Published October 28, 2021 by Ichor Blood Services
COVID Testing For US Travel

The COVID-19 situation in North America can be best described as constantly fluctuating. As new cases rise and fall, so do travel policies change. Moreover, Canada and the US do not have the same COVID-19 testing regulations, making travel between the two countries potentially confusing. 

If you are planning to visit our neighbours down south, read on to learn all you need to know about COVID-19 travel testing between these two countries. Whether you are flying or planning to travel by car or ferry is an important distinction to make too, as the rules are not the same.

Regardless of your method of travel, one constant remains: you will need to show proof of a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to your re-entry into Canada. This is less of a hindrance than you may think, as Ichor Blood Services can help you meet all testing requirements both ways. On your way to the US, simply drop by one of our clinics in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Vaughan, ON, and Fredericton, NB, for a rapid PCR or antigen test. On your way back, use our virtual testing to get your results within 48 hours on US soil一allowing you to come back home in full confidence. 

Flying To The US And COVID-19 Testing

While travelling to the US for recreational purposes is now permitted, COVID-19 testing rules remain as stringent as ever. Regardless of your vaccination status, you must show proof of either a negative PCR or antigen test 72 hours prior to boarding. We recommend that you take an antigen test, as it is generally less expensive than a PCR test and returns your result in less than 30 minutes. On the other hand, we advise against taking a PCR test from a public facility. Though free, these tests often take more than 72 hours to get back to you, making them useless for travelling. 

If you have recovered from COVID-19, you can present a proof of recovery no older than 90 days from your boarding date. If you do not have a proof of recovery certificate, consider taking an antibody test as soon as you can. 

Note, however, that the US plans to make vaccination mandatory for international flight passengers starting on November 8, 2021. If you are still unvaccinated by then, you will be unable to fly to the US. 

Flying Back To Canada And COVID-19 Testing 

Inbound flights to Canada have one difference compared to outbound flights to the US in terms of COVID-19 testing: negative antigen tests are not accepted. Indeed, Canada only accepts negative PCR tests taken 72 priors to verification. As always, this goes for all travellers, vaccinated or not. However, if you are a Canadian citizen who has recovered from COVID-19, you can present a proof of recovery no older than 90 days to be eligible for re-entry. 

Assuming you need to get a PCR test to return to Canada, you have generally two choices. First, you can get a reasonably rapid PCR test from a private US clinic. Your result will usually arrive within 72 hours, allowing you to board your flight in time. Depending on your location in the US, you can expect to pay somewhere between $100 to $200 for this test. 

Second, you can bring a virtual PCR testing kit with you to the US and use it 72 hours prior to your flight back. A virtual testing kit allows you to connect with a nurse remotely, who will walk you through the self-testing process. Partnered US courier services will then collect your test and deliver it to a lab for analysis. Your result will be sent to you via email in less than 72 hours. Virtual testing kits can be an excellent alternative way to get tested if you do not want to visit a private US clinic. 

Lastly, it is worth noting that Canadian citizens do not need to be vaccinated to return to Canada. Unvaccinated Canadians will have to go through a mandatory 14-day quarantine with periodical COVID-19 testings, however. 

Land And Marine Travel And COVID-19 Testing 

While not set in stone, both Canada and the US have agreed to reopen their land border sometime in November 2021. This means you can now travel between the two countries for leisure via car or ferry. 

Here is what you need to know if you plan to drive or take a boat to the US and come back the same way:

  • Only fully vaccinated travellers can travel between Canada and the US by land or ferry 
  • Travellers entering the US by land or ferry do not need proof of a negative test as long as they are fully vaccinated 
  • Travellers returning to Canada by land or ferry will need proof of a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to entry even if they are fully vaccinated 

In other words, while you may not need to be tested to enter the US, you will still need to get a PCR test from a private US clinic or be tested virtually before returning to Canada. 

Your US Travel Itinerary In The COVID-19 Era 

Here are the main points you need to remember if you are thinking of travelling to the US by flight:

  • Get vaccinated; while you can still fly to the US unvaccinated for now, you will need proof of vaccination starting November 8, 2021. 
  • Take an antigen test 72 hours before your US flight. An antigen is preferable to a PCR test because it is less expensive and quicker. 
  • Take a PCR test 72 hours before your flight back, as Canada does not accept antigen tests. The best way to get a PCR test in the US is to contact a private clinic or bring a virtual testing kit with you in advance. 

The same recommendations apply if you want to travel by land or ferry once the Canada-US border reopens sometime in November. 

Are you excited to travel to the US after two years of travel restrictions and quarantine mandates? You should be, because Ichor Blood Services can make fulfilling the COVID-19 testing requirements so much easier. Our clinics in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Vaughan, ON, or Fredericton, NB, offer both rapid PCR and antigen tests specifically designed to beat the 72 hour travel window. We also offer virtual PCR testing options in partnership with US couriers so that you can return to Canada without having to walk into a US clinic.  Call us at 1-844-424-6728 or fill out the online contact form to see how our COVID-19 tests can accommodate your travel plans. 


Q: How much are antigen tests at an Ichor Blood Services lab?
A: Our 15-minute return antigen tests are $75. 

Q: How much are PCR tests at an Ichor Blood Services lab?
A: Our 72-hour return PCR tests are $150. 

Q: How much are virtual test kits from Ichor Blood Services?
A: Our 1-person test kit is $249 and our 2-people test kit is $399. 


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