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 guide to make sure you do NOT 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). And it’s not the rapid antigen test even if Canada now accepts it; those are free in the USA too, it’s just that it’s not the best option compared to the NAAT.

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).

You can watch this video about the free tests in the US if you prefer that format.

 

Or if not, read on.

 

Overview of the free COVID-19 test tip

In short:

  • Free COVID-19 tests are widely available in the United States
  • They are available in every state (we list the websites below)
  • Residency or citizenship is not required (even if they ask for an ID/address)
  • Insurance is not required (even if they ask if you have it)
  • You don’t need to be Canadian either, it’s really for everyone
  • I’ve done it myself 6 times (and countless Canadian readers have too)

But there are important things to know about free COVID-19 tests in the USA:

  • Canada accepts PCRs but also NAATs, which provide results much quicker
  • Results from the free PCRs take longer to receive (but PCRs are easier to find)
  • 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
  • This works since April 2021 and still works as of February 2022
  • It’s unlikely to change soon but double-check here before your trip (we’ll keep this updated)

And I have a step-by-step below, but here are the essentials to know about the process:

  • 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)
  • Our favorite option is Walgreens for free NAATs with same-day results

As I said, I have been to the United States 6 times myself since April 2021 and I got tested completely free for my return to Canada all 6 times (2 PCRs and 4 NAATs). Including on February 12, 2022.

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 many testimonials I took from the comments if you want to see many travelers who thank us for saving them hundreds of dollars after using this tip. 

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!!!

(Like those who think paying $800 to fly to Europe is good even though we find roundtrips for $400 almost every day… or those who think earning 1% back is good when there’s a card that gives you 5% or more in travel rewards.)

Anyway, 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, fully vaccinated Canadians can enter the US for any reason:

  • By land: No test required to enter the US
  • By air: Rapid antigen test required to enter the US

Since it’s so easy, 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. It includes the exemptions for children, among many other details.

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…

 

Where to get a free COVID-19 test in the USA

Here are the top 7 resources to find free COVID-19 tests 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 Louisiana). It’s the one to prioritize for those NAATs. Especially since you can see the locations with free tests easily on their website without having to enter any information.

Rite Aid seems to offer the same free COVID-19 PCR tests, but in fewer states.

While those work extremely well, another chain, CVS Pharmacy, apparently has mixed results (depending on the state). And you have to fill out some info to even see which locations offer which tests.

Websites like Go Get Tested (that’s the one I used in Texas) and especially Curative also work well in certain specific states. BeeperMD is a new one that might or might not be only in Florida, but I’ve listed it since Florida is the most popular destination anyway.

Other readers told us they used local pharmacies that weren’t part of any chains and many told us they used the generic free public health testing locations (for example in New York City) and those gave them a formal lab report (so those can be used to enter Canada).

To find those, 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.)

 

How free COVID-19 tests in the USA work

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-thru 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 all 6 times I did free tests 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.

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But 5 times out of the 6, they didn’t check anything once I arrived for the test. They just asked my name and date of birth. For the NAAT, they had only asked for the address online anyway (no ID).

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 for everyone. 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 it’s 100% allowed for Canadians.

They may ask about insurance in the form. It is not required. The federal program that subsidizes COVID-19 tests in the United States is precisely for the uninsured. Just click that you don’t have insurance.

They are obligated to ask so that they can bill insurers instead of the government as much as possible. But you do not need insurance and they never even asked me once I was there. It is really just online.

Here is the FAQ from Walgreeens’ website about the cost. IF you have insurance, they will bill the insurer. That’s it.

Confirmation of the free COVID-19 test (image credit: Walgreens)

 

Details about the free NAAT COVID-19 test in the USA

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!

The first time, I had 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 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 for my first free COVID-19 test (image credit: Walgreens)

 

It took just a few minutes to do the test.

And my results came in at 10:37 AM.

Results of my first free COVID-19 test(image credit: PWNHealth)

 

That’s a lot quicker than the experience I shared getting a free PCR test in Texas (it took 24 hours for those results).

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” or also “Rapid Diagnostic Tests” (not to be confused with “Rapid ANTIGEN tests”; 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.

Type selection for free testst (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…

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

 

For some reason, many seem to think that the passport number has to be on your lab report, but it doesn’t. Canada requires:

  • Your name
  • Your date of birth
  • The lab’s name and address
  • The date and time of the test
  • The type of test
  • A negative/undetected result

Of course, pretty much every test provider includes all that information by default.

 

Step by step process for free COVID-19 tests

Before I share reader testimonials, I’ll show you how it works step-by-step with my most recent example on November 7.

You go to the Walgreens website.

Right away you can enter a destination to see if they have any tests and if they have NAATs specifically.

Searching for a free COVID-19 test (image credit: Walgreens)

 

Before agreeing to go to Louisiana, I checked if they had NAATs (like anything you want to prioritize for a trip, you have to check BEFORE choosing a destination, not once you’ve already chosen….)

NAATs are the red option and PCRs are the purple option. Rapid antigen tests that are not accepted for entry into Canada are the blue option.

Types of free COVID-19 tests (image credit: Walgreens)

 

Then there is your personal information to fill out.

I put in the address of my Marriott hotel (the Courtyard LSU/Acadian paid for by my hosts, allowing me to earn 13 points per dollar to use in many amazing countries to maximize my free nights).

Personal info for free COVID-19 tests (image credit: Walgreens)

 

Then, there is a form with questions about COVID-19.

Since there is a question that asks if you have been outside of the US in the 14 days prior, anyone who is in the US for a short trip can answer yes and get a free test.

If you are there for a longer stay, that second option seems very subjective…

Questions for free COVID-19 tests (image credit: Walgreens)

 

You can then choose a time slot. Like I said, depending on the location, the time slots become available either 5, 4, or 3 days prior only.

And they get snapped up quickly, so be on top of things and check ahead of time when that particular location opens its time slots and set a reminder or an alert so you can quickly make your appointment near your 72-hour limit.

Appointments for a free COVID-19 test (image credit: Walgreens)

 

That’s it. You’ll receive an appointment confirmation by email (always instantly in my case).

I guess I don’t need to tell you this, but make sure you write your email correctly if you want to receive your test results.

Searching for a free COVID-19 test (image credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

On the day of your appointment, you head to the drive-thru.

The first 2 times, there was no wait, but this time there were 2 cars in front of me.

Showing up for a free COVID-19 test (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

You tell the employee that you have an appointment for a COVID-19 test. She asks for your name and date of birth. That’s all she asks for: No ID, nothing.

She gives you a cotton swab that you insert into each nostril and you make 5 circles. It’s not deep at all, it’s just the contour of the nostrils.

Performing the free COVID-19 test (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

At the beginning of our video about free COVID-19 tests in the United States, I show you the entire process of doing the swab, which literally takes 15 seconds, if you want to see how easy it is.

That’s it. You give her your sample back through the little box.

Returning the sample for the free COVID-19 test (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

And then you leave. A maximum of 5 minutes for the whole thing.

In this case, I received my results in 3 hours instead of just 1 hour.

Email with results of the free COVID-19 test (image credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

The lab report was different compared to May, so either it varies based on the Walgreens location or they have changed their template since then.

All the required info is on the lab report (some info seems missing but I just redacted it for my privacy).

Lab report with results of the free COVID-19 test (image credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

 

To be honest, I was wondering if the airlines would be aware that NAATs are accepted for entry into Canada, since they are the ones who check when you enter by air. The other 2 times, since I was entering by land, it was just the customs agent who was checking (and they know the rules).

But no problem. Both during the initial boarding on United and the boarding of the last flight on Air Canada (ticket paid with Aeroplan points obviously, thanks to the record-high offers currently available).

 

Testimonials about the free COVID-19 tests

Of course, even though I am a travel expert who regularly appears on CBC, 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 thanks to free COVID-19 tests in the USA.

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 free COVID-19 tests work too.

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

 

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

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

 

Peter used the free NAAT in Florida.

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

 

Heather actually got here free COVID-19 tests with Curative.

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

 

Amanda’s in-laws did the free NAAT COVID-19 test in New Hampshire, a state accessible to many with the land border now reopened.

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

 

Another Peter also used the NAAT and had no issues with his free COVID-19 tests.

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

 

Kendall wonders why some people pay for tests in the US when it’s free, and it’s a good question.

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

 

Leon also took advantage of the free COVID-19 test for a trip to beautiful DC.

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

 

Finally, Susan confirmed with Health Canada AND the CBSA but please do not call them for this, it’s much simpler to look at their website which clearly states that NAATs are acceptable as I showed you above.

Free PCR test
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 in this article.

 

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Summary

Getting a free COVID-19 test is very easy in the USA. If you are a traveler, you should take advantage of these free tests instead of paying $200.

What would you like to know about free COVID-19 tests in the USA for travelers? 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)

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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: 64/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

This Post Has 696 Comments

  1. Jeremy

    Hey Andrew,
    I am trying to find locations is Florida that will do free testing for Canadians. Apparently most places, including Walgreens, now require Health Insurance in the United States. Any tips that can help me find free Covid Testing in Orlando?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi,
      There is most definitely not any insurance requirement. There never has been any insurance requirement and it hasn’t changed yet 🙂

  2. Sladana

    Hi Andrew, thank you for the info. We came back from Michigan on April 16th. We were able to get the free Covid test for our five years old son following these instructions. The nearest location was offering only PCR and NAAT tests. We got NAAT results in less than 2 hours.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, so glad we could help you save money 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience and we really appreciate it if you want to share Flytrippers’ site or page on your social media to thank us, it helps us a lot 😉
      Hope you enjoyed your trip 🙂!

  3. at home pcr

    Thank you for all your help. Your service was excellent and very FAST. Many thanks for you kind and efficient service. I have already and will definitely continue to recommend your services to others in the future.

  4. Stéphane

    J aimerais savoir si le test rapide 24 heures est encore en vigueur pour prendre l’avion direction USA? Je sais que le masque est dorénavant optionnel alors je me demande si ils ont gardé le test ?

  5. Dan

    Are they still doing these free tests?

  6. Hope

    I have a kid who is not dully vaccinated that will need to get tested. The walgreens website now shows a “rapid naat” test, not “id now”. Is that the same thing? And since its a rapid test, does it need to be done within 24 hours or 72? Or is it a kind of rapid molecular test?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Yes it’s the same thing, and NAATs are molecular tests so you have 72 hours 🙂

    2. Jason

      We have a kid under 12 not fully vaxed as well. We got her tested for free at Walgreens a couple hours before crossing the land border. But the results didn’t arrive in time. However, at the border the word COVID or Vaccine was never mentioned. “Drive safe, welcome back to Canada” was the message.

  7. Martin

    Hi Andrew, are you aware if Walgreen’s has stopped doing their free NAAT tests? We are leaving for US in a couple days and want to make sure we don’t have to pay for tests to return when tests will no longer be required two days after our return?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Yes no change. You should check directly on their website for the specific location you are going to though, you’ll see right away if they have the right type of test.

    2. Susan

      Walgreens (NAAT) and CVS (NAAT, PCR) are still providing free tests in South Florida.

  8. Dan

    Just got another NAAT test done in Alexandria Virginia. Same day appointments were available. You can also book almost a week in advance. Got the results back in 20 minutes. Have 72 hours to get back to Canada, so don’t bother seeking antigen tests. The NAAT tests give you more time to travel and test results come back fast.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, thanks for sharing. Yeah I would definitely keep doing the NAAT in the US for sure 🙂 Hope you enjoyed your trip!

      1. Tom MCCUlloch

        All Walgreens in Dunedin offers a rapid test NAAT and not the ID NOW tests you talk about Are they the same for getting into Canada ? Thanks

      2. Andrew D'Amours

        Hi, Walgreens Rapid ID NOW tests are the NAATs.

  9. Mike

    Canada now accept a Rapid Test within 24 hours of returning from any cross border trip to the US. I don’t see any updated information for free rapid test availability while visiting the US. PCR tests within 72 hours is still an option but where can we go for free rapid tests?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Still better off doing the rapid molecular test at Walgreens in the US since it’s free. Very quick results and that way you make it a lot simpler if you test positive. But many of the 7 sites we list above should also have antigen tests.

  10. May

    Hi Andrew, we are returning to Canada on 3/7 from Honolulu. I know as of 2/28 we just need to do a rapid test to return. But it seems like Walgreens only have the PCR test available on Oahu. So we can just get that done instead of the rapid? But will it still be free for canadian?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Still free, but the PCR results are not guaranteed within 72 hours, unlike the NAAT (ID NOW at Walgreens).

  11. Franca B. Jamieson

    Hi Andrew, why can I not access the appointment page of Walgreens or other
    sites for tests from Canada? I have to go to the Buffalo airport to pick up my husband and don’t want to pay $100 for an hour in the States and not getting out of my car. So frustrating!
    Can your help? I need some info before March 3, 2022. Crossing at Rainbow Bridge from Canada to Niagara Falls, New York. Thanks Franca
    fbjamieson@cogeco.ca

    1. Fred king

      I live in Fort Erie..just went to the States today. Booked an appointment a week ago on my phone at walgreens in Niagara Falls NY. Did the IDNOW test..got my results within an hour and a half.

    2. Lloyd Coltman

      I’m thinking you are running into the same problem I experienced at first. I found later I hadn’t filled out ALL the selections, right to the very end of the page (it requires some selections to be repeated). When I realized I hadn’t completed all, and worked my way through the entire form, it worked just fine

    3. Jas

      Change the search location to the ZIP code of the airport. It should show you the available locations.

  12. Aevan

    This might be stupid question, after Feb 28 canada border will ease their restriction and will also accept rapid test, is Walgreen or do you have a list of laboratories accepted by Canadian borders.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Many places in the US offer free antigen tests too, the list of 7 in this post should get you one. But it’s better to do the free ID NOW (NAAT) at Walgreens at the beginning of the 72 hours despite the new option.

  13. David Colman

    We are in Hawaii. No antigen tests to be found. Although not free, we arranged for a remote antigen test with the same organization that did our outbound test at the airport (SRX). Cost $50 Canadian per. Saved a lot of time and effort.

  14. Dirk

    MYQuest diagnostics is using an identification verification process that is trying to match me to someone living in the US. I entered a US address as you instructed and that seems to be the problem. My new MyQuest account indicates that results will not be shared with me unless I verify my identity. One window popped up that indicated I could show ID upon arrival to verify my ID, but I fear MYQuest will be looking for the US citizen they think is associated with the AirBNB address I entered or some other tidbit… now I have an appointment but I suspect I won’t be able to access my results.

      1. Dirk

        MyQuest is the testing contractor for Walmart

      2. Dirk

        We managed to verify our account, so fingers crossed it all works out

      3. Andrew D'Amours

        Okay good, let us know. I’m guessing this is for a rapid antigen test post-February 28th?

      4. Dirk

        The is an asymptomatic PCR test. It is very difficult to select for antigen with a guaranteed quick turnaround. The US isn’t too concerned about us and our ever changing rules. The pricing is also no different for all tests (should you have to pay). PCR seems the safest, with a broader window of usefulness wrt border crossing.

      5. Andrew D'Amours

        Yeah definitely, given how easy free NAATs and PCRs are in the US, I’d keep using those for sure!

  15. George

    Hi Andrew! Does Walgreens have a limit on the number of tests permitted within a given period? We just arrived in Fort Lauderdale and wanted to get a PCR done in case it’s positive (we tested positive during the holidays). We are heading back home in 3 weeks time, so we want to make sure we could still get the test done 3 days before we leave.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi apparently once per 14 days limit per person, but this is just something someone told us, I didn’t validate. In all cases, 3 weeks should be fine — and if not, you can just use a different email address 😉

  16. Dan

    Antigen tests are now acceptable as well. Does anyone know if the testing procedure for a antigen test at Walgreens is similar to the naat test?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      No they are not “now” acceptable beware, it only starts February 28th. I haven’t looked into antigen tests in the USA yet, but I would say it’s probably best to keep doing the free NAAT in case it’s positive you make sure you can enter 10 days after the test (and since you can take it 3 days before, your countdown starts earlier too).

  17. Nicole

    Worked today in Knoxville TN at Walgreens. Results were back in 30 minutes.
    Two weeks ago I bought the Switch Health Lamp tests as All tests were very difficult to find in this area.
    I went to use them last night and both were defective so basically I was screwed.
    I found your post and it saved us from having to pay for tests(which two weeks ago I couldn’t do as there were not any available in the area!).
    I’ve been here all week and there are free tests galore, so everyone has been restocked.

    Note to everyone going to some areas of the USA – you may think all the areas of the country are the same with the same amenities etc, but this is not always the case. Do your research before you book. The SE USA is particularly different from traveling in the western USA or similar to Canada. Knoxville is “the sticks”, who’d have known :)?
    Happy traveling!

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, thank you so much for the testimonial! Just for future reference though, I doubt tests were really scarce 2 weeks ago, it’s really just that they often do not open up appointment slots until one week (or even just 3 days for many Walgreens locations) before the actual date.
      So it’s best to check in advance how early your specific Walgreens opens up appointments (easy to do on their website) and then make sure to be quick when that comes up. Never had an issue all 4 times by being prepared 🙂

  18. Kelly

    Hey there! With the new announcement, it indicates that rapid antigen tests are to be taken no more than 24 hours before return. Are we still able to do take the Rapid ID Now tests within 72 hours before return or do those now have to be done within 24 hours as well?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Yes 72 hours for those, the new option starting February 28th is just that: a new option available. You can still follow the same rules as now if you prefer, and that certainly makes more sense in the USA specifically thanks to these free tests 🙂

  19. Joanne

    Hi Andrew, with the new changes that are due to come in effect at the end of February, Canada may be eliminating the PCR testing requirement and switching to antigen testing for re-entry instead. What options do you see for Canadians under these circumstances, as Wallgreens BinaxNow tests are not widely available across the US?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      To be clear, nothing is confirmed at all, no changes are official at all, not even the date. But in the US it will still be very simple, the Walgreens ID NOW tests will be the easiest free option just like they are now 🙂

      1. Deepak

        It asks for a licence which i provided (canadian) but which state to choose.I am from BC and no option for it.

        Do they verify the license and should it be from usa

      2. Andrew D'Amours

        To be clear, they shouldn’t be asking to input license if you are not choosing the PCR and you shouldn’t be using the PCR if the NAAT (ID NOW) is available. If it’s not, for the PCR just choose the state where you’ll be in and put in the BC license number they don’t require US ID their form is just not built for other options.

  20. Jason

    Thanks Andrew for this info. What’s your thoughts on getting a free test as soon as you enter the US if your spending an extended period of time (say 2 weeks or more). Here’s my reasoning. I recovered from Covid a few weeks ago. So I fall into the category of being exempt if I have a positive pcr test from over 10 days prior. However, I never got the pcr test and I’ve heard it’s possible to continue to test positive weeks after recovering. So my thinking is that even though I’m recovered it would be a good idea for me to get tested early on. If it comes back positive then I’ll already be past the 10 days by the time I go back to the Canada border. If it’s negative then great. But if negative I’d have to go back and get a second one within 72 hours of crossing border. Or in other words, a positive test early on would save unwanted and expensive quarantine time in the US upon re-entry.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, that’s what I would certainly do.
      However, if you are leaving for less than 14 days, I did read about Walgreens limiting one person to only one test per 14-day period (didn’t check it out myself though so maybe confirm) so the first one on arrival I would do a free PCR anywhere else and keep the rapid ID NOW at Walgreens for the return in case the first one is negative.

  21. Gerry

    Thanks for the great info Andrew I went to the US for the day and used your tips to get back to Canada and it was flawless and worked fantastically!!! The Walgreens was very easy to book my rapid ID now test (NAAT) and the appointment was quick and convenient. I saved the cost of a Covid test which could be as we know 200-300 dollars. They didn’t ask for anything except for my federal/provincial ID and appointment confirmation email.

    Thanks for your help in simplifying what can be a very stressful crossing if your not aware of the rules and requirements.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi Gerry, so glad we could help you save money 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience and we really appreciate it if you want to share Flytrippers’ site or page on your social media to thank us, it helps us a lot 😉
      Hope you enjoyed your trip to the US 🙂!

  22. Amanda

    Hi, anyone know if a Canadian flying within the USA (example buffalo to orlando) do we need a covid test for those flights or just to cross back into Canada? Thanks

    1. Fred king

      Just did Buffalo to West Palm Beach in November.. no tests required..
      Just back into Canada. Got an IDNOW test in West Palm at Walgreens. Results within an hour and a half.

  23. Dan

    We tried this today at Walgreens in Alexandria, VA. We opted for the NAAT test. Worked as described. We had 3 appointments spaced apart. We showed up early, and they took our tests all together, right away, no problem. Just gave them our names, no ID needed. Results came in my email in 2 hours. Thanks for the tip!!

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi Dan, so glad we could help you save money 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience and we really appreciate it if you want to share Flytrippers’ site or page on your social media to thank us, it helps us a lot 😉
      Hope you enjoyed your trip to the DC area 🙂!

  24. Doug

    Hi Andrew,

    Just replying to add to the list of people thanking you for this information. We took your advice for a short trip to Vegas from Jan 20-23rd and it all worked as you described. Our trip was just under 72 hours, so we scheduled our Walgreens ID NOW test so that we took it shortly after landing. We did have to give a healthy tip to the Uber driver to wait in the line for us, but a small price to pay compared to other testing option prices. Walgreens pharmacist just asked to confirm our birth date and that was it…no other questions asked (obviously take your ID just in case). Results of the test were received by email within a couple hours and we were worry-free the rest of the trip. No issues at the airport with showing the results on our phone so it was all good…thanks again!

    Note: For those planning, keep a close eye on the Walgreens\CVS sites where you’re travelling, as we found that the appts book up fast and days in advance.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi Doug, so glad we could help you save money 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience and we really appreciate it if you want to share Flytrippers’ site or page on your social media to thank us, it helps us a lot 😉
      Hope you enjoyed your trip to Vegas 🙂!

  25. Claire

    Thank you so much for this precious information! However, nowhere is it mentioned how you get the test results into the ArriveCan App. We will soon be driving back to Canada from Florida. It’s a 3-day drive, so we will be getting the test on the road (pre-booked of course) to be under the 72 hour limit and still leave a buffer for possible travel delays. My cell phone doesn’t have US data so I have to rely on Wifi in hotels to access anything, and printers are out of the question! How will I get my test results into the App? The App unfortunately doesn’t have a “test” mode so we can see how it works ahead of needing it!

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, at least for me, they didn’t ask for the test proof in ArriveCAN the last 2 times I entered.

    2. Claire

      UPDATE: We got our tests done Feb. 2nd at a Walgreen’s in a small town in North Carolina. We were the first 2 appointments of the day (booked 3 days before) and got to the drive-thru window 10 minutes early. We were all done in 10 minutes (so even before the first appointment time), and the results were in our email 25 minutes later! THANK YOU!!! We were also lucky enough to BOTH be selected for random take-home tests when we crossed into Canada this afternoon! Can’t win them all!
      The only issue was thatI was not able to download the test results directly to my (old) iPhone, so I had to do it on my Chromebook and mail them to myself! Good thing because I was asked to show them to the border agent!

      1. Andrew D'Amours

        Hi Claire, so glad we could help you save money 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience and we really appreciate it if you want to share Flytrippers’ site or page on your social media to thank us, it helps us a lot 😉
        Hope you enjoyed your trip to North Carolina 🙂!

  26. Aldina

    I wonder what the turnaround for test results are now with the increase of covid cases!
    I’m traveling to New York in March and I want my result back on time

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Rapid NAATs are still under 24 hours for sure so no worries, but for PCRs yeah it was already tight with some free providers so just make sure to shop around and see what their timeline is :S

  27. David Colman

    Andrew, is the 72 hours from the time your flight is scheduled to leave the US or 72 hours from the time the flight is scheduled to arrive back in Canada?
    ALSO
    The Walgreens I’m looking at is a drive through. What do you do if you don’t have a car?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi here’s the explanation: https://flytrippers.com/canada-entry-test/#72-hour_timespan_for_entry_by_air

      And yes Walgreens only do drive-through and explicitly say you can’t go without a car, so you can go by taxi or Uber. Or you can check out the 7 websites we listed for free tests, as some do not require cars. But those will likely be PCRs instead of the rapid NAATs at Walgreens, so taxi is the best option (the whole process takes 5 minutes as I said so it won’t be expensive)

  28. Cathy F

    Hi,
    I have heard that some U.S. border guards are telling Canadians that it is a federal offence to get a free covid test in the U.S. as they are for citizens only. Do you know anything about this?
    Thanks

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      All I know is: that is 100% fake news 😛
      They might be saying that, but they’re very wrong. Free tests are explicitly for anyone and everyone. No requirements whatsoever.

      1. Alanna Johnson

        We were told that, as well as a friend, at the crossing in BC into Montana. We were both told that it is a federal offence for a Canadian to get a free test in the US. I hope you are correct.

      2. Andrew D'Amours

        I can guarantee that I am correct haha, it’s not even a grey area. There is simply no requirements and anyone who says otherwise is just misinformed, as sooooo many people are about sooooooo many things 🙂 Even border agents 😛

  29. Anthony

    I’m looking at testing options along the west coast (hwy I5–Washington to California) and it seems that Walgreens has next to nothing in terms of testing availability for their RapidID tests–what are your best recommendations for the west coast?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Yeah unfortunately the ID NOW is not available in some states, in that case, the 7 other websites we list in this post can help you.
      But those are all PCRs instead of NAATs so make sure to plan it very close to the beginning of your 72-hour window or try to look for those who have the shortest turnaround as it will be a bit tighter with free PCRs :S

      1. Anthony

        Thanks for the reply and info!

        I’m wondering about one thing–you’ve said to use your DL for ID purposes. That’ll work fine for my wife and I, but what about our kids? From what I understand, we’d need a separate booking for all of us?

      2. Andrew D'Amours

        I used my passport at Walgreens Sunday (the first time Walgreens actually asked to see my ID in 3 visits) and it’s fine, it’s just to identify you 🙂

    2. Dee dee

      Just got back.. you have to book 3days in advance at 12am to get an appointment.

      1. Andrew D'Amours

        Yeah but that depends on the location, some open up appointments 7 days in advance so it’s best to follow what I said in the post: Check which days are available for your location today so you know how many days in advance to book 🙂

  30. Stéphane

    Hi Andrew are you sure that CVS allowed canadians to get tested? Thank you

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      I did not personally use CVS for my 4 free US tests but many testimonials from Canadians say that it works too. The federal subsidy does not require citizenship or residency so it should work just as well as Walgreens.

      1. Stéphane

        Bonjour Andrew, si je suis vacciné 3 fois dois je attendre aux 72 heures et moins pour me faire tester avant d’arriver aux douanes terrestres? Je suis un peu mélangé la dessus Merci

    2. Tamara

      Hi Stephanie,

      Yes, I used it in Palm Springs. Results came back on time for a PCR as did Walgreens.

  31. Cezary

    Hello Andrew
    To book appointment at Walgreens they are asking now for driver licensee or state id. Of course only US states are listed and we cannot continue without filling this info. Any solution for that ?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      They don’t ask that if you choose the RAPID ID NOW test, which is the best one and the one I’ve used all 3 times (but not available in every state). For the PCR, they ask that but countless readers said they just selected the state they are in and entered their Canadian driver’s license number and had no issues, which makes a lot of sense since Walgreens really doesn’t care since there is no residency or citizenship requirement.

  32. Terrance

    Hi Andrew,

    I am going to fly back to Canada from Jersey City next week but it seems that there are no appointments available at Walgreen. Just wondering if you have any other suggestions? I looked at CVS but not sure if they have the NAAT tests and if the results will come back as quickly. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi other than the 7 websites in this post, the other alternative would be making your way across the Hudson as there are many walk-in tents in Manhattan that provide free tests, but since those are PCRs and I have not used them I have no idea how fast the turnaround is :S

      1. Stephane

        Hi Andrew,
        Have you heard of any issue with Walgreens running out of RAPID ID NOW test due to the current rate of testing and return time on the tests?

      2. Andrew D'Amours

        I’ve heard of appointment slots being more popular for sure, making it even more important now to follow our recommendations of booking as soon as the booking window opens. They might also have fewer appointments available overall, it’s hard to tell really since every location is independent :S

  33. John L

    Hey Andrew thanks so much for the post!

    We went on Walgreens website today to book a PCR test and now it requires you to fill out the dirvers license information. It looks like they have changed their policy.

    I have an appointment with CVS but my wife believes they’ll charge us if we dont provide insurance.

    Any thoguhts?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, they don’t ask that if you choose the RAPID ID NOW test, which is the best one and the one I’ve used all 3 times (but not available in every state).
      For the PCR, they have always asked for that but countless readers said they just selected the state they were in and entered their Canadian driver’s license number and had no issues, which makes a lot of sense since Walgreens really doesn’t care since there is no residency or citizenship requirement.

      1. Gareman

        Andrew thank you for your information, I just got my FREE ID now test (results came back in under 30 minutes!) my trip to Las Vegas is going great the mighty MetallicA played an amazing concert and am just now getting ready to go to the Golden Knight NHL game tonight. The only id I showed was my Sask drivers license and I used the hotel’s address no questions asked about my home address just given the pcr swab 30 minutes later my tests came back negative

      2. Andrew D'Amours

        Hi Gareman, so glad we could help you save money 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience and we really appreciate it if you want to share Flytrippers’ site or page on your social media to thank us, it helps us a lot 😉
        Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip to Vegas and the restriction-free life over there 🙂!

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