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Self-Test kits for return flight to US

Hello,

According to CDC guidelines, US citizens returning to the US from France need a negative Covid test 3 days prior to boarding their flight home.

I understand this can be done at many pharmacies across France, but United Airlines seemed to indicate that a "self-test kit" result was acceptable. Has anyone done this? Seems more economic than paying in pharmacy the 20-30 EUR each as we have several self-test kits (our local library system is handing them out for free on a limited basis).

Posted by
9928 posts

Make sure the ones the library is handing out are the ones that are approved for flying back to the US. There are 2 kinds - one is an unmonitored test you do yourself. The kind the airlines accept is a proctored test - over a zoom call - where you open the package in front of the proctor, do the test, wait 15 minutes for the results.

I'm guessing the kind your library is handing out is the unproctored kind. I've picked them up at my Walgreens for $23.99. The proctored ones are a bit more expensive.

Here is a youtube video explaining the differences.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=felpqrm6lzI

A number of people on the forum have reported using them. One poster did not realize you need to download the app before you leave the US and felt she was scammed because the tests were unable to be used. Others have reported using them with the downloaded app and having no problem.

There have been recalls of the Ellume brand kit but not the Binax Now kit.

Here is the emed link to order the proctored Covid tests - looks like $150 for 6 tests.

https://www.emed.com/products/covid-at-home-testkit-six-pack?hsLang=en

BTW, I did the kind at the neighborhood pharmacy in Paris the end of October and it was very easy. It was 25E and she had my results printed out in 15 minutes. Very nice experience.

Posted by
2746 posts

I have done one of these tests, but not for travel yet. It is the exact same test my kids school gives out for sick children to be allowed to return to school, it's the Binax Now test that is labeled for travel - you do a video call with a proctor so your results are verified. There are cheaper tests by the same brand, without the proctor, but they don't count for travel, probably because there is no way to verify it.

For this, you have to download the Navica app and set up a profile before the test. Apparently some people have had trouble downloading the app overseas, so download it at home before. Then when it's time for your test, open the app and follow the prompts under "I have a test". You scan the test box barcode, they connect you with a person who tells you how to set up and do the test and watches you swab your nose. You swab, put the swab in a test card, and then wait 15 minutes. A person comes back on the app after 15 minutes, looks at your test and tells you the result. You can tell yourself - it's just seeing if a line shows up, like in a pregnancy test. But the proctor verifies it. Assuming it is negative, you get an e-mail and a QR code in the app that you can show to schools, airlines, anyone who accepts this test.

Posted by
104 posts

I was looking at this as well earlier today. AA recommended a few different kinds. One of which they say you need to bring 2 (Qured) tests- which I confirmed with the company. I might just wait and go to a pharmacy, as it seems so much cheaper in the long run.

Posted by
5536 posts

I have used Abbott Binax Now Rx version for travel. It was easy and convenient.
Make sure you have the Rx version and not the one that has OTC on it.

One poster did not download the required app before leaving the US and found that this created large problems for her and was quite angry. All others on the forum have reported success with this test.

Posted by
1401 posts

I have used the BinaxNow tests twice without any issues. Fist time in August in Albania and again 2 days ago in Campeche, Mexico. I’m currently sitting in the airport waiting for the first flight - will only make it home tomorrow.

The key advantage of the tests (IMO) is that I can do it when I please and don’t have to deal with the language barrier. I did find a clinic in Campeche who would administer the test but the results were going to be in Spanish and there was no guarantee of a QR code. Decided not to chance it just to save a few bucks. I have at least 3 more trips already booked in the upcoming 9 months (Dominican Republic, Gambia& Senegal, and s Africa/Eswatini/Lesotho) and will definitely be carrying these tests so long as they are needed.

In your situation it may not matter if you have tons of locations where you can get the test easily, but for some of us who are in out of the way places these tests are very practical and hassle free

Posted by
172 posts

I am preparing to use the Binax Now proctored test next month. As I was reading an earlier post on this subject, two different people said they had to log in to the emed site first when they were ready to test. Do you still need to do that? When I open the NAVICA app, it looks like I can just connect to a person and start my test from there. What is the emed site needed for? Or isn't it necessary? We plan to do a "test" test from the US before leaving for our trip, but we're not ready to do that yet. Thanks!

ETA: We have already purchased our test kits from emed and have them in hand.

Posted by
6802 posts

Joe R, nobody has mentioned what the proctored self-test costs, but I'm guessing not much less or any less than the 20-30 EUR you mentioned for the pharmacy test. I've done several of the OTC tests, and its a good idea to have extras, as it can be easy to spoil one.

Posted by
37 posts

We had the same questions that you have when we traveled back in October. We were trying to decide on local pharmacy testing vs the Abbott BinaxNOW home test with a proctor. Based on the advise of many on this forum we did decide to use the Binax in our hotel with a back up plan to schedule an in person test at a local testing center if the self testing failed. It really was an easy and convenient method to meet the requirement.

I ordered the six pack of tests, downloaded the NAVICA app and set up our accounts at home. We did do a test at home for two reasons, one, to make sure we understood how the whole process worked while still able to get questions answered, and two, I wanted to be confident we were negative before leaving the country since I am a nurse working in a hospital. Got the tests emailed within minutes and felt confident of the entire process.

In order for the test to be accepted by the airline to fly home to the US it must be proctored, done on line with someone that can scan the code on the test package, your picture ID, and the result card. The test result is easy to read, but the proctor views and verifies and sends an email within minutes. We then forwarded the email to the hotel’s front desk and they printed for us.

You could easily do the test without any proctor, but the results are not recorded anywhere. Thus nothing to show the airline. Most likely the test your library is providing. Six tests are quite a few, someone on this forum said its possible to order only a two pack. We wanted six tests, two for testing prior to our trip, two for testing to meet the airline requirement and the last two for a planned trip to the Christmas markets later this month. Well sadly that trip is now off but there is always next spring and those two tests are ready and waiting.

No matter which method you use, local pharmacy or the proctored test, there is a cost to getting a test to fly back to the US. Will most likely be a part of the travel process for the foreseeable future for quite some time.

Posted by
9928 posts

I saw on your other thread that you will be traveling with a 3-year-old. Honestly, I'd go the pharmacy route with her instead of trying to do the do-it-yourself method. I think this is one of the times where a person should not try to go the cheapest route. You need to do easy and less traumatic (for her and for you!).

Posted by
6730 posts

I don't know Pam -- the test I had done at the pharmacy involved a swab that felt like it was punched into my brain -- it was quite painful. The home tests just do a nose swab which is easy and not at all uncomfortable. Apparently the deep swabbing is not necessary but was the norm for early tests and many pharmacists still do it that way. I would sure not want to subject a 3 year old to that when a simple nose swab is painless and easy.

Posted by
8512 posts

I had four pharmacy and lab tests in France two weeks ago. They were all comfortable. Not one felt like it was piercing my brain. I have previously had two to fly to the States. They, too, were comfortable. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience, Janet.

Posted by
9928 posts

I've not had as many as Bets has, just the one to return home this fall and I barely even felt it.

Posted by
25 posts

I ordered the kits off emed because United recommended them. I think it was the Binax one. I was fortunate to send them back. They were sent with an expiration date prior to my flight this month. I ordered them Nov. 1 and they expired Nov. 18th. I found it strange they would send them to me with such limited window of use. Please look over this prior to opening the kit. They took them back reluctantly and told me that emergency use authorization extended the shelf life but I did not want to chance this. Also, you need to use internet to do a telehealth visit and I was unsure how spotty the WIFI might be at our hotel in Paris. I also heard there could be significant wait times to connect. It may be easier to go to a local pharmacy and do your test. I contacted our hotel and they provided me a local pharmacy down the street that does testing for tourists.

Posted by
5536 posts

Quick note on the expiration date. This test has now been approved for an extended expiration date of 1 year past the date of manufacture. The documentation from the CDC is on the Abbott site. So, ignore printed expiration dates and look at the manufacture date and add one year for the real expiration date.

Posted by
3 posts

We fly Delta and when we purchased our tickets we got notice about the opportunity to purchase a Covid test kit that could be used for testing before returning to the USA. It was an Abbott Binax test. We were told to get the Navica app to show the test results. This test kit is proctored to be sure you don't 'cheat'. The process was a bit clumsy but it worked. The good thing about this process was the test results were sent directly to Delta and we never had to show proof of our negative test results.

Posted by
441 posts

I purchased the two-pack United was hawking to use for my return trip home from Israel. While United may have accepted it for boarding a plane back to the US, Israel required a negative PCR test. I did the Abbott proctored test anyway just to see how it worked.

  1. I downloaded the Navica app ahead of time while still in the US.
  2. When I scanned the QR code on my test box it prompted me that the Navica app wasn't working, and that I should log into EMed.
  3. My negative result showed up almost immediately, but I still had to wait the 15 minutes for it to be officially recorded.
  4. The results are password protected, which means if you just upload them no one else will be able to open the document unless they have your password. Printing out the result sheet or taking a screen shot of it solves that.

It was an interesting ( albeit somewhat expensive) experience. This test may well work for you, but just be prepared for the constantly changing requirements of your destinations. You may still have to seek out a PCR test as I did.

Posted by
6730 posts

Glad to hear all pharmacy tests are not as thorough lol as ours was. It was truly awful. It is so easy to get them done at pharmacies that I would not bother with home test kits and hoping to connect on line for proctoring etc. Maybe have the cheaper ones to do a preview so you are aware if a fail is likely.

My concern is the test that will be required to get into France and hoping it is not going to be a PCR because those are hellexpensive here to get the quick turn around.

Posted by
20 posts

We just ordered some, but there is a delay in getting them so we may end up just finding a pharmacy in France, it's not that much more money to be honest.

Posted by
2047 posts

As long as testing is required I will be traveling with the test from eMed. Yes you have to buy them in a six pack I think. But I’ve already used several.

It’s easy to do my airlines have not had a problem with it (I haven’t even printed I just show it to them on my phone and they’re fine)

Yes I know you can get it at a pharmacy, you can get it someplace else. I just prefer to have a back up if needed and compared to the cost of the trip this is a small price. if I cannot afford this test kit, i probably shouldn’t be leaving the country

My last trip to Mexico, I had an appointment for a test and just forgot. No problem, I went back to my hotel room, did my 20 minute online test and headed back to the beach. Very easy

I also test before I go places even if it’s places that don’t require testing and I have that in my app and on my phone if anyone asks. In addition to having the test which is nice, it’s the responsible thing to do in my opinion. If I have Covid I certainly don’t want to take go someplace and give it to people

Posted by
20 posts

Carol- We got a six-pack from emed as well but we have a family of 4 and we were only able to register 3 of us with that six-pack (there were only 3 spots for names). Any idea why? Also, we cannot buy one for my daughter, it says 15 and over... I am so confused...

Posted by
2047 posts

Sorry, I don’t really have any insight into how their system works. It’s just been two of us so we haven’t had any problems

Posted by
6 posts

Does anyone have experience with pharmacy hours in France? I just saw on the forum that travelers should be aware that if their flight leaves on a Tuesday (and our France to US flight does) many pharmacies are closed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This question was on the Italy forum, but I wonder if it's also true for France?
Maybe we should just get self-test kits?

Posted by
486 posts

The current rule is 1 day before, and you can find pharmacies with quick covid tests (antigen) all over.

Posted by
8512 posts

@kap--French pharmacies are open on Mondays.

Posted by
84 posts

Bets, do you know if they are they open on Sunday? Around Lyon?