Puerto Vallarta COVID Test Guidelines for Travelers

covid testing building in mexico
covid testing building in mexico

There are the fun parts of travel planning…and then there are those not-so-fun parts, like renewing expired passports, getting the necessary vaccines for your destination, finding a COVID test, and so on. 

With the pandemic and all the location-specific restrictions as a new normal in the traveling planning process, we’re breaking down exactly what you need to know about COVID regulations that will affect your trip to Puerto Vallarta. Here are some of the key points that travelers should know about. 

beach and ocean front in puerto vallarta

Do you need a COVID test to enter Mexico?

No. You do not need a COVID test to enter Mexico, and you also do not need to quarantine once you’ve arrived in Mexico.

Although you don’t need to be vaccinated to travel to Mexico, the CDC recommends that you get fully vaccinated before traveling abroad. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Mexico. 

It is also not required that travelers be fully vaccinated to return to the United States, but you will need approved documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result.

You will need to present documented proof of a negative result collected within a three-day window of your departure flight date. If you are visiting Puerto Vallarta, we recommend our CityHealth COVID testing site at Biomedical Center downtown. It’s easy to get to, offers convenient online appointment booking, and a travel-ready Digital Health Certificate will be securely emailed to you within half an hour of your test. And the best part – you’ll save the hours-long lineups for travel testing at the airport on your way home. 

Do you need a COVID test to re-enter America?

Yes, you will need to present documentation of a negative COVID test result to board your flight into the United States according to a CDC order from January 26th, 2021. The order applies to everyone entering the US, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status. 

This test must be performed before boarding, so you’ll need to find a COVID test in Puerto Vallarta if you’re vacationing there.

If you are arriving on a direct flight to the United States, your test must be done within the 3 calendar days before your flight departs. If you are arriving in the United States via one or more connecting flights, your test must be done in the 3 days before the first flight in your itinerary, but only if the connecting flights were booked as a single passenger booking with a final destination in the United States and no layovers are longer than 24 hours. 

If your connecting flight to the US was booked separately or a layover in your itinerary lasts longer than 24 hours or your travel is disrupted and you leave the airport, you will need to get tested within the 3 days before your flight arrives in the US. The test must follow specific guidelines laid out by the CDC. You can find view the list of their original requirements for details, and we will break down the main points in the rest of this article. 

Is there a specific type of COVID test required?

Yes, either a Molecular PCR or a Rapid Antigen test is required to re-enter the US.

A viral test (NAAT or antigen test) will determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19, although it can’t tell if you are infected with a variant. All air passengers traveling to the US, regardless of vaccination status, are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery. 

The test must be collected within three days of your return flight departure. This gives more flexibility than the 72-hour testing window- e.g. if your return flight is on Friday, you would need to get your test on Tuesday or after. 

There are also specific identifiers and pieces of information that must be on the negative result document for you to board your flight. If you do not provide the proper documentation, you will not be allowed to board. Check that your local testing provider includes this test documentation, or if there is an additional fee. At CityHealth’s COVID testing location in downtown PV, travel documentation is included in the cost of the test. 

What information should be on COVID test result documentation?

Your test result must be either a paper or electronic copy of written documentation. There should be identifying information, such as the entity issuing the test and the date that your sample was collected, the type of test (it should be NAAT or antigen), and the result. These results must be signed off on by a licensed chemist (if you’re getting tested in Mexico). 

For the exact wording of the requirements from CDC, visit their 2021 guidelines and requirements page.

What happens if you test positive for COVID before a return flight?

If you test positive for COVID-19 in Mexico, you will not be allowed to board your flight. You will have to isolate in accordance with Mexico’s local requirements until you are no longer infected. Check to see if your travel insurance makes provisions for medical care or isolation costs due to the global COVID pandemic.  

Getting a COVID test in Puerto Vallarta from a reputable US company or a clinic with bilingual staff can go a long way towards easing anxieties about what happens if you test positive while abroad.

Do infants need a negative COVID test for travel?

All air passengers age 2 and older need to provide a negative test result. Children under the age of 2 do not need to take a COVID test.

Where can you get a reliable COVID test in Puerto Vallarta?

There are many different testing options Puerto Vallarta. Some of the all-inclusive hotels and resorts have their own COVID testing services for their guests. For a complete guide to return testing options, check out our guide to Returning to the US After International Travel

CityHealth operates a bilingual COVID testing site in downtown Puerto Vallarta. It’s convenient to get to from anywhere in Puerto Vallarta, and you can easily book an appointment online (instead of waiting for hours at the airport). This CDC-approved antigen test is just $58 and will email and text message you your results in half an hour. 

covid testing building in mexico

What happens if a flight is delayed or there are other travel complications?

If your flight is delayed enough where it is more than a 24-hour window outside of your three days, you must be retested. 

There are different guidelines for different traveling scenarios. If you have specific inquiries about your unique trip logistics, you can find the extended terms for traveling here. For more information about COVID testing for your upcoming trip to Puerto Vallarta, visit CDC to learn more.

We’ve also put together some resources for the fun side of traveling!
Read our 2021 Comprehensive Travel Guide for Puerto Vallarta, or check out our family-specific Puerto Vallarta guide.

Hopefully, you find this brief guide helpful for your next vacation. We hope you’ll have an exciting and memorable trip to Mexico. Bon voyage and safe travels!

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