Covid Testing Timing for trip to South Africa

postoak

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I have a flight to S.A. this Saturday, the 31st July. The question in the title was already asked for Namibia but we need our own thread for S.A.

What day do I need to get the test? My local Walgreens said 2-4 day results for the PCR test which could put me in trouble if I select the wrong day to get tested.
 

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I have a flight to S.A. this Saturday, the 31st July. The question in the title was already asked for Namibia but we need our own thread for S.A.

What day do I need to get the test? My local Walgreens said 2-4 day results for the PCR test which could put me in trouble if I select the wrong day to get tested.
Within 72 hrs of wheels up. Suspect you have a nearby clinic that will guarantee 24hr service. For a fee of course. ;)
 

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Dependent on location, there are many venues besides chain drug stores that have same day results. My 2¢, I'd bypass Walgreen's or any of that stripe.
 

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People think it is 72 hours from wheels up and that is not according to the CDC or the airlines. It is within three days of departure.
If you depart on Friday, no matter the hour & minute on Friday, then the test can be given on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, at any hour & minute of those days.
The local CVS stores in San Antonio will have the results in 12 to 18 hours, typically closer to 12.
We got tested once in Botswana before we left heading to South Africa. Results in 12 hours by email. We got tested again in South Africa before we left to return to the States, again, we received the results by email in 12 hours.
And CVS is free of charge, or at least we did not pay anything and I am not aware of them charging my insurance.
There are exceptions to every rule of course.

Directly from the CDC website:

"Why does the Order specify 3 days rather than 72 hours? What is considered 3 days?
The 3-day period is the 3 days before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 3-day timeframe instead of 72 hours to provide more flexibility to the traveler. By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test was administered.

For example, if a passenger’s flight is at 1pm on a Friday, the passenger could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Tuesday or after."
 

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Check for private clinics with quick turnaround, 30 minutes. More airports are also having clinics either inside or just offsite for rapid PCR-RT test analysis.
 

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People think it is 72 hours from wheels up and that is not according to the CDC or the airlines. It is within three days of departure.
If you depart on Friday, no matter the hour & minute on Friday, then the test can be given on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, at any hour & minute of those days.
The local CVS stores in San Antonio will have the results in 12 to 18 hours, typically closer to 12.
We got tested once in Botswana before we left heading to South Africa. Results in 12 hours by email. We got tested again in South Africa before we left to return to the States, again, we received the results by email in 12 hours.
And CVS is free of charge, or at least we did not pay anything and I am not aware of them charging my insurance.
There are exceptions to every rule of course.

Directly from the CDC website:

"Why does the Order specify 3 days rather than 72 hours? What is considered 3 days?
The 3-day period is the 3 days before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 3-day timeframe instead of 72 hours to provide more flexibility to the traveler. By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test was administered.

For example, if a passenger’s flight is at 1pm on a Friday, the passenger could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Tuesday or after."

This is correct/true.. but it also relies on Airline clerks and airport security personnel knowing the rules..

When we arrived in SA on the 17th, they were barely paying attention to the COVID tests.. basically just looking for the word "negative" on them and then letting people pass.. You could have taken the test 3 months ago and they wouldnt have known or cared..

But when we departed 2 days ago, the clerk at the Qatar counter actually looked at the time/date stamp and even went so far as to annunciate the time and day I took the test for coming home, and said the words "within 72 hours. you are ok"..
 

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People think it is 72 hours from wheels up and that is not according to the CDC or the airlines. It is within three days of departure.
If you depart on Friday, no matter the hour & minute on Friday, then the test can be given on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, at any hour & minute of those days.
The local CVS stores in San Antonio will have the results in 12 to 18 hours, typically closer to 12.
We got tested once in Botswana before we left heading to South Africa. Results in 12 hours by email. We got tested again in South Africa before we left to return to the States, again, we received the results by email in 12 hours.
And CVS is free of charge, or at least we did not pay anything and I am not aware of them charging my insurance.
There are exceptions to every rule of course.

Directly from the CDC website:

"Why does the Order specify 3 days rather than 72 hours? What is considered 3 days?
The 3-day period is the 3 days before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 3-day timeframe instead of 72 hours to provide more flexibility to the traveler. By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test was administered.

For example, if a passenger’s flight is at 1pm on a Friday, the passenger could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Tuesday or after."
Be careful. Check your documents. My Ethiopian flight in less than 2 weeks specifies within 48 hours. Check your documents.
 

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I used a private testing center that had a less than 24 hour option, they even asked me about my trip and said they would keep some of my sample so if something went wrong they could ensure I had a test back. Was around $200 cash, which is nothing compared to screwing up your trip.
 

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To be safe, do it 2 days before leaving. I did my 3 days and I got the one person in charge of the line in South Africa who couldn't do basic math, I was held in the "holding area" and missed my connecting flight.
 

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My children's pediatrician offered PCR testing with results in 1-hr. One of my boys had to take one for the team. The deal was, if the 'family' is traveling, the parents may be tested for $100 each and the children are free. We took our test on July 6 and departed July 7 with results less than 24-hrs old. Point-Check with your family practitioner. Some of them have purchased their own PCR machines to perform the tests themselves.
 

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I have a flight to S.A. this Saturday, the 31st July. The question in the title was already asked for Namibia but we need our own thread for S.A.

What day do I need to get the test? My local Walgreens said 2-4 day results for the PCR test which could put me in trouble if I select the wrong day to get tested.
You need to get one that guarantees 24 report back. It will cost you but worth it. I paid $199 bucks but I had it with time to spare. Left on a Saturday and got the test Thursday afternoon. Had results back Friday Afternoon. Fully satisfying SA 72 hour requirements.
good luck.
 

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I flew into SA on July 11th. SA requires the test within 72 hours. To get back into the USA it’s 3 calendar days. Every country is different even when it appears to be the same.
 

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I paid extra for the quick turn around test. If the company says results in 2-3 days, that is a gamble. This is an example where extra money for a guaranteed time of result is money well spent. Do not risk a mess up.
We tested to go into Namibia, then again to go into Zambia, then again to go into Botswana, then again to return home. Unfortunately 4 tests for 4 people adds up, so expect that travel insurance covid year is more expensive. What you spend on testing is more than made up for in the lack of other people traveling.
 

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People think it is 72 hours from wheels up and that is not according to the CDC or the airlines. It is within three days of departure.
If you depart on Friday, no matter the hour & minute on Friday, then the test can be given on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, at any hour & minute of those days.
The local CVS stores in San Antonio will have the results in 12 to 18 hours, typically closer to 12.
We got tested once in Botswana before we left heading to South Africa. Results in 12 hours by email. We got tested again in South Africa before we left to return to the States, again, we received the results by email in 12 hours.
And CVS is free of charge, or at least we did not pay anything and I am not aware of them charging my insurance.
There are exceptions to every rule of course.

Directly from the CDC website:

"Why does the Order specify 3 days rather than 72 hours? What is considered 3 days?
The 3-day period is the 3 days before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 3-day timeframe instead of 72 hours to provide more flexibility to the traveler. By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test was administered.

For example, if a passenger’s flight is at 1pm on a Friday, the passenger could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Tuesday or after."
This is not necessarily correct. It may well be for the US (where CDC has jurisdiction) but outside the US, you need to check.

For example, the Government of Canada says you need a test no more than 72 hours prior to your departure for Canada. They never use days. They go so far as to say if you have connecting flights, the test must be no older than 72 hours prior to the last direct flight leaving for Canada - this may require testing at an intermediate point (see: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/t...ovid-19-testing-travellers-coming-into-canada).

To get back to the OP's original question, South Africa never mentions three days either, but they say the test must be "not more than 72 hours before the date of travel." (https://www.gov.za/covid-19/individuals-and-households/travel-coronavirus-covid-19).

The problem is that this language isn't clear. Does "72 hours before the date of travel" means the same thing as the "time of travel"? I don't know. So what to do? Given the seeming randomness of checks, and the various interpretations which can be put on the rules, the only safe bet is to take the most restrictive reading and comply with that.

You do not want to have to argue with someone at an airport. Even if you're right, you may miss your flight or your entire trip if they refuse to budge. I've found being right almost never matters when dealing with authorities.

There cannot be a testing facility in the world which is unaware of the 72 hour rule. Unbelievable that Walgreens would say 2-4 days. As others have said, you could count back 72 hours, and add some hours for a margin of safety - if you time it exactly right for departure and your plane is an hour late taking off, you could have a problem at the airport, although some countries specify you count from the "scheduled" departure time, although this wouldn't necessarily be binding on the country you are travelling to.

When I flew to JNB in April I had the test done two days before departure and had the result in about 20 hours. So I had a day and some of grace. I arrived at JNB at around 4.30 am from Doha, and there wan't a soul there who wanted to look at a piece of paper, let alone talk to me about COVID. The sleepy woman at immigration had no interest. But I wouldn't count on that.

So I would count back 48 hours from my departure, and get a test which guarantees a 24 hour turnaround or better. That's what I did, and it gave me one less thing to worry about.
 

Dee S

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I believe the original post was for departing the US?
When we landed in Joburg, the first guy couldn't do the math and called over the supervisor, she looked at the papers and told him they are within the three days, they are good, and we went through. But there are idiots in abundance.
 

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I know some people that got two tests, just for insurance. First test, 3 days before departure and had the results to get on the plane in the US. Second test, a day before departure and had the results by the time they landed in JNB.
 

Andy Koontz

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I have a flight to S.A. this Saturday, the 31st July. The question in the title was already asked for Namibia but we need our own thread for S.A.

What day do I need to get the test? My local Walgreens said 2-4 day results for the PCR test which could put me in trouble if I select the wrong day to get tested.
I just returned a few days ago. Walgreens was great and I got my PCR results in less than 24 hours. I was leaving on Friday and tested on Wednesday. The test didn’t cost me anything and the results were emailed to me in time to print it out. I had a print out and a screenshot Saved on my phone. My uncles had theirs on their phones, but didn’t have a print out nor a screenshot. They had trouble and had to get their phones on the WiFi (I don’t recommend). I was through in 2-3 minutes and it took them about 15 minutes. Coming back wasn’t too bad. We lost a morning of hunting as we had to drive just over an hour each way to get tested. We had to use our PHs phone number for results and our passport number for identification (I didn’t want to use my SSN). It worked out good. If you have a result not returned, the rapid test at Tambo will work for reentry into the US. I hope none of you are flying through Newark (EWR). The Customs/TSA weapons checks are a clown show and you will miss any flight that is within 2-3 hours of arrival. It took me nearly 5 hours (no issues) and then, due to a cancelled flight, after 15 hours at EWR they didn’t even load my firearm on the plane. United Airlines delivered it about 36 hours later.
Takeaway points: 1- COVID testing isn’t that bad, don’t stress. Walgreens was great. 2- If you don’t get a return test, the rapid test at Tambo will work for reentry to the USA. It just sucks because you pay for two tests. 3 EWR and United Airlines suck and I will definitely pay more not to go through EWR or fly United again.
 

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