Covid Testing in 2021 for Travelers Going to Puerto Vallarta

covid testing building in mexico
covid testing building in mexico

A 2021 COVID Breakdown for Travelers Visiting Puerto Vallarta 

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, 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. Let’s review all the key points that travelers should be informed of in question-answer format.

beach and ocean front in puerto vallarta

Do you need a COVID test to enter or travel to Mexico?

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 a COVID vaccination to travel to Mexico, the CDC recommends that you get fully vaccinated before traveling to Mexico. (view all CDC safety recommendations.) Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Mexico. 

It is also not required that travelers are 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, which has digital sign-up appointment slots and a reliable process that will save you hours of waiting in line at the airport for a test on your last days there. 

What is the COVID testing procedure for your trip? Do you need a COVID test to re-enter America?

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 effective as of January 26th, 2021. You will need to follow this order if you are traveling into the US as a US citizen or legal permanent resident. 

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 to the United States 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 any layovers no 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-19 test that must be taken?

You will need a viral test (NAAT or antigen test) to determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19. 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 be able to pass through airline regulations and board your return flight. If you do not provide the proper documentation, you will not be allowed to board your flight, so this planning should definitely be an important part of your trip.

What kind of information should be on your 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. 

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

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 before my return flight?

If you test positive for COVID-19 in Mexico, you will not be allowed to board your flight and will have to isolate (if infected) or quarantine (if exposed) in accordance with Puerto Vallarta’s local requirements. 

I am traveling with an infant. Does the baby also need a negative COVID test? 

All air passengers age 2 and older need to provide negative test results. Children under the age of 2 do not need to provide negative test results.

Where do I go to get a reliable test for my return flight? 

There are different kinds of testing sites throughout Puerto Vallarta. Some of the all-inclusive hotels and resorts will have their own COVID testing stations for their vacationers. For a full list of approved testing sites, visit our Puerto Vallarta Resources page here.  

CityHealth operates a bilingual COVID testing site in downtown Puerto Vallarta. It’s very convenient to get to from anywhere in Puerto Vallarta, and you can easily book an appointment time online, which will save you hours of waiting in line at the airport. This FDA-approved antigen test costs $58, is straightforward and reliable and will email and text message you the test result in an hour. 

We recommend researching testing options and scheduling an appointment before your flight to Mexico so that you don’t have to do this process during your actual vacation. 

covid testing building in mexico

What happens if my flight is delayed or 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, watch this video guide here, or 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 on 2021 COVID regulations in regards to the Puerto Vallarta destination 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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Enjoy your trip to Puerto Vallarta!