a test?
    I thought the new law was if flying home from to New York you need to get a covid test on day 4 of coming home . I maybe wrong. If so please advise for our group . Do we need to get covid test on St John before going home to NY? Thank you Kerri

  2. Hillary, the portal says it is still accepting positive anti body test, and that was updated 10/25. but I thought it had to be a negative test, per your article. any idea?

  3. Thanks for the great information! In your description you say that if you are arriving on a Friday, you need to test and get your results between Monday and Thursday. Based on the diagram, though, it looks like you could get tested on Sunday (Day 1) and receive the result on Thursday (Day 5) and then travel on Friday. Am I reading the diagram right? Of course that assumes that you could actually get a test on a Sunday.

    The reason I ask is that tests in our area say results come back in 3 to 5 business days. I’m concerned that my test won’t be back before I travel. I’m trying to figure out how long I actually have.

  4. Just a question – we are coming to our home in Coral Bay and will be staying for a couple of months. We depart from the West Coast on Dec. 28 and arrive in STJ on Dec. 29. Because of the Christmas holidays (we would have to get tested on Christmas Eve) I doubt we will be able to get a test in the 5 day timeline or receive the results so can we arrive and get a test on arrival and quarantine until the results are received? If so what are the requirements to get from STT to STJ? Can we ride the ferry or do we have to arrange for private transportation? Once we get to STJ we have our own vehicle.

  5. Thank you for the info Jenn! No one on St. John is doing asymptomatic testing to return to the US unless you get lucky with a pop up site that coincides with when you need testing done. We utilized red hook family practice on St Thomas. Ferry over and get test! We are doing ours on Monday. Massachusetts requires us to get one within 72 hours of returning to MA. We leave Wednesday. 100 bucks per test is reasonable. Thank you for the info!!

  6. This is such a service to those who vacation on our beloved St. John. We won’t be there until the third week of March and know things may change by then, but you have spelled it out so well as to what’s necessary for travel now. Thank you!

  7. Many thanks to whomever is making this forum available! I am traveling back to Coral Bay in January after a 4 year hiatus and the information provided here is invaluable.

  8. We our here on St John and the airport was in strict form, as soon as you deplane they are outside in full on PpE gear requesting the below.You must FIRST have the approval emailed from the USVI travel commission and a copy of the results that you submitted to the commission. The hotel asked us to see a copy when we check in as well. If you arrive with out be prepared to feel like a diseased criminal in the hot sun

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