You are currently viewing Free COVID-19 Tests In The USA (To Enter Canada)

We’ll soon have a much more detailed guide about COVID-19 testing for travel (to complement our many pandemic travel resources), but here’s just a quick post to remind you NOT to pay $200 per test (like so many people keep telling us they did) to return to Canada from the USA… it’s so easy to get free COVID-19 tests in the USA.

Here are the details, including a bonus pro tip about a test that is even better than a PCR test and accepted to enter Canada (and also completely free in the USA).

Please share this with everyone you know who is in the USA because it genuinely pains me to see so many people waste money (after all, our mission here at Flytrippers is to help you travel more for less).

 

Overview of the free COVID-19 test tip

In short:

  • Free tests are widely available in the United States
  • They are available in almost every state
  • Residency or citizenship is not required (even if they ask for ID)
  • Simply use any US address if they ask for one (they don’t check)
  • Use your Canadian driver’s license if they ask for ID (it’s just to ID you)
  • Insurance is not required (even if they ask for it)
  • Canada accepts PCRs but also NAATs, which provide results much quicker
  • Our favorite is Walgreens, which has free NAATs almost everywhere
  • There are many other options depending on the state (see below)
  • You must book online in advance (usually no walk-ins)
  • Choose an appointment close to the 72-hr limit and book as early as possible
  • Appointments often open just days before

I have been to the United States twice in the last few months myself and I got tested completely free for my return to Canada both times (one PCR and one NAAT from Walgreens).

It was very easy.

Dozens and dozens of Canadians who follow our tips have done it too and saved hundreds of dollars. Check out the last section for a few testimonials I took from the comments to see many travelers who thank us for saving them hundreds of dollars after using this tip. 

This post has gotten tens of thousands of views. Not a single person ever wrote back saying it didn’t work. Many wrote that it did.

So please stop paying $200 for tests in the US in order to return to Canada!

This free COVID-19 test tip is the perfect microcosm of all travel in general: The vast majority of people think that paying so much money is normal and don’t even know that the money-saving tip exists!!!

We don’t even earn a commission or anything on these tests, we just love to help you save money here at Flytrippers. That’s why we share flight deals we spot at 50% off, welcome bonuses worth hundreds of dollars in free travel, and travel tips like this one.

 

Basics of traveling to the USA

As a reminder:

Given all those facts, many of you have restarted traveling to the USA—or are planning to do so soon. You can read our detailed post about how Canadians can travel to the United States.

Because even if it’s normally a terrible place to travel to if you want to keep costs down (especially compared to the 40 countries where C$30 per day total is enough), some prefer the convenience of visiting our closest neighbor. And of course, there are many appealing destinations in the vast country (they have more land area than in Canada after all).

But in terms of the cost of the required tests to return to Canada, the USA is actually the cheapest destination in the world: tests are completely free. And it’s so easy…

 

Getting tested for free in the USA

Walgreens is a chain of pharmacies with free COVID-19 testing in most states (that’s the one I used in New Jersey), and other chains like Rite Aid seem to offer the same free COVID-19 PCR tests. While those work extremely well, another chain, CVS Pharmacy, apparently has mixed results (depending on the state).

Websites like Go Get Tested (that’s the one I used in Texas) and Curative also work well in certain specific states.

Other readers told us that the generic free public health testing locations (for example in New York City) gave them a formal certificate so that can be used to enter Canada.

And if not, you can do what you should for literally anything you need to find, which is use Google. Just type “free PCR tests (city name)” and you’ll probably find even more options, in the USA at least.

(That same pro trick works to find tests in any country, but without the “free” part. Many of you seem very stressed out about finding tests abroad, but it’s really not one of the things to worry about at all, seriously. It’s extremely easy. I found a test in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan—hardly a popular tourist destination—in 10 seconds on Google, so you can most definitely find one almost anywhere you want to go.)

Let’s get back to the USA.

I can personally vouch for how easy it was with Walgreens. There are no residency, citizenship, or insurance requirements. It’s free for everyone. Walgreens alone has locations in almost every state.

Most locations seem to be drive-through tests only, so if you don’t have a rental car, you can grab a taxi from the parking lot to the drive-through lane for a pretty low cost since the test took me less than 5 minutes both times I did it in the USA.

Of course, just like the free vaccines, you need to make an appointment online in advance. And yes, the online booking process might ask for a US address: I just put in my Marriott hotel‘s address.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express® Card
Flytrippers Valuation
of Welcome Bonus alone
≈ $
minimum income required: $0
spend $1,500
in 3 months
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Amex is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "Apply Now" to see most up-to-date information.
Marriott Bonvoy American Express® Card
Flytrippers Valuation
of Welcome Bonus alone
≈ $
minimum income
required: $0
spend $1,500
in 3 months
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Amex is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "Apply Now" to see most up-to-date information.

 

Both times they didn’t check anything once I arrived for the test. For the NAAT, they had only asked for the address.

For the PCR, they ask for a “State ID” on the online form. As mentioned, there is no residency or citizenship requirement for the tests. A federal program subsidizes them. I repeat: There is no residency requirement.

Simply enter your Canadian driver’s license number and select the name of the state you are in, the form is just not designed for foreign IDs. They just need to check your ID to confirm your identity; to make sure the name on the lab report is really that of the person being tested.

The address and State ID are not important and both times they clearly told me that it was 100% allowed for Canadians. All those with who I shared this tip have confirmed this too.

They may ask about insurance in the form. It is not required. This is exactly why this federal program subsidizes COVID-19 tests in the United States. Just say that you don’t have insurance. They have to ask so that they can bill insurers instead of the government if they can.

 

Another pro tip to simplify your testing

Researching your travel plans and being prepared and well-informed has always been the best way to travel for less, but it’s even more true with the pandemic…

Not many people know that free PCR tests are easy to find in most US states, but even fewer know that there is an even better option than PCRs: NAATs. That’s another type of test that is much more convenient.

These are accepted to enter Canada, and the results come in so much faster!

I booked mine at a Walgreens in Newark when returning from Uzbekistan in late May via the USA to enter via the land border and avoid the hotel quarantine before that ineffective measure was finally abolished.

I got my results just 67 minutes after my appointment ended! And these tests are free too of course! The official timespan Walgreens gives for results is within 24 hours (compared to at least twice as long for PCRs).

But in practice, everyone I recommended the NAAT to got the results in just a few hours. My appointment was at 9:30 AM and I was there at that time precisely.

Appointment confirmation (image credit: Walgreens)

 

It took just a few minutes to do the test.

And my results came in at 10:37 AM.

Test results (image credit: PWNHealth)

 

That’s a lot quicker than the experience I shared getting a free PCR test in Texas.

NAATs are rapid tests, but not the same as rapid antigen tests (those are accepted for entry in many countries, but they are NOT accepted to enter Canada).

Walgreens calls NAATs “Rapid ID NOW” tests (not to be confused with “Rapid ANTIGEN”; I cannot stress this enough). NAATs don’t seem to be readily available as easily in countries other than the USA, for those who are wondering.

But almost everywhere in the US, you can find them easily as I did near Newark Airport (EWR). The red dots on the map are where you can get the NAAT.

The test type selection screen (image credit: Walgreens)

 

Again, so many people just don’t even know this type of test exists… that’s why it’s a great microcosm of travel tips in general, as the more you learn, the more you’ll save. And most people unfortunately just don’t take the time at all to learn about the best travel tips.

Like for example, the incredible welcome bonus offers we regularly tell you about, that can give you ≈ $1,157 in value depending on the one you choose…

Best credit card offers
(October 2021)
WELCOME BONUS
( VALUATION)
Best
for
American Express Cobalt Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $500/mo for 12 mos. + $3k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $1313
Card Fee: $156
Highest-ever
welcome bonus
on non-premium card
limited time
Platinum Card from American Express
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $1490
Card Fee: $699
Unlimited access to
airport lounges
and elite benefits
limited time
HSBC World Elite Mastercard (excl. QC)
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 6 mos. (see QC offer)
Welcome bonus: $699
Card Fee: $0 $149
No FX fee
and valuable
airline rewards
limited time
RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $840
Card Fee: $165
Great airline
rewards
for big spenders
limited time
American Express Gold Rewards Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $918
Card Fee: $250
Fans of Aeroplan
points
highest-value offer
American Express Aeroplan Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1.5k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $685
Card Fee: $120
Fans of Aeroplan
points
lower min. spend
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1.5k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $657
Card Fee: $120
All
travelers
a must-have card
limited time
American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 3 mos.
Welcome bonus: $1131
Card Fee: $599
For Air Canada
benefits
and a lot of pts
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Financial institutions are not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "See More" to see most up-to-date information.
Best credit card offers
(October 2021)
American Express Cobalt® Card American Express Cobalt Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $500/mo for 12 mos. + $3k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
limited time
Welcome bonus: $1313
Card Fee: $156
Best for: Highest-ever welcome bonus
on non-premium card
Platinum Card® from American Express Platinum Card from American Express
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
limited time
Welcome bonus: $1490
Card Fee: $699
Best for: Unlimited access to airport lounges
and elite benefits
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® HSBC World Elite Mastercard (excl. QC)
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 6 mos. (see QC offer)
WELCOME BONUS
limited time
Welcome bonus: $699
Card Fee: $0 $149
Best for: No FX fee and valuable
airline rewards
RBC® British Airways Visa Infinite RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
limited time
Welcome bonus: $840
Card Fee: $165
Best for: Great airline rewards
for big spenders
American Express® Gold Rewards Card American Express Gold Rewards Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
Welcome bonus: $918
Card Fee: $250
Best for: Fans of Aeroplan points
highest-value offer
American Express® Aeroplan®* Card American Express Aeroplan Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1.5k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
Welcome bonus: $685
Card Fee: $120
Best for: Fans of Aeroplan points
lower min. spend
Marriott Bonvoy American Express® Card Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $1.5k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
limited time
Welcome bonus: $657
Card Fee: $120
Best for: All travelers
a must-have card
American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
Card:
Bonus: spend $3k in 3 mos.
WELCOME BONUS
Welcome bonus: $1131
Card Fee: $599
Best for: For Air Canada benefits
and a lot of pts
Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Financial institutions are not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "See More" to see most up-to-date information.

 

Most travelers will ignore these record-high offers and will prefer putting in no effort and instead settle for earning a measly 1%-2% on their purchases (or worse; they’ll use a debit card or cash)…

Don’t make the mistake of not taking advantage of it (instead join the Flytrippers readers who have accumulated over a million dollars in welcome bonuses)…

… and don’t make the mistake of paying $200 for a COVID-19 test in the US either 😉

For those who asked, here is the official government website which obviously indicates that NAAT tests are accepted to enter Canada.

Accepted test types (image credit: Government of Canada)

 

And here is the lab report obtained after my NAAT from Walgreens, which includes all the required information… obviously since I entered Canada with this test myself.

My Walgreens test report (image credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

COVID-19 test testimonials

Of course, even though I am a travel expert who regularly appears in the National Post, Reuters, and countless other media outlets, there will always be people who see scams everywhere and don’t believe us! That’s life.

So in addition to using this tip myself and confirming that it works, here are some testimonials I took from the comments.

Free COVID-19 test in the USA testimonial (image credit: Flytrippers)

 

Rachael saved hundreds of dollars.

Free COVID-19 test in the USA testimonial (image credit: Flytrippers)

 

Saving US$600 like Jacob is not bad either.

Free COVID-19 test in the USA testimonial (image credit: Flytrippers)

 

Vaishni confirms it works even in super-expensive Hawaii.

Free COVID-19 test in the USA testimonial (image credit: Flytrippers)

 

Kavita did it in Florida, which is the top destination for Canadians.

Free COVID-19 test in the USA testimonial (image credit: Flytrippers)

 

Simone also reiterates our tip to book in advance.

Free COVID-19 test in the USA testimonial (image credit: Flytrippers)

 

Enas confirms it works too.

Free COVID-19 test in the USA testimonial (image credit: Flytrippers)

 

Lindi used the Walgreens PCR instead, and that worked too.

Free COVID-19 test in the USA testimonial (image credit: Flytrippers)

 

Finally, Peter used the NAAT in Florida.

Free COVID-19 test in the USA testimonial (image credit: Flytrippers)

       

So there you go, I think you get the point!

It’s as simple as that if you follow our instructions at the beginning of the article.

 

Want to get all coronavirus updates for Canadian travelers?

Sign up for our free newsletter

 

Summary

Getting a free COVID-19 test is very easy in the USA.

What would you like to know about COVID-19 testing for travel? Tell us in the comments below.

 

See the deals we spot: Cheap flights

Explore awesome destinations: Travel inspiration

Learn pro tricks: Travel tips

Discover free travel: Travel rewards

 

Featured image: Horseshoe Bend (photo credit: Gert Boers)

Advertiser Disclosure: In the interest of transparency, Flytrippers may receive a commission on links featured in this post, at no cost to you. Thank you for using our links to support us for free, we appreciate it! You allow us to keep finding the best travel deals for free and to keep offering interesting content for free. Since we care deeply about our mission to help travelers and our reputation and credibility prevail over everything, we will NEVER recommend a product or service that we do not believe in or that we do not use ourselves, and we will never give any third-party any control whatsoever on our content. For more information on our advertiser disclosure, click here.

Share this post to help us help more people travel more for less:

 

 

Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 62/193 Countries, 46/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

This Post Has 203 Comments

  1. Rhonda

    Is there a cheaper option in Mexico for a test? I’m reading that the PCR tests there are $100-$150 US

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, not that we know of. You might be able to find some cheaper ones on Google in some Mexican cities, but Flytrippers’ cofounder Kevin was in Playa del Carmen in April and tests were all around US$100 at that time at least.

  2. Brett

    Hello again,

    I just booked my PCR appt for next Tuesday and the only concern I have is the following statement that is stated after booking:

    Please bring a state or federal government-issued ID and the confirmation email to your appointment.

    I just want to confirm that when you used Walgreens, they didn’t request the actual ID when you went for the test.

    Thanks,

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, they may require ID in general, a document that has your name and date of birth on it, but it’s just to identify you and doesn’t need to be a US ID.

  3. Kristy

    Thank you!!! This is amazing 🙂

    1. Kristy

      If I am travelling from Canada to Vegas to 3 days I land @ 10 pm in Vegas my first day – is it okay to get the test the following day to re-enter Canada? Thanks for the help 🙂

      1. Andrew D'Amours

        Hi, it really depends on the time of your flight to Canada, not the time you land there. You can do your test in the 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of your direct flight to Canada.

        If you are flying from Vegas to Vancouver at 4 PM, you can do the test starting at 4 PM, that’s your 72 hours. If you are flying on that same 4 PM flight from Vegas to Vancouver but then have a connection to Calgary, it changes nothing. It is the flight to Canada that matters since it is an entry requirement and that’s the flight of your entry. If you are flying from Vegas to Denver but then have a connection to Calgary, your 72 hours is based on the Denver-Calgary scheduled departure.

        Hope this helps:)

  4. CJVP13

    Hi Andrew,
    you mention in your article that you have to have your test done 72 hours before your arrival into Canada, however everything im seeing including the Canadian government websites says 72 hours before the departure time of your last flight into Canada – any clarification here? Thanks!

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi! For flights it is 72 hours before the scheduled departure time, to enter by land it is 72 hours before your actual arrival.

      1. CJVP

        amazing, thank you! I didn’t want to do the last testing appointment of the day and risk missing the pick up that day since in Cali they dont have the NAAT test and we’re going to chance it with the PCR.
        Will update whether we get results in time 🙂

      2. Andrew D'Amours

        Awesome, wish you all the best. Thanks for letting us know yes 🙂 And enjoy California!

  5. isaac

    Just wondering if anyone has any experience doing this while travelling through either Washington or Oregon? Was the Walgreens tests free there as well? Hoping to go travelling in November and would love to hear some more info 🙂

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Walgreens is the one that is free in every state. I know I read one of our readers using it in Washington State, not sure about Oregon. But if there’s a Walgreens, you’re likely good!

  6. Jon

    This post saved me! Thank you so much. Very easy to book the NAAT ID NOW test at Walgreens..and the bonus is that aren’t even prompted for details like State ID or Insurance etc. I rolled up in an Uber and the only information I had to provide was my last name and DOB. My driver’s wife actually works for the CDC so we had a good chat about that. 100% Free like Andrew said. Got the results in ~2hrs. I’m telling every Canadian at my conference. Funny enough I saw that just in the last couple of days the ArriveCan app removed the (PCR) requirement from the COVID testing questionnaire. I think that’s where my biggest confusion was and I’m so glad I learned that NAAT was also accepted…which I found easily enough on the Gov website. Anyway – THANK YOU!

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi Jon, so glad we could help 😀 Thanks for sharing your experience. And interesting coincidence about your driver’s wife haha!

  7. Amy

    Hi Andrew, thank you for the great information about the free covid testing in the US. We will be attending my sister’s wedding in Las Vegas on Nov. 30th and will only be there for 3 days. Apparently we need to do NAAT due to our short trip. NAAT is Walgreen’s rapid diagnostic test, right? I will make a comment again once we get back to Canada. BTW, we can do the rapid antigen test to go the US but requires PCR/NAAT to return to Canada, right? Thanks again for your help in assisting travellers like me in this post pandemic time.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, you can do the PCR too, it’s just that results are longer to come in, so it’s riskier even if you do it as close to your 72-hour limit as possible. So the NAAT is best, and yes that’s the Rapid Diagnostic Test (ID NOW) at Walgreens.
      And correct, the US accepts rapid antigen tests but Canada does not.

      1. Gill

        Hi Andrews, recently I returned in Canada, by LAND border after a small trip to Maryland, US (by Air). It cost me for my test, did in NY states: 199 USD ! VERY VERY EXPENSIVE…..I was FULLY VACCINATED !
        ……the PROBLEM is ONLY on Canada side: specifically this Trudeau-Freeland PLC gov./Health Canada….with STUPIDS requirements !
        Moreover, the TRUTH is the Canadian Land border is STILL effectively CLOSED for American Land visitors !….this is opinions of MANY friends living in US !

        UNLESS Trudeau-Freeland PLC gov./Health Canada remove this STUPID Molecular Test, for FULLY VACCINATED returning Canadian (and Fully Vaccinated American visitors) I will DON’T travel to US ANYMORE !
        But for those who must go to US, in your upcoming “Detailed GUIDE about Covid-19 TESTING for RETURNING in Canada !”, could you give specific US adress for testing in those STRATEGIC states, for Land/car travellers, returning to Canada:
        NY (New York), , NH (New Hampshire), DE (Delaware), MD (Maryland), VT (Vermont), and FL (Florida).

        This will save A LOT of $$$ for many “NEW” Land travellers returning in Canada !

      2. Andrew D'Amours

        Hi, yes we are all hoping the testing requirement is removed very soon. But in the meantime, with a bit of preparation and planning, the US is really the only destination where it can be free quite easily.
        I’m not sure it would add that much value to provide addresses since the Walgreens website does it very well if you write it any city, you’ll see all locations in a fairly large radius. But also because there are so many destinations, it really depends on where you are going.

        But that said, I am going to the US in 2 weeks so I’ll at least take some video footage to provide even more information about the process!

  8. Anna

    So if you give them a US address though when you book it, how is it valid when you enter back into Canada if it doesn’t have your valid info on it besides your drivers license and name?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      The lab report does not have your address (nor is it required). Here is what the government requires (and labs almost always include this):

      -Traveller name and date of birth
      -Name and civic address of the laboratory/clinic/facility that administered the test
      -The date on which the test was conducted
      -The type of test conducted
      -The test result

      1. Anna

        Thank you!!

  9. Sheila

    Hi – do you, or anyone else, happen to know about testing in NYC? I’m looking at the Walgreens site and it only seems to have NJ locations (which also looks like where you ended up going) – but does anyone know anything about Manhattan?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, a reader told me he used a NYC public testing site and got a lab report and it worked fine to enter Canada, but I don’t know where that was precisely:S

  10. Michelle

    What if my test comes back positive? Will I not be allowed to board my flight back to Canada?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Unfortunately no, that’s the whole purpose of having to get tested before. It’s the only rule that is standardized across the globe no matter the country: You can’t board a plane if you’re positive. You can however return to Canada by land, assuming you have a suitable place to quarantine and commit to going there directly with no stops at all.

  11. Sophie

    Now that the border between Canada and the US has opened, I would love to do a day trip to Buffalo. I hope that we will be able to book at an appointment at a Walgreen’s the morning we arrive, and have the results later in the day in time for returning to Toronto by car. What do you think?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      In theory that would work, but they do say the NAAT results can take up to 24 hours. In practice it doesn’t seem like it’s ever that long, but you have to be willing to stay the night if the results aren’t back :S

  12. Jeff

    Thanks for tip!! , we booked our appointments on line shortly after we got to Las Vegas , drove the rental car through the drive -thru & got our results in about 30 hours!!.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Awesome, glad we could help! Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

  13. Robin Smith

    Andrew, your information was an absolute God Send in clarifying the difference between the antigen and non antigen rapid NAAT tests!!! Thank you!
    Now I do have another question that I can’t seem to find an answer to. Do you know whether or not the testing regulations have been updated to now require a QR code on the test result document? I’m wondering because when I called Walgreens they made a point of telling me that their tests do not include the scanner code?
    Thank you!

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, glad we could help. Nope, no QR code required. Just your name, DOB, the lab address, the type of test, and the result (which Walgreens reports have).

  14. Samantha

    I’m trying to book my Walgreens test online and it asked for a State ID/valid driver’s license # and when I booked my appointment it also reminded me to bring a valid “State ID/valid driver’s license or other government-issued ID”. How do you provide this as a Canadian?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      You use your Canadian license number, it’s just to ID you. No residency or citizenship requirement. Just updated the post to add this since so many people ask about it.

  15. Brett

    Hi Andrew,

    I am going to California on Oct. 26 and I have been looking at Walgreens locations for the NAAT test but when I look it appears as the closest location that offers it, is in Las Vegas. Did you or any of your readers face a similar issue? I’m nervous about booking the PCR test as I leave on Friday at noon and worry about getting the results in time to board if I wait till Wed to test and vice versa, I’m worried about the test not being in the 72 hour windown if I get them on the Tuesday I arrive. Any advice?

    Thanks,

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, yeah it seems California has only PCRs. One reader said she did the Walgreens PCR and got the results in less than 48 hours so if you do it close to the 72-hour limit, it could definitely work but it certainly is a lot tighter than with the NAAT. If you book it near the 72-hour limit, chances are you can avoid paying. But there is no certainty unlike with the NAAT.
      My PCR experience in the US was not with Walgreens, but that test came back in 24 hours so it is a bit riskier in places where the NAAT is not available (my NAAT result came in 1 hour). To me, it is worth a shot to save $200 per person, but I guess that would depend on your personal risk tolerance.

  16. Mark

    Good day,

    We are travelling to Boston and they do not seem to have a Walgreens that offers the NAAT test. Can we do our test in NY State on way into Mass. in Albany? Or because the address of our sons school is in Boston that we should try to find something in Mass?

    Thank you for your help

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, they really don’t check the address so it shouldn’t be an issue.

  17. CJS

    Hi! This is a great article and it would be fantastic to save $200US per person on our trip next week! We are travelling to Palm Springs and no Walgreens locations in an around the area (or even california) are showing to offer the NAAT test. CVS gives you the option to book a PCR/NAAT test but doesn’t let you specify which one at the time of booking. I called and was told that you simply tell the pharmacist which test you want when you arrive for your appointment but I’m concerned it may not be available. We prefer the NAAT because of the reduced results time just to be safe. Have you heard of PCR results taking longer than 48 hours? Any insight at all? Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, I am not sure CVS has the rapid molecular, they might be confusing that with the rapid antigen (which of course is not accepted in Canada). It seems that the PCR results get in before the 72 hours based on every data point we received from readers, but it certainly is a lot tighter than with the NAAT. If you book it near the 72-hour limit, chances are you can avoid paying. But of course, there is no certainty unlike with the NAAT.
      My PCR experience in the US was not with Walgreens, but that test came back in 24 hours so it is a bit riskier in places where the NAAT is not available (my NAAT result came in 1 hour). To me, it is worth a shot to save $200 per person, but I guess that would depend on your personal risk tolerance.

Leave a Reply