COVID-19 Testing For Travel

Updated 17 March 2022

Regardless of your vaccination status, you can now visit any country not on the red list without the need to take a COVID-19 test before or after your return to the UK

Nevertheless, the country you’re visiting might ask you to provide a negative COVID-19 test result to allow you entry.

It’s important to make sure any tests you take meet the required standards. As a quick turnaround is needed to ensure you get your test results on time, we recommend using a provider that comes highly trusted.

Our Travel Specialists are always on-hand to offer information and assistance when needed. To help you further, we’ve put as much information as possible into this guide to COVID-19 testing for international travel.

What tests do I need to take?

Many holiday destinations require proof of a negative test taken before you travel.

As for returning to the UK, the new travel system now comprises two lists – a red ‘no travel’ list, and a 'go' list which you are free to travel to on your holiday.

While you can’t travel to any countries on the red list, you can travel to any other country, so long as they’re accepting UK travellers and the FCDO advises it is safe to visit.

If you’ve been fully vaccinated, you’ll no longer need to take a COVID-19 test before departing to England. If you aren’t classed as being fully vaccinated, you’ll need to take a COVID-19 test a maximum of two days before you depart.

Once you’ve arrived home, your remaining tests depend on your vaccination status:

  • If you’ve been fully vaccinated, you don’t need to take any tests after arriving in England
  • If you’re not fully vaccinated, you’ll need to take a COVID-19 test a maximum of 48 hours before you arrive back in the UK, plus a further PCR test on your second day home.

You’ll need to have all necessary tests booked before you travel. Before you return home, you’ll be asked to fill out a Passenger Locator Form which requires you to provide the booking reference of your at-home test and the name of the provider.

For full details on all travel restrictions, including self-isolation or quarantine measures, please see our Traffic Light System FAQs.

What type of test do I need to take to go on holiday and return home?

As we’ve already mentioned, you no longer need to take a test to return to the UK from a country that’s not on the red list.

However, if the country you’re visiting on holiday requires you to take a test in order to allow you to enter, you’ll need to be sure that it meets the correct requirements.

The tests must meet performance standards of =97% specificity, =80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml. This could include tests such as:

  • A nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests
  • An antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device

When entering your holiday destination, your Travel Specialist will be able to let you know which type of test is required.

Testing for England Residents

If you live in England, you can’t use an NHS home testing kit for travelling. Instead, you’ll need to contact a private test provider who can include the following information with your result:

  • Your name – which will need to match the name on your travel documents
  • Your date of birth
  • The result of the test
  • The date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
  • The name of the test provider and their contact details
  • Details of what testing device was used, or confirmation that the test was a PCR test

Keep hold of all documentation that shows the result of your tests, including printed and digital copies. You may be asked to show them before entering or leaving your holiday destination.

Please note, testing requirements may differ for residents of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. You can find further details on this further on in this guide.

Where can I get a test for my holiday?

There are now many private facilities in the UK offering testing services for travel

You can find out what tests your destination requires through the link below:

www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

To further help, we’ve researched the available testing companies and have identified a selection of providers that offer a comprehensive range of options. Please click through to their websites for further details and costs.

Please note, it’s important to do your own research, read recent reviews and check each supplier’s terms and conditions when booking a test. It’ll be your own responsibility to choose a test provider for yourself.

Boots

Offers in-store COVID-19 testing service at selected sites across the UK, as well as at-home testing kits.

Express Test by Cignpost Diagnostics

Provides fast, accurate, gold-standard COVID-19 PCR and lateral flow testing across a variety of sites in the UK. Clients include Netflix, BBC, Amazon and PGA European Tour.

Local PCR

Offers a variety of PCR testing at test centres across the UK.

MedicSpot

Uses UKAS-accredited labs with fit to fly experts to help answer any queries. They offer COVID Hub pick-up points, for those not wanting to rely on Royal Mail.

Testing for All

Their mission is to make COVID-19 testing accessible and affordable to everyone who needs it. They are proudly not-for-profit and want to contribute to getting our communities back on track.

 

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