How Do I Get a Doctor’s Letter to Travel Abroad?

Written by Dr. Ryner Lai
June 21, 2021

In this article, we will be looking specifically at getting a doctor’s letter to travel abroad due to Covid-19 restrictions. You can learn more about “Fit to Fly” certificates which are specific to certain countries like Thailand here

As countries around the world slowly roll out their vaccination program, the risk profile of each country is an ever-changing picture, and you should always check the conditions of entry of your travel destination on official websites before making travel arrangements. 

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the government’s official source for Covid-19 related news. It provides detailed information on Covid-19, as well as the vaccines that have been approved for public use. 

Getting Tested Before Travel  

As of 18 April 2021, the CDC recommends that travelers get tested with a Covid-19 viral test no more than 3 days before traveling [this has since been updated to no more than 1 day]. Please note that a Covid-19 viral test is different from a Covid-19 antibody test, so please specify the type of test you need from your physician. Antibody tests are generally not used to test fo an acute infection and are not (yet) accepted for travel. 

You are advised to wait for your Covid-19 test results before you travel. This means that if you don’t have your test back before your travel date, you should postpone your traveling arrangements. 

Note that current government protocols dictate that all air passengers arriving in the United States must have a negative Covid-19 test result or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 before you are allowed to board a plane. This protocol also applies to U.S. citizens. 

If you test negative, please be sure to keep your test results as they may be required as proof at the airport. Even if you test negative for Covid-19, it is still important for you to do your part to prevent the spread of the virus, which includes wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands regularly. You can still contract and pass on Covid-19 even with a negative result. 

If you test positive, you should cancel or postpone your travel plans and self-isolate. Public health recommendations on the length of time you should self-isolate differ, but generally it is between 5 to 10 days (the latter for more symptomatic people with ongoing fevers). During self-isolation, remember to avoid close contact with anybody living in your household and practice strict hygiene. 

Can I Travel with a Positive Covid-19 Test?

But what if you already had a Covid-19 infection in the last 3 months and still test positive? That is a known dilemma as a Covid-19 PCR or antigen test can be positive for up to 3 months after an infection. For these cases, the CDC now allows returning to the US with a positive COVID test, if it is accompanied by a physician-signed Document of Recovery, which states that the passenger has met the self-isolation requirements and is thus safe to travel. The usual duration of self-quarantine is 5-10 days, depending on symptoms. If a passenger had a positive Covid-19 test but no symptoms, then they need to wait 5 days until they can travel. In that case, they will need their positive Covid-19 test and the Document of Recovery by a licensed doctor.

Getting A Doctor’s Letter with QuickMD 

If you require a doctor’s note to certify that you have recovered from Covid-19 and are no longer contagious (Documentation of Recovery), you can book a virtual consultation with a physician within 72 hours before your scheduled travel date.

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