Our Experience with COVID Testing in the US

We drove to the States last week for the first time in 3 years!

Crossing the Peace Bridge

Here was our experience entering the US, taking a COVID test, and coming back to Canada.

To enter the US by car, you need to be fully vaccinated and no testing is required.

If staying in the US for less than 72 hours, you don’t need a test to go back to Canada. We stayed in New Jersey for 6 days…

Screenshot is taken from travel.gc.ca showing NAAT test as an acceptable form of test

To experiment, we booked a PCR test for one of us, and a NAAT test for the other – both at Walgreens. The NAAT test is called “ID NOW” on the Walgreens website. Both tests were free. To book the appointment, we had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire where we had to provide a US address. You can put your hotel’s address or a family/friend’s address. No one verified the address. We suggest booking at least 5 days in advance as the slots get booked up.

We went to our appointments at the Walgreen drive-thru where an associate gave instructions on how to do the test on ourselves. We only had to show a piece of ID; it didn’t have to be a passport. No one verified the US address that was on our appointment.

At the drive-thru at Walgreens

NAAT (ID NOW) results came in within the hour, but we waited and waited for the PCR one. Walgreens said it would take up to 3 business days. Technically, the website says the NAAT test can take up to 24 hours for the results but we got ours in an hour.

It was the day to head back home and we still hadn’t received the PCR test (it had been 3 days since taking the PCR test). We decided to book a last-minute NAAT test at a Walgreens that was on the route home. The results came an hour later.

We filled out the ArriveCAN app and entering back to Canada was a smooth process.

Test Results of NAAT test, says under “Test Ordered”

We received the PCR test results over 24 hours after we were already home. It had been way past the required 72 hours before arrival at the border. 

If you’re planning to travel to the US for more than 72 hours, we highly recommend getting the NAAT test as it’s a fully acceptable test, and had no issues with it at the border. It saved our butts!

Note: The NAAT test is not available at Walgreens in California.

If you have questions about requirements for COVID tests and need more information, we would be happy to help you! Email us at farah@nextdeparture.ca

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