Travel

Free / Cheap / Quick - Covid PCR / NAAT test in U.S. cities for Canadians returning to Canada

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 12th, 2022 3:23 pm
Deal Fanatic
Jan 12, 2005
5053 posts
1695 upvotes
Mississauga
It looks like CVS has updated their website that if you are testing for travelling as it does not qualify anymore. I was able to book an appointment last week, but when I checked this week, they changed up the questions. $139 for volunteering testing. Walgreens is still ok for booking.
Member
Feb 24, 2019
459 posts
725 upvotes
How much did you guys have to pay for a doctor's note that says you have a PCR tested positive? My doctor's secretary says there's a cost for that but... she doesnt know the cost.
Deal Addict
Dec 14, 2011
1855 posts
1028 upvotes
London
GateGuardian wrote: It looks like CVS has updated their website that if you are testing for travelling as it does not qualify anymore. I was able to book an appointment last week, but when I checked this week, they changed up the questions. $139 for volunteering testing. Walgreens is still ok for booking.
This is concerning. We booked our test at least a week ago. Hopefully it is still free and not $139 each.
Deal Addict
Dec 14, 2011
1855 posts
1028 upvotes
London
KingMoobot wrote: How much did you guys have to pay for a doctor's note that says you have a PCR tested positive? My doctor's secretary says there's a cost for that but... she doesnt know the cost.
It probably varies. My doctor (useless weirdo) charges $20 cash for any one page note.
Member
Feb 24, 2019
459 posts
725 upvotes
Drakestar wrote: It probably varies. My doctor (useless weirdo) charges $20 cash for any one page note.
lol @ "cash". corrupt ass doctors...
Deal Addict
Dec 14, 2011
1855 posts
1028 upvotes
London
Okay. We crossed into Port Huron today. Got the PCR/NAAT at CVS. It was free. Thanks Uncle Sam. Trudeau is still a fer though.
Sr. Member
Aug 15, 2018
538 posts
272 upvotes
City: Houston, TX

Name of lab/organization: Walgreens

Type of tests available: ID-NOW

Cost: Free

Approximate processing time (stated vs. actual): 24hrs stated - actual was 1hr.
Deal Addict
Dec 14, 2011
1855 posts
1028 upvotes
London
Drakestar wrote: Okay. We crossed into Port Huron today. Got the PCR/NAAT at CVS. It was free. Thanks Uncle Sam. Trudeau is still a fer though.
So, it took 36 hours to get the results back. We ended uphaving to call CVS and had them email the results. Apparently they flew our swabs from Port Huron (probaby Detroit) to San Diego for testing. All worked out well. Border was a breeze and was able to snag two bottles (1.14L) of Jim Beam for $14 USD each.

Happy Travels!
P.S. if you are ever in Chicago, try and hit Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo. Expensive, but amazing.
Member
User avatar
Jan 2, 2006
239 posts
165 upvotes
Toronto
City: San Mateo, California

Name of lab/organization:
https://virusgeeks.com/
They have multiple locations in most of major US Cities You book online and and chose your preferred location (for San Mateo alone I could chose any of four available)

Type of tests available: ID-NOW

Cost: Free

Approximate processing time (stated vs. actual): 1-3 days - actual was less than 24hr.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Jul 22, 2007
7264 posts
7056 upvotes
Calgary
calexicoca wrote: City: San Mateo, California

Name of lab/organization:
https://virusgeeks.com/
They have multiple locations in most of major US Cities You book online and and chose your preferred location (for San Mateo alone I could chose any of four available)

Type of tests available: ID-NOW

Cost: Free

Approximate processing time (stated vs. actual): 1-3 days - actual was less than 24hr.
Their online form requests American ID?
Deal Addict
Oct 8, 2007
1564 posts
479 upvotes
Bedford
Just saw a Global news report saying that the town of Calais Maine is offering free PCR testing to Canadians returning to Canada. Seems they missed the Canadian Plates and are doing this to encourage Canadians to cross in their town.
Deal Addict
Jan 1, 2017
1748 posts
1727 upvotes
How do you get tested at Walgreens or CVS without a car? I thought I saw on their websites that they only do drive-through testing.

Anyone get tested in the Chicago area?
Member
Aug 19, 2015
284 posts
239 upvotes
Ajax, ON
ProductGuy wrote: How do you get tested at Walgreens or CVS without a car? I thought I saw on their websites that they only do drive-through testing.

Anyone get tested in the Chicago area?
Uber!
Moderator
User avatar
Sep 21, 2004
10989 posts
5827 upvotes
Calgary
ProductGuy wrote: How do you get tested at Walgreens or CVS without a car? I thought I saw on their websites that they only do drive-through testing.

Anyone get tested in the Chicago area?
Uber/lyft and tip well because you will spend 20 minutes in the drive thru and the driver is not able to pick up new fares.
Deal Addict
Jan 1, 2017
1748 posts
1727 upvotes
b166er1337 wrote: Uber/lyft and tip well because you will spend 20 minutes in the drive thru and the driver is not able to pick up new fares.
Thanks for the advice. Did you set up the drive through as mid-destination on Uber? What did you set up on the app.
Newbie
User avatar
Jan 1, 2021
86 posts
52 upvotes
ProductGuy wrote: Thanks for the advice. Did you set up the drive through as mid-destination on Uber? What did you set up on the app.
I’m also looking for that one. Also maybe short term rentals like zipcar might be a good choice.
Member
Mar 12, 2015
266 posts
243 upvotes
North York, ON
ProductGuy wrote: Thanks for the advice. Did you set up the drive through as mid-destination on Uber? What did you set up on the app.
I might be able to help here. I did a covid test at the Walgreens located at 501 W ROOSEVELT RD, Chicago in July 2021. Took the subway to Roosevelt station, then transferred to an Uber. Used the "add a stop" option in Uber to select the Walgreens location as a stop, with my final destination back at the subway station. Told the driver my intention to take a covid test for travel and he was fine with the arrangement. The line-up at the drive through plus the time it took to take the test was about 10-15mins long. The cab fare in total including USD5 tip was about USD15.
Newbie
Oct 18, 2013
57 posts
47 upvotes
Just returned yesterday (Feb.4/22) from our road trip to Florida... caution on the free CVS pharmacy Covid tests in Florida.

We booked and submitted specimens for the free CVS pharmacy Covid testing in St Augustine Florida. Unfortunately, there were reporting and timeframe testing issues!!! CVS specifies an average of 1-3 days (or longer) for reporting results.

1) We didn't receive a text or email result after 48hrs. from the time of specimen collection and we were hoping to get a report by then. Tried their CVS Care website to get the status of the tests but were unable to register. Called their Toll free # (only available from 8am-6pm) and 2 hrs later we finally got 1 result which was negative (faxed to our hotel) but the other sample was still pending. We were planning to cross the Canadian border in 9 hrs. so timing and updating the ArriveCan app was an issue. Found out our CVS store does not have onsite testing so their specimens are sent out for testing. Never obtained a text or email report from CVS.

2) Lucky we had bought a few Switch Health RT-Lamp tests as a back up plan. Had to use a PCR LAMP test via tele conference and had a negative result within 1 hr.

Like all true RFD's, I followed the previous threads about the free Covid PCR NAAT testing and quick results which sounded great! But complications can become stressfull and glad we had a back up plan to get home.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 4, 2004
6935 posts
3525 upvotes
Ottawa
maryray wrote: Just returned yesterday (Feb.4/22) from our road trip to Florida... caution on the free CVS pharmacy Covid tests in Florida.

We booked and submitted specimens for the free CVS pharmacy Covid testing in St Augustine Florida. Unfortunately, there were reporting and timeframe testing issues!!! CVS specifies an average of 1-3 days (or longer) for reporting results.

1) We didn't receive a text or email result after 48hrs. from the time of specimen collection and we were hoping to get a report by then. Tried their CVS Care website to get the status of the tests but were unable to register. Called their Toll free # (only available from 8am-6pm) and 2 hrs later we finally got 1 result which was negative (faxed to our hotel) but the other sample was still pending. We were planning to cross the Canadian border in 9 hrs. so timing and updating the ArriveCan app was an issue. Found out our CVS store does not have onsite testing so their specimens are sent out for testing. Never obtained a text or email report from CVS.

2) Lucky we had bought a few Switch Health RT-Lamp tests as a back up plan. Had to use a PCR LAMP test via tele conference and had a negative result within 1 hr.

Like all true RFD's, I followed the previous threads about the free Covid PCR NAAT testing and quick results which sounded great! But complications can become stressfull and glad we had a back up plan to get home.
I think there have been several reports that CVS can be slower and the general consensus is that Walgreens is much more reliable.

Also you have to make sure you get the proper test. You refer to PCR NAAT test - this does not exist: You either get NAAT or you get PCR. They are two different tests. PCR is typical 36-48 hours for result. NAAT is a different test and you typically get in a few hours. There is also RT-PCR which is different than PCR. RT-PCR also provides results within a few hours or less. These are 3 different tests (and the are others that are accepted as well by CBSA as well as tests that are not accepted (e.g. Rapid Antigen))

Note that this applies to Walgreens as well. They have NAAT (ID NOW - the one you want) and they offer PCR (not RT-PCR) and PCR at Walgreens is also typically 36-48 good.

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