Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

How to Get a Quick Covid Test for Travel

by Brook Wilkinson | January 17, 2021

Many of us would like to ensure we’re coronavirus-free before we travel. After all, nobody wants to infect Grandma or unknowingly spreading the virus to another state—or, even worse, a remote island. Thankfully, it’s become much easier to get quick Covid test results, whether you are seeking a mail-in-option that eliminates having to visit a public-health clinic or testing site, or you require an in-person test on a short timeline.

While testing may not pick up a very recent infection, it’s a useful tool—especially if combined with a period of pre-trip self-isolation—for responsible travelers who aim to minimize our collective risk. Such pre-trip Covid tests are now required by a few U.S. states and many foreign countries. Typically, to enter the state or country, you need to be able to show negative results from a Covid test taken within anywhere from 48 hours to 7 days of your arrival.

Below are several of your best options for a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test with the last-minute results you need for many destinations: We’ve listed both in-person options in select U.S. cities, and mail-in test kits that you can do from home. (Note that some places will not accept results from mail-in tests.) If you’re looking for a test near you, do a search for quick Covid test—not “rapid,” as that is the term used for a non-PCR test—and your desired location. In my reporting, I’ve found that urgent-care centers are a good bet for quick Covid tests.

Whatever testing method you pursue, keep in mind that, while Congress has stipulated that Covid tests be free when “medically necessary,” insurance companies are interpreting that differently and may or may not cover pre-travel testing.

Jump to: In-Person Tests

Jump to: Mail-In Tests

In-Person Tests

Nationwide

  • Curative conducts saliva-based tests at pop-up sites across the country. There is no out-of-pocket cost, and results are available in 24-48 hours.
  • CVS has drive-through testing—as well as walk-up testing in some locations—and reports that the average turnaround time is 2-3 days. Tests are free for those who meet certain criteria related to symptoms and exposure, and $139 otherwise.
  • Rite Aid conducts drive-through tests in select states. Tests are free for most individuals, with turnaround time estimated at 1-3 days.
  • Walgreens offers drive-through tests at select locations with results in 1-2 days. There is no cost for most individuals.
  • Passport Health is offering tests at some of their clinics at a cost of $200, with results in 72 hours.

California

  • Good Life Medical Services has drive-through testing in Los Angeles that is free if you have insurance, or they will send a clinician to your home for $250. Results are typically returned in 3-4 business days; 48-hour turnaround is available for an additional $100-$250.
  • Reliant Urgent Care conducts tests at locations across Los Angeles county; the cost is $175 for same-day results.
  • OnSite Safe conducts drive-up testing in Van Nuys, using saliva samples. The cost is $164 for results in 1-3 days, or $188.75 for results by midnight the next business day.
  • US Specialty Labs does drive-through testing with documentation for travel in San Diego for $150, with results in under 24 hours.
  • McCampbell Analytical offers self-collected test kits, which you pick up and drop off at their lab about an hour outside San Francisco in Pittsburg. You can get results by 7:00 p.m. the next day for $180, or by 7:00 p.m. the same day for $250.
  • IGeneX offers testing in Milpitas, next door to San Jose; their staff will assist as you collect your own sample using a nasal swab. It is $250 for results in 24 hours, and $400 for same-day results.
  • CityHealth conducts tests in Oakland, Sacramento, and San Francisco, with costs billed to your insurance and results typically in 24-48 hours.
  • Med2u Inc. does home/office visits in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The cost is $200, plus a $100-$200 travel fee; results are available by 8 p.m. the next business day.

Florida

  • Covid Testing LLC does testing at several locations in the Orlando region and The Villages. Testing is free with insurance, plus a $35 charge for next-day results or $75 for same-day results.
  • ARCpoint Labs offers tests in Ft. Lauderdale; the cost is $199 for results in 24 hours, $249 for results in 6 hours, and $399 for results in 2 hours.
  • LAB Doctor offers tests in Ft. Lauderdale for $179, with results the next day.
  • BayCare is conducting tests at the Tampa airport for $150, with results typically returned in 48 hours.
  • OnSite Safe conducts drive-up testing in Tampa, using saliva samples. The cost is $164 for results in 1-3 days, or $188.75 for results by midnight the next business day.
  • Med2u Inc. conducts tests at their Hollywood office, and will do home or office visits in the surrounding region. The cost is $200, plus a $100 travel fee for trips of up to 50 miles and $200 for each additional 50 miles; results are available by late evening of the next business day.
  • Physician Partners of America will come to clients in the Tampa and Orlando areas to conduct a test for $300, with results in 24 hours.
  • OpenClear is a concierge service that brings a clinician to your home or office in the Miami area for Covid testing. Costs range from $499 for results in 48-72 hours to $899 for results in 12-24 hours.

Georgia

  • Viral Solutions offers drive-up testing in several locations around Atlanta at no cost. Results are typically available in 2-3 days.

Illinois

  • Prime Care Physicians offers drive-up tests at their clinic in Schaumburg with same-day or next-day results; they accept most insurance or charge $125 out of pocket. They also do in-home or in-office tests for a $100-$150 fee.

Maryland

  • Brookville Pharmacy conducts tests in Chevy Chase; the cost is $200 for results in 48 hours, or $250 for results in 24 hours.

Massachusetts

  • Tufts Medical Center conducts tests in Boston, with results in 48-72 hours. If your insurance does not cover the test, the cost is $135.

Missouri

  • ARCPoint Labs offers tests in St. Louis; the cost is $225 for same-day results.

Nevada

  • Phamatech, Inc. conducts shallow-nasal-swab tests in Las Vegas. The cost is $120 for results in 24-48 hours.

New Jersey

New York

  • CareCube offers tests at their locations in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Long Island City. The cost is $200 without insurance, with results in 24-48 hours.
  • The Medical Offices of Manhattan performs tests at their three locations in Manhattan, with same-day results. The office visit costs $199 (your insurance may cover this), and the test costs $225.
  • OnSite Safe conducts drive-up testing in Manhattan, using saliva samples. The cost is $184 for results in 1-3 days, or $208.75 for results by midnight the next business day.
  • The New York Center for Travel and Tropical Medicine offers tests with same-day results in Manhattan; the test costs $395, an official certificate for travel an additional $35.
  • Urgent Care of New York performs drive-up tests at its four locations in Westchester and Rockland counties for $75 (they accept most insurance for the cost of the visit), with results in about 20 minutes.
  • Med2u Inc. does home/office visits in New York City. The cost is $200, plus a $100-$200 travel fee; results are available by 8 p.m. the next business day.
  • OpenClear is a concierge service that brings a clinician to your home or office in the New York area (including Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) for Covid testing. Costs range from $499 for results in 48-72 hours to $899 for results in 12-24 hours.

Pennsylvania

  • AFC Urgent Care Center conducts tests in South Philadelphia; they bill insurance and usually return results in 1-3 days.
  • Frontage Lab does testing at its Exton facility. The cost is $200 for same-day results.

Oregon

  • AFC Urgent Care Center offers tests at their 5 locations in the Portland area. The cost is $199 for results in 15-60 minutes.

Tennessee

  • At their two locations in Nashville, Complete Health Partners offers a package that includes a medical exam and a Covid test for $250, with results in 30-45 minutes.

Texas

  • DevLab bio conducts tests at their lab near Dallas-Fort Worth. The cost is $150 for results in 24-36 hours, or $250 for same-day results for tests done prior to 2:00 p.m.
  • Covid Drive Up has drive-through testing at their San Antonio location for $179, with results in 2-3 days; the Austin location offers same-day results for $300.

Virginia

  • McLean Pharmacy conducts tests; the cost is $200 for results in 48 hours, or $250 for results in 24 hours.

Washington

  • The City of Seattle offers free tests with results in 48-72 hours.
  • Discovery Health MD conducts test at the Seattle Airport and at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton nearby. The cost is $250, with next-day results.

Washington, D.C.

Mail-In Tests

Azova via Costco

  • The price: $118.99
  • The promise: Results are expected 12-48 hours after the lab receives your sample.
  • The process: Kits are available only for purchase online by Costco members. Once you receive your kit, you can schedule a video observation to collect your sample. Return it via the prepaid next-day air shipping materials.
  • Get more info on Azova.

Carbon Health

  • The price: $185
  • The promise: Results are expected within 72 hours of shipping your sample to the lab.
  • The process: Order online and your testing kit will be shipped to you via FedEx overnight delivery. Collect your saliva sample and return it in the overnight packaging provided.
  • Get more info on Carbon Health.

The COVID Consultants

  • The price: $219 (+$25 if you need a Saturday delivery label)
  • The promise: Results are guaranteed within 24 hours of your sample arriving at the lab.
  • The process: Fill out their form and The COVID Consultants will immediately send you a kit (you can choose between a sputum test or nasal swab) and an invoice. Collect your sample and send it to their lab via the included packaging for overnight shipping.
  • Get more info on The COVID Consultants.

empowerDX

  • The price: free with insurance, or $99
  • The promise: Results are normally available with 48 business hours of the lab receiving your sample. You must be 18 or older to use this test.
  • The process: Order a kit online and you will receive it within 2 business days. Collect your sample with the shallow nasal swab, then return it via the enclosed FedEx next-day packaging.
  • Get more info on empowerDX.

Everlywell

  • The price: $109
  • The promise: Results are reported within 24 to 72 hours of the lab receiving your sample. The stated time of your sample collection may default to midnight. You must be 18 or older to use the test.
  • The process: Order a kit online and it will arrive within 2-10 business days, depending on the shipping method you choose. (The order form requires that you report potential exposure in order to qualify for a test; Everlywell has confirmed to us that any time spent in public qualifies as exposure.) Once the kit arrives, insert a swab about one inch into each nostril, then return your sample to the lab via the prepaid UPS next-day service label.
  • Get more info on Everlywell.

ImmunitiRx

  • The price: $225, with a 10% discount on orders of 4 or more kits (+$15 if you need a Saturday delivery label)
  • The promise: Results are typically reported 24 to 36 hours after their lab receives your sample.
  • The process: Order a kit online and ImmunitiRx will send it out via FedEx two-day shipping. Spit three to four times into the supplied cup, then deliver it to a FedEx DropBox for overnight shipping to the lab (box and shipping label provided).
  • Get more info on ImmunitiRx.

OnSite Safe

  • The price: $127.95
  • The promise: You’ll get your results within 48 hours of the lab receiving your sample. Results are available by midnight the day after the lab receives your sample for an additional $24.75. Test kits can not be shipped to Alaska, Hawaii, or New York City.
  • The process: Order your kit online, then spit 3-5 times into the cup and return it via the included FedEx Overnight shipping label.
  • Get more info on OnSite Safe.

Quest Diagnostics

  • The price: $138.30
  • The promise: Results are typically available 24 to 48 hours after your sample arrives at the lab. You must be 18 or older to use this test.
  • The process: Quest’s kit includes materials to collect an upper respiratory nasal sample and a prepaid overnight Fedex shipping label. (Quest also offers drive-through testing at a number of Walmart locations across the country for $128.30.)
  • Get more info on QuestDiagnostics.

Med2u Inc.

  • The price: $200, plus $39 shipping fee per order (+$10 if you need a Saturday delivery label)
  • The promise: Results are available 12-14 hours after the lab receives your sample.
  • The process: Order either a nasal-swab or sputum testing kit and collect your sample. Return it to the lab via the prepaid overnight shipping label.
  • Get more info on Med2u Inc.

VaultHealth

  • The price: $119
  • The promise: Results are typically returned 48-72 hours after your sample arrives at their lab. The provided documentation lists the date of the sample collection, but not the time.
  • The process: Receive your testing kit in the mail, then do a Zoom video call with a test supervisor, who will guide you through the process of saliva collection. The kit includes prepaid materials for overnight shipping.
  • Get  more info on VaultHealth.

 

We’re here to help

If you’re thinking about a trip to a state or country that requires pre-travel testing—but haven’t yet planned your trip—write to Ask Wendy. We know which trip-planning specialists have up-to-the-minute testing intel for your destination and can ensure that your entire trip is safe, smart, and extraordinary. Check out Real Trips Right Now to see the difference that this makes. We are not able to help travelers meet specific testing requirements unless they have booked their trip through one of the WOW List experts we recommend.

 

Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.

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19 Comments

  1. Kerry Semrau

    My family and some friends are traveling to Belize on Dec 5 (leave Sacramento on Dec 4, thru Atlanta landing in Belize on Dec5). and traveling with a 6yo, 9yo and 14yo. Where can we get the PCR testing for children, under 18. Also are the at home saliva kits okay for travel to Belize, it worries me due to lack of chain of custody reasons and them not accepting them and when do those tests times start counting towards the 72 hours?

    1. Brook Wilkinson Post author

      Hi Kerry,
      We’ve noted above which mail-in kits are not available to children. When you send in your sample, you note the collection time, which should then be generated on your test results. But you’ll want to confirm with your preferred testing option, and with the authorities in Belize, that this will be accepted. (That’s something that our WOW Listers are doing for their travelers.)
      Brook

  2. Missy DeBoard

    Hi!
    I am flying to Uganda in December through Amsterdam. They require a negative Covid Test 72 prior to departure.
    My question is does the 72 hours start at the time they take the swab, or would it start when you get your results.
    I am a bit concerned if it doesn’t come back for 24-48 hours it might run out by the time I reach my destination . When I get the results has it used up those hours already, and run out before I get there?

    1. Brook Wilkinson Post author

      Hi Missy,
      The test timing requirements vary by destination, and are all explained in our article about the countries that are open to U.S. travelers: https://www.wendyperrin.com/countries-reopened-to-u-s-travelers. But in every case, the window for testing begins at the moment you take the test, not when you receive results. To enter Uganda, your test must be performed within 72 hours of boarding an aircraft in-bound to Uganda; in your case, you must be tested in the 72 hours prior to boarding your flight from Amsterdam. You have a few options: (1) Find a test with a same-day turnaround (I received results of a PCR test in 20 minutes at a clinic in New York earlier this month); (2) take a test before leaving the U.S. that will return results while you are flying to Amsterdam; or (3) get tested at Schiphol Airport: https://klmhealthservices.com/en/about-us/contact/branches/#1486564109217-ff5f6c67-ef26. The first option would be preferable, of course, so that you know you will be allowed into Uganda before you leave home.
      Happy travels!

  3. Carol Sodergren

    Flying to Maui in November from PHX. Will CVS give you document proof that is acceptable to the Hawaiian Government?

  4. alcw

    I used Walgreen’s before flying to DIA and CVS after returning home to Virginia. The results from both tests came back within 72 hours. It was the self swab version done in their drive through pharmacy.

  5. Paul L Riviere

    Where in Broward Co., Florida, can I get a Covid-19 test with official results in 2 days or less in order to meet travel requirements? Need an exact reliable place name and address, please.
    Thank you,

    1. Brook Wilkinson Post author

      Hi Paul. We aren’t able to research every county in the nation, but here’s what I learned while looking into options in the New York area for my own upcoming trip. First, make sure you know exactly what kind of test your destination requires, and then search for quick Covid tests of that type in your county, and/or the larger cities in/near your county (e.g., Ft. Lauderdale, Miami). If you need a PCR test, don’t search for “rapid covid tests,” because that will bring up results for a non-PCR, less reliable type of test–known as a “rapid test”–that delivers results in 15 minutes. Many websites don’t list their latest turnaround-time info, so it’s best to call for up-to-date answers. If you have a layover, it may be possible to be tested inside that airport; if you opt for that you’d also want to take a mail-in test before you leave so that you don’t unexpectedly test positive between flights.

  6. Kishore Desai

    We are flying to Hawaii in early November. Hawaii govt has announced, beginning 15th October, we need to have corona test, 72 hours before our flight. We live in Orange County, California. Any recommendations for the test?

    1. Brook Wilkinson Post author

      Hi Kishore,
      You can find the specific requirements for which tests meet Hawaii’s standards at https://www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/covid-19-updates/. I recommend that you call these three companies that offer mail-in test kits and see if any of them meet those standards. If so, an at-home test will definitely be more convenient–and likely less expensive–than finding a medical office that can test you and return results in time. Good luck!

  7. Richard McIntyre

    Hi Brook, Richard Mcintyre again. I am taking a flight to Costa Rica on Nov.29. They require a confirmed negative COVID test with 72 hours of the flight. Thanksgiving is the 26th and most people don’t work on the 27th. I would need an email confirmation no later than the 28th of November prior to a 6:00 AM flight on the 29th. I know it is crazy. What would you suggest?
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Brook Wilkinson Post author

      I checked with The COVID Consultants, as they have the quickest turnaround time, and they told me that you could mail them a test on Friday with a Saturday-delivery label, and they could return results Saturday evening. You would have to confirm what your local FedEx drop-off location’s deadline is on November 27. I recommend that you call The COVID Consultants and FedEx for more info. Good luck!

    1. Brook Wilkinson Post author

      Good question, Richard. Pixel will accept Medicare for payment. Their also representative told me that, if Medicare or your private insurance denies the claim, they will submit your bill to be paid via government funding.

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