Update February 28, 2021 – eMed – Not Recommended – it appears they would like to be out of the international traveler testing business.
eMed currently states that their test kits “are NOT APPROVED for international reentry requirements” and apparently they never were.
Although their website still has a pop-up implying that the test could be used for international travel and you should check with your airline, they have also added a fine print banner on the order page with the above quoted text.
Apparently if you have already purchased the kits you’re stuck with them since the only permissible reasons for refunds are lost or damaged in shipping.
Three weeks ago when we heard about the United Airlines partnering with eMed to provide a $30 home test that could be carried by travelers and used to return to the U.S. we wondered how they were getting around the FDA requirement for a prescription but thought it was a great option if they could make it work.
Turns out not so much. If you’re looking for travel testing you should look for other options.
Here’s what we know
- eMed currently states that their test kits “are NOT APPROVED for international reentry requirements”
- the “Chief Information & Marketing Officer” of eMed contacted us yesterday and stated “eMed is not currently servicing international airlines and the process your portal outlines is not consistent with test use and CDC guidelines”
- United Airlines website no longer has any mention of eMed or Abbott labs and the order form link is broken.
- the “I’m traveling internationally within 14 days” option that people were using to obtain a prescription to order the test kits without having symptoms has disappeared from the eMed order form.
- Travelers have reported that eMed has reversed policy again and they are being told that sharing is no longer allowed. All 6 tests in an order (the only ordering option is a six pack) must be used by the individual who purchases them. This makes sense because you cannot share a prescription.
- As recently as this morning travelers who already have the kits reported the test results being accepted by airlines.
The FDA approval of the Abbott Lab test used by eMed requires a prescription for purchase and use so you should probably plan on finding a local antigen testing center instead.
Under threat of legal action (that was kinda over the top…we’re happy to oblige and provide the most current and accurate information possible when it’s made available) we’ve removed all of the information about their previous arrangement with United Airlines and instructions for using the eMed tests that you may have visited this page in search of…
Fortunately, there’s an alternative. A number of Costa Rican labs and hospitals have begun offering antigen tests for as little as $40 with results in 2-8 hours.
- Which airlines accept the DIY antigen test? See updated list of airlines below.
- When Can I order? The virtual prescription required to place an order can only be authorized 14 days or less before international travel. So you can order two weeks in advance.
- What ages can use the test? Anyone age 4 and over can be tested but anyone under 18 must be swabbed by an adult.
- What equipment is required? You will need a smartphone running at least i-phone os 11 or Android 8. You will also need a device with a web browser and video capability. You have to run both the app and the video monitoring telehealth proctor website simultaneously.
- Are there other approved “instant” antigen test? Yes other companies like Ellume make test kits using this technology and have been approved by the FDA
- Can I use a saliva sample instead? No. The test is only approved for use on nasal swab samples. Since saliva samples have been proven to be equally diagnostic nasal swabs will hopefully be eliminated soon.
- What about taking the liquid in the kit through TSA? The kits contain less than 1ml of liquid (about 20 drops) and can be carried in hand luggage through security checks without removing it to a ziplock bag.
The airlines are officially in charge of checking test results and deciding who flies to the U.S. and who does not. No guarantee but reports from returning travelers indicates that if you have any test result bearing your name, a date within 3 days and the word “negative” it is accepted with no questions by every airline. – Feb 22, 2021
United – the only airline that has definitively stated Home test results are accepted. Travelers have returning from Costa Rica on United flights confirm this.
Delta – although Delta has not posted an official announcement we have confirmed over 20 first hand accounts of using the home test results to board Delta flights departing Costa Rica.
Alaska, and American Airlines have published statements that travelers “will be able to use antigen home tests” Note the future tense; it does not say “are able.”
Several other airlines have made vague non-committal statements in customer service chats and calls but have not committed to officially accepting the results.
Spirit and Sun Country are the only airlines we’ve seen making a definitive statement that they will not accept self tests, only lab tests.