a blue passport with gold text on it

I’ve flown internationally more than a handful of times over the last year or so, crossing borders in Europe, the UK and USA with pretty regular frequency. In the beginning, covid-19 testing was simply awful. The worst.

It wasn’t just the scarcity of reliable testing suited for travel, but also the costs and confusion at every turn. A few months ago, a lot changed, as more countries began to accept antigen tests prior to departure, rather than PCR tests. But still: where, when?

When the answer is whenever you like, wherever you are, travel becomes a lot more fun. Thanks to the Abbott Labs BinaxNOW test, in collaboration with eMed, that’s a reality. Here’s everything you need to know.

Covid-19 Travel Testing Wherever, Whenever

Abbott Labs and eMed solved two key pain points in testing, as they concern travel. You may know where to get a test near home, but what about when you’re in another country? Even if so, how much?

The US CDC mandates that all international arrivals into the USA must have an antigen or PCR test taken within 3 days of departure, so for the time being, every person flying into the USA needs a test.

a blue passport with gold text on it

The eMed x Abbott Labs solution allows you to buy the tests before you leave the USA, take the test with you on vacay, and actually take the test yourself, wherever you are – even poolside, or at dinner! Alarm bells ringing? Not even!

The key is that eMed has a video practitioner help guide you through the test. They check your ID, ensure the test had not been opened prior to the video chat, make sure its actually you taking the nasal swab, and confirm the result via your smartphone or computer camera! There’s even a QR code to ensure the process is digitally seamless.

For countries, this helps eliminate the risk of testing fraud, which is why the test is approved by the CDC.

For their part, eMed and Abbott are careful to position the test as one mostly intended for entry into the USA, but it’s worth noting that as of the time of writing, it satisfies the requirements for pre-departure testing into the UK and many European countries that are currently accepting antigen tests for entry, among others.

a close up of a book

It’s Just So Easy, Really

I write this as a buyer and user of the Abbott BinaxNOW x eMed tests. I’m a fan. One added reason? The clinicians to supervise the test are available on demand.

I didn’t even need to make an appointment to take the test. I just logged into my eMed account, which is then linked to the Navica app, and pressed “start test”. A test clinician then introduced themselves within seconds, and I’ve tested this at varying hours of the night, without fail!

From there, you remove the swab, put a few drops in a hole, move the swab around your nose, put the swab in the solution and then wait 15 minutes for the result.

I bought two of the (6) packs currently sold on eMed at a cost of $150 per six pack. These tests are allowing my family to move freely around the globe, not worrying about varying access to health services in foreign countries, or needing to make our way to testing centers prior to travel.

I took a test just yesterday with the test and computer on my bed, while I packed a suitcase. It’s the least hassle I’ve seen in unlocking international travel, and at a cost of $25 per test, it’s really not going to be prohibitive to many people who are traveling internationally in the first place.

If you’re even considering an international trip, this is by far the easiest solution to safely satisfy international travel requirements, or return to the United States. Other similar solutions exist elsewhere, but my understanding is that these tests are only sold in the USA right now, but are available with overnight shipping from eMed.

Again, you can just pack them and take them with you wherever you go, whenever you go – and someone will help get you your results just about any time of day. This really is the game changer travel needed, and it might be for a long time to come.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. It’s not clear from the linked website or your post – is this a rapid antigen test or a PCR test? I think this is worth noting as countries like Canada won’t accept the former.

  2. Amazon.com is now selling BinaxNOW antigen tests for $19.88 per two-test box. Would these work for international travel, too?

  3. This feels like paid content. I’m sorry if it isn’t, but it’s all just a little ‘over the top’ positive.

    1. It’s the US equivalent. I wrote about Qured when it first came out and have been a strong proponent of their LFD test. The Abbott Test was first to market.

  4. Can one family use a pack of six? Traveling with my mom and wondering if we need two 6 packs

  5. That does sound great. Can you split the 6 packs between different people in different families, or needs to be used by the buyer and his family on the same trip?

  6. Do you know if you can add someone after purchase- eg I didn’t register one of the people who would be using before purchasing.

  7. I have bought the test kit in preparation for my travel to Iceland.

    Do you know the procedure if the test comes positive? Are we required to notify Icelandic authorities or self-isolate?


  8. Hi, On the eMed site it now warns that not all airlines have accepted this test. Can you please tell us which airlines you have used it with? We are taking an Air France flight next month to come home to the US and not sure if we can use this test. When I called eMed they said the US carriers accept it, but other unnamed airlines have refused the test to return home.

    1. I’ve never encountered an airline which doesn’t accept it. I’ve used it on multiple international airlines. It’s legally valid by US authorities, so an airline would be dumb not to.

  9. Hi! Do you know if BA accepts this? I’ve been told it only works for US based airlines. Thanks!

  10. Have you used this to satisfy entry requirements flying INTO the uk and not just into the us? Would be really helpful to know. Thanks

  11. Two things stopping travel :-

    A) Government restrictions. These have to be sorted ASAP as the virus is not going away. Why are some countries just closed, not even quarantine available.

    B) The hassle and cost of testing – this solution at least helps start to sort this issue.

    I think testing needs to be done at the airports and the economies of scale there, will make them very cheap (and move away the rip off PCR testing companies). This is such an obvious solution that the out of touch John Holland-Kaye should have done at Heathrow a year ago (and not at the ridiculous £150 he originally quoted – they need to be c.£10 per person).

    Take the hassle out of testing and people will use your airport and travel.

  12. Hi, this was a really useful article and we successfully used the Abbott BinaxNOW tests back in September for a UK/US trip based on your recommendation. Thank you. Do you have any updates as to if these tests are still valid now that the guidance for both countries has changed?

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