What happens if I get COVID-19 while traveling abroad?

What happens if I get COVID-19 while traveling?
COVID-19 rules for travelers vary depending on the destination, but wherever you go, it’s good to be prepared.
(Peter Hamlin / Associated Press)

What happens if you get COVID-19 while traveling abroad?

Depending on your destination, it could result in an unexpected change in plans, such as being required to stay isolated in a hotel.

That’s why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you have backup plans ready if you’re traveling abroad. You might have to stay longer than planned if you test positive.


In some places, you won’t be able to board flights until you test negative. In others, you might also be required to stay in a quarantine facility.

Since results from a PCR test can remain positive for weeks after an infection, people who have had COVID-19 might have to get documentation from a doctor or health authority saying they’ve recovered. Some travel requires only an antigen test.

The CDC’s chief medical officer has advice for travelers looking to stay safe when people around them have ditched their masks.

April 21, 2022

If you end up needing medical treatment, check with your embassy for suggested healthcare providers. Keep in mind that healthcare systems are still overwhelmed in some countries due to the pandemic.

Plan time for recovery since some countries — including the U.S. — require a negative test for reentry. Exceptions to this policy may be granted on an “extremely limited” basis, such as in the event of an emergency medical evacuation or humanitarian crisis, according to the CDC.

It also helps to be financially prepared to pay unexpected bills. Travelers are often responsible for costs associated with any isolation or medical treatments needed, though policies vary from country to country.

Travel companies suggest getting insurance that will cover the cost of treatment, isolation or rescheduled travel plans. Some countries require that you have insurance before you’re allowed to enter.