Your Travel Testing Questions Answered

Your Travel Testing Questions Answered

Hello All!  I understand that MANY of you with upcoming arrival dates in Love City have questions in regards to yesterday’s COVID-19 update. So, just to be certain of all of the answers, I called the Department of Tourism this morning to get some clarification on the testing protocols as they stand AS OF January 3, 2022.

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Please see below for a list of Q&A’s.  The questions were submitted by readers and the answers supplied by the Department of Tourism.

  •  What if you just had COVID and have been cleared from quarantine but are still testing positive?
    • First, I want to say that we had a similar scare when we got COVID in the states, prior to traveling back to get Asante in Grenada.  We both tested negative within a few days of being cleared from quarantine.  So, first, I’d advise taking an at home test to see if you are, in fact still testing positive.  If you are still testing positive, not to worry!  You will need a copy of your original positive test results and a note from a physician stating that you have been cleared from quarantine.  Take a photo of those two pieces of paper as one file and upload that to the portal as soon as you are able to to so.  That will get you a green QR code to be cleared to travel
  • I am traveling ON January 3, do we need to reschedule our tests?
    • The unfortunate answer is, yes.  The new testing protocol goes into effect ON Monday, January 3, 2022.  Please see below for some tips and pointers on how to expedite the process.
  • Is the test to be done within 72 hours of departure or arrival date?
    • I have to admit, I had to ask this question a few times because I had been under the assumption that the 72 hours, much like the five day testing window, was to be done within 72 hours of DEPARTURE.  However, the young lady at the Department of Tourism this morning told me a number of times that the 72 hour window is to be inside of the ARRIVAL time.  So, if you are arriving on a Monday, the test needs to be done late in the day on Friday.  Not to worry…I have some answers to that in the following responses!
  • What if I am arriving on a Monday and am worried about getting my test results over a weekend?
    • I totally get that.  I have been in the same boat before.  And you might need to take a bit of a drive to get this done.  But, Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid have all turned my test results around within a 24 to 48 hour window, most of which were over a weekend because I tend to fly on Tuesdays.  If you have not utilized these testing services before, just go to one of their websites:  Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid.  Once you go into the site, it will prompt you to choose a store.  Your “closest to home” store may not have testing times available, but if you widen your net, you should be able to find a rapid testing site.  When I was in Portland for Thanksgiving, I had to drive 45 minutes one way to get a rapid test at a Walgreens within the five day window.  It was a holiday weekend and I still received my results in 36 hours.  You may need to search a nearby area.  For example, I couldn’t find much availability in New York City or Atlanta Georgia this morning, but Lexington, KY had plenty of options!  I’m not saying you will need to drive from Atlanta to Lexington 🙂  But, you get where I’m going with this, right?
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Walgreens testing query for the Lexington, KY area this morning.

This brings me to our next question….

  • What kind of test results are accepted in exchange for the coveted Green QR Code?
    • The young lady on the phone with me this morning assured me that the ONLY type of tests they will not accept are the at home tests.  So, no to the reader who asked about BiNax Now 🙁  However, I have seen a lot of folks saying that their CVS and Walgreens tests were denied.  The woman at Department of Tourism told me that they DO accept Walgreens, CVS, etc., but you have to upload the full PDF to the portal that has the name and address of the lab on it.  So, a screen shot of an email or something similar will not work.  You need to go into the portal that your testing provider supplies and download the full test results sheet.  And make sure the name and address of the LAB is on the sheet you submit.
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Make sure to submit the full diagnostic report and not just a screen shot of negative results.
  • What if I don’t receive my test results until I am on my way to the airport!?!
      • The Department of Tourism has a system in place!  Upload your test results AS SOON AS you receive them.  If it is the day before your flight, they prioritize all next day arrivals and will process your request by midnight before your departure.  If you receive your negative results the day of travel, don’t freak out!  Simply upload them immediately and call the Department of Tourism at 1-800-372-8784 during their business hours (M-F 8AM-5PM AST or 7AM-4PM EST).  Have your email with the Tracking ID that you should receive immediately after submitting to the portal.  Give them the tracking ID and explain the situation and they should be able to expedite your green light (QR Code)!  Additionally, in case of any bumps in the road, have your test results and all other paperwork printed out and on hand, even if you DO have the QR code.  That way, if the airlines DO in fact ask you for anything at the gate prior to boarding, you will have everything you need to proceed to paradise!
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FYI- I looked at the dates on my last submission to the travel portal and I received both the submission and approval emails on the same day.
  • I am coming from an international destination.  What does this new testing protocol mean for me?
    • Absolutely nothing.  If you are arriving in the USVI by sea or by air from a foreign destination, you still must follow the CDC guidelines for international travel.  Meaning, you must provide a test taken within 24 hours of travel:

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I want to include a few other tips here that might be helpful.   I am sorry to all of you who need to rearrange your testing schedule in order to make this work.  I understand the hectic nature of getting ready for a trip only to find that you need to adjust to a new schedule.  It is frustrating, I’ll admit, but this is where we are and I hope that this post is helpful in expediting your testing process!

First, many of the major airports around the states offer on site rapid tests.  These tests are NOT free, but I know many who have used them for travel with no issue.  The downside to this is the cost AND the fact that you will likely need to reserve a few extra hours of airport time.  Additionally, if anyone in your party is feeling ill or has been out and about will likely lead to a bit of extra post flight anxiety.  I would advise doing an at home test to confirm negative results prior to heading to the airport and paying between $100 to $300 to get the same and be unable to board your flight.  The upside is that you will know you are scheduled for a test that will provide immediate results.  And now you know how to expedite the travel portal 🙂  The following airports with non-stop flights to the USVI offer on site testing options.

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  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Chicago – O’Hare & Mid-Way
  • Boston Logan International
  • Minnesota-St. Paul
  • New Jersey/New York- Albany, Newark, JFK, LaGuardia
  • Philadelphia
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • For a more complete list of airports offering on-site testing, hours and how to register for an appointment, please take a look at this article from AFAR magazine or reference your airport of departure’s website.
  • Two airports of note not included in the article are Miami and Atlanta which both DO offer on site testing.

If you are flying on American Airlines, check here for their partner clinics that prioritize their passengers.

If you are arriving on a Delta flight, please take a look at their testing guidance as well.

I hope that you find this helpful.  We will get back to some of the fun happenings on island tomorrow morning, but I felt the need to get a timely and accurate response out to all of you who have questions about upcoming travel.  Thanks for bearing with me during the not so fun stuff 🙂  Here is a pretty picture from our sail the other day to leave you on a positive note!

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21 thoughts on “Your Travel Testing Questions Answered”

  1. Further clarification is needed on the home tests as I have seen that several visitors have taken the Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Home Test (which is approved for travel by the CDC and taken supervised through telehealth) with no problem of acceptance. Other home tests which are solely for home use and are not supervised through telehealth aren’t accepted.

  2. Again, very informative. The real risk depending on your local population is rescheduling Covid testing. I planned for the 3rd for an 8th arrival. When I tried to reschedule I had to travel and change locations.
    I am now scheduled for the 5th with one-day results. Phew. I hope the portal can handle the upload demand.

  3. I understand the self-testing at-home rapid tests not being accepted. But what about PROCTORED tests that you take at home in front of a health care professional via a Zoom link. I’m referring to tests such as Abbott’s BinaxNow Ag test? This is different from the BinaxNow test, as the Ag version is proctored. I have not been able to get a straight answer from the VI Department of Health, even thought they are accepted by the CDC for re-entry into the US from international travel. Can you confirm if those are accepted?

  4. 2 things…

    Binax Now home tests ARE accepted as long as you are using an online proctor through eMed. I have used them to get in and I also have an email from the department of tourism stating that they are allowed.

    Double check your information about international entry. It is 1 day by air but I believe it is now 3 days (changing from 5 days) by sea.

    Effective January 3, 2022, the window for taking COVID-19 tests for travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands will be 3 days prior to commencement of travel to the Territory.


  6. What about International travel from Canada by air with a stopover (change of plane) in Miami on the way to St.Thomas? What is the procedere here?

  7. Thank you so much for this posting. We have a trip to St. John in about three weeks and were trying to make sense of all of the requirements, especially because testing turnaround time is rumored to be long recently. It’s good to know USVI has measures to expedite things if necessary.

  8. what if my flight is delayed and I then get outside of the 72 hour time and I miss it my 72-hour arrival window?

  9. Hillary,
    Thank you SO MUCH for the heads-up on the new Covid updates. We fly out of PDX next week. We’d be out of the loop if it weren’t for You and News of St. John!!!
    Greatly Appreciated,
    Susan C.

  10. When you were told that at home tests are not accepted, does that include the telehealth at-home tests that are observed/proctored via video? FWIW the US accepts those types of tests when returning from a foreign destination.

  11. Great information, as always. Regarding the 72 hours being from takeoff or landing, I believe the woman you spoke with was incorrect. The USVI portal states 3 days prior to commencement of travel. It is mentioned on the alert on their website.

  12. I have been vaccinated in the USVI (not that it matters now) and am traveling from Hawaii to San Juan. 2 nights on San Juan and then flying to STT for a few nights on STJ. I’m leaving Hawaii on Wednesday night arrive SJU Thursday after and am leaving on cape Air Saturday morning to STT. Has anyone had any experience with covid testing in San Juan?

  13. Looks like the last minute change will force us to cancel a $15k sailing vacation – we’re scheduled to depart 1/6 via ORF (no onsite testing). We had booked our PCR tests for 1/2 to make sure we got the results back in time, and now that’s 1 day too early to make the 3 day window – Would not be a problem but there are NO new testing appointments available until 1/7 anywhere remotely near.

  14. What proof would you need if you tested positive for covid using a HOME TEST in the past 30 days… then test positive again in a Doctors office for the travel requirement? Our doctor will do a medical consent to travel since we are fine but we do not have any report from the original positive home test except for the test strips. I cannot find an answer to this and getting thru to the State Dept. has not been successful. Some people still can test postive weeks after they are feeling good.

  15. Question about the doctor note. We are coming down on the 12th (can’t wait!) and might be in the position to need a note. Tested positive 6 days ago and will easily be out of the quarantine period as dictated by the CDC, however I don’t see anything on the USVI Travel Site about getting a doctor note if we still test positive on the 9th. Any more info on that?

  16. Has anyone gotten any more information on the COVID recovered who still test positive? Does a Doctors not plus the negative test results in fact work?

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