COVID-19 Testing For Travel

Updated 25 January 2022

If you’ve been fully vaccinated, 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

This means that if you’ve received two doses of an approved vaccine, you won’t need to take any tests to return home. Nevertheless, the country you’re visiting might ask you to provide a negative COVID-19 test result to allow you entry.

If you’ve not been fully vaccinated, you’ll still need a pre-departure test in the two days before you return to England, plus another test on or before your second day home.

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 Managers are always on-hand to offer our clients 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?

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

Your test result must be in either English, French or Spanish. Translations won’t be accepted.

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

Some testing providers offer lateral flow or antigen kits that can be taken abroad with you and verified remotely. Self-administered tests taken from the UK, including those using photographic evidence, are acceptable.

Keep hold of all documentation that shows the result of your tests, including printed and digital copies. You’ll be asked to show them before leaving and entering a country.

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 return travel to England. The Government has published a list of test providers that are approved to produce COVID-19 test results for those going on holiday, which you can find via the links below.

https://www.gov.uk/find-travel-test-provider

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.

Testing for Wales Residents

If you’re returning to Wales, you’ll follow the same rules as England.

Testing for Scotland Residents

All travellers over the age of 12 years will need to take a PCR or lateral flow test a maximum of two days before departing for Scotland.

Tests can be booked via the Government website.

Testing for Northern Ireland Residents

To return to Northern Ireland, you must take a PCR or lateral flow test a maximum of two days before departing.

Tests can be booked via the Government website.

Where can I get a test while I’m at my holiday destination?

To obtain a negative test result two days prior to your departure for the UK, you’ll need to take a test before your holiday ends.

You must take the test in the two days before your service to England departs. For example, if you travel directly to England on Friday, you could take a test any time on the Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. The test result must be available for boarding. If your journey to England is a multi-leg journey, you can take the test in the two days before the start of the first leg.

This means you’ll have to use a test provider that meets the UK standards in your destination. Our Travel Managers will do all they can to help you find approved test providers in your holiday resort or destination. Many of our hotels are providing guests with testing facilities to ensure this is as easy as possible.

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