Easy Covid Testing for US-Bound Travelers Going to Machu Picchu
US-Bound travlers returning from Peru will find this info useful. The Peruano Suiza Clinic in Cusco offers PCR and Rapid Antigen tests for travelers returning to the US or other countries. I include links below to two clinics in Cusco as well as Unilab in Lima. As a tour operator who has been working with groups traveling to Peru since March, Adios Adventure Travel has experience assisting people with covid testing for US-bound flights.
Who can travel to Peru?
Whether you're vaccinated or not, all healthy people are welcome to enter Peru. Last week, Peru announced that vaccinated travelers no longer need to provide proof of negative covid test upon arrival in Lima. Unvaccinated travelers must show neg covid test to board their flight to Lima. Here's a link to our blog post that includes more details about arrival protocols in Peru.
Beginning January 26, 2021, the CDC requires all international travelers to test negative for covid before entering the US. Or they can provide proof that they recovered from Covid-19. I copied the exact content of the new policy from the CDC website below: (here's a link to the CDC website)
"All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the United States."
Travelers departing Cusco, Peru usually fly first to the Lima airport for a few hours before making their international connections. There is rapid testing in Lima airport but we have heard reports that there are a limited number of appointments available each day, which must be reserved online. This information could change, so it's worth it to check their website.
Are covid tests required for domestic flights in Peru?
No. Not at this time. Here's a link to our post about how to prepare to travel to Peru.
Can you travel to the US without a covid test if you have received the covid vaccination?
The word is that everyone, even vaccinated travelers, still need to provide a negative covid test to board your US-bound flight. At least until November 2021. Your airline should be able to provide exact details about the documents required for people who are unvaccinated, and those who have had the vaccine, as well as people who have recovered from covid.
CDC Checklist for Airlines to verify covid test results: (CLICK HERE to see the CDC PDF CHECKLIST)
According to the mandate for US-bound citizens, your airline is supposed to confirm your COVID-19 negative test results (documentation of recovery from COVID-19 is also accepted) before boarding.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a checklist for airlines to verify test results. For instance, the guidelines state that travelers who present a negative COVID-19 test are subject to meeting five requirements:
- The test must be a viral test, such as a nucleic acid amplification (NAAT) or antigen.
- The test must be negative.
- The test must also include where the test was performed and the name and contact information of the lab or healthcare provider who performed the test.
- The test must be collected three days or less before flight departure to the U.S.
- The test must include information that identifies the person and must have the person’s name and at least one additional identifier such as date of birth or passport number.
Where can you get covid test in Cusco? We have it right here:
Clínica Peruano Suiza
Grupo Peruano Suiza
Av. Perú K-3 - Urb. Quispicanchis
Cusco - Perú
Telefonos: +51.84.242 114 | +51.84.237 009 | +51.84.237 168
I advise travelers to review and understand the full details and descriptions of covid tests accepted by your international airline. It's easy to take a taxi from the city center to the Peruano Suiza clinic. It's best if you can call in advance and set up an appointment. While the clinic is open 24 hours a day every day, keep in mind that the laboratory may not be open all the time. (usually 72 hours is the window for getting the covid test before boarding your flight). Be careful if you need tests on a Sunday. Check ahead to see if they offer it. Don't expect people to speak English at the clinic or over the phone. There's nothing wrong with asking your hotel reception to call the clinic for you and arrange a taxi.
Covid Tests. Clinics offer PCR and Rapid antigen test. The PCR test may require 24 hours to obtain results. The medical staff will take a swab and have the results ready by the next day, (although one of our clients who used the service reported that the covid test certificate was issued later on the same day the test was conducted.) The antigen test results can be ready in less than 2 hours.
You should get an electronic report, and you can go in person to pick up a hard copy. Payment can be made with a credit card. Visa credit cards are most widely accepted in Peru. Like most of Peru, cash is always best.
Can you get a covid test if your hotel is located in the Sacred Valley?
I'm not aware of any hotels in the Sacred Valley that offer covid testing for US-bound travelers. It takes at least one if not two hours by car from some hotels in the Sacred Valley to get to Cusco. It's a matter of organizing your logistics to get to one of the clinics in Cusco who offer the tests. Our company is assisting our groups by arranging itineraries that allow proximity and time for getting the tests done in Cusco. And our local guides are helping our groups with phone calls and transportation. Ask your tour operator or your hotel to help you. If you still need help, I can put you in touch with our team in Cusco. See more below.
Another group of clinics in Cusco:
Choose from several locations on their contact page
Phone:(+51 84) 231718
Pardo clinics have walk-in service. But our guide in Cusco recommends that you call in advance just to confirm how long it might take.
Assistance to and from the clinics in Cusco.
You can always ask your hotel to help you. Or I can put you in touch with our manager in Cusco who can assist you with transporation, phone calls and anything else you need. You shouldn't need a translator but if you feel like you want one, just ask. The cost for the covid test is around $150 USD for PCR and $50 for Rapid Antigen (subject to change) and does not include transportation. Since March, we've been arranging trips to the clinics for our groups on the day they fly to Lima to return home. We ask them to allow 4 hours in the morning in Cusco to go to the clinic and get the test, then wait for results which can take up to 2 hours. If you have an early flight out of Cusco you may want to visit the clinic the day before. Here's what we need to know: how many people, name/address of your hotel, date & time of your flight to Lima. Contact: email@example.com The cost will depend on what you need. You can pay our manager in Cusco directly, which is a great way to support the local economy.
Can you get covid test in Lima airport?
Unilab Services at Lima Airport states they are open from 5am - 17:00pm every day. Usually an appointment is needed which can be made from the link I included below. Clinics in the city offer both PCR and antigen. The city is at least a 45 minute drive each way from the Lima airport. Although there is luggage storage at Lima airport near the international arrivals area, I have heard that it is currently closed. Unless you're spending a couple of days in Lima city center, it might be more reliable and convenient to get the test in Cusco before you fly down to Lima.
Unilab Clinic Locations and Appointments
Choose from serveral locations
Can you use the new Abbott BinaxNow Covid-19 AG card Home Test to board your US-Bound flight? (After I first posted - See note below for updated info)
The self-administered covid test procedure is just emerging and here's what I know. Abbott and United Airlines have partnered to offer this test for people flying on United Airlines. If you have WIFI and phone service at your foreign location, the home test appears to be the most convenient way to meet the requirement for travelers returning to the US. However it does not appear to be compatible with all airlines. "The Points Guy" recently reviewed the test and posted his story which I think is very useful. He says American Airlines and United are the only 2 airlines who have approved the new test. Follow this link to read his step by step description.
NOTE: I just saw a report from "View From The Wing" / Gary Leff on August 7 that says that the Binax/Now self-test system is overloaded and "melting down." People have reported waiting up to 6 hours to get the "Certified Guide" to oversee their testing.
The Points Guy also reviewed another new self-administered covid test called Ellume.
Here is the link to read the step by step review of the Ellume home covid test. I found this to be very informative. The one thing missing is that it doesn't indicate which US airlines are accepting the test.
Personally I wouldn't risk using self-administered covid tests unless I had it in writing from my international airline that the test is accepted. I've read that you should bring several kits in case you need to re-test. If you decide to try it and it fails, you can always use the clinics in Cusco as your backup as long as you have the time.
I'm providing this information as a courtesy. Please double check everything before you make any decisions about traveling. Things are changing faster than a falling star in the night sky.