What Covid Tests Do I Need to Take When Travelling Abroad?

It’s been a tough year or so for many of us, and the idea of getting away for a vacation can really appeal. The news channels and media outlets are full of stories about which counties are opening up and which ones still offer only limited access. The picture is changing all the time. Do you need a Lateral Flow Test, or pay for a PCR travel test? If I’m double vaccinated, do I still need to take a test? What are the specific Covid testing requirements for the country you want to visit? What tests will you need to have when you return? This article provides some brief notes and some useful links, to help simplify the Covid testing process.

Finding out up to date Covid test information

Broadly speaking, you are likely to require a test before you leave, a test before you return to the UK and possibly a few tests after you have returned. The exact requirements will vary depending on the UK country you leave from (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) and the country you are visiting.

The government foreign travel advice website is a really useful place to start. It lists travel advice for 226 countries, along with advice on Coronavirus, entry requirements and other useful information. This will tell you if travel is possible as well as country specific information, such as where local Covid tests are available from.

Other websites provide useful information, such as Travel Health Pro, but remember, the up to date source is the UK government website!

Red, Amber and Green Countries

The rules for returning to the UK vary, depending on the country you are travelling from. The UK government has split countries into red, amber, and green groups, each with their own set of requirements. There are a set of government websites, which list the countries by group, and detail the leaving and returning requirements for each. These rules may vary between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, so make sure you read the correct website based on your travel itinerary.

How to get a valid travel Covid PCR test

You will need to get a specific, approved travel PCR test. Your own Lateral Flow test or a recent ‘free’ PCR test, will not be valid. If you live in the South West of England, we have a coronavirus testing centre in Bournemouth you can book a test at.

We are a UKAS accredited testing provider and offer Covid tests for traveling which may suit your needs.

Your trip

To make the most of your vacation, or indeed business trip, make sure you have carefully planned in advance. The media is full of stories of people turned away at airports because they did not have the correct testing documentation. Common mistakes include not allowing enough time for the tests, both before you leave the UK and when returning from abroad. Make sure you keep up to speed with any changes in either testing requirements or the group to which your travel destination belongs.

There is no doubt that traveling abroad is more complicated than it used to be, but with some careful planning, you can still enjoy a stress free and safe trip abroad.

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