A Guide to COVID Testing for Travel

COVID testing

The world of travel is a complex one in the light of the coronavirus pandemic. Where’s open, what are the entry requirements, will you have to self-isolate on arrival in-destination, or when you get home? One of the biggest questions right now is undoubtedly around testing. Currently COVID-19 testing is mandatory on day 2 for all arrivals into England – including British passport holders and even when travelling home from a non-red country. That’s where Flight Centre comes in. If you’re returning to the UK and are wondering what you need to do, we’re here to help. Check out our guide using the quick links below:

What are the rules?

Currently all travellers (even UK nationals) will be required to complete a Passenger Locator Form and take a COVID-19 test on their return to England. This must be:

  • a lateral flow/rapid antigen test;
  • is applicable regardless of your entry point/method, so anyone travelling by plane, train or boat; and
  • must be presented regardless of whether you're travelling from a non-red or red-list country.

Travellers who have not been double-jabbed will also be required to:

  • take a pre-departure test (rapid antigen/lateral flow or PCR) before leaving England;
  • book a second return test for day 8;
  • quarantine at home for 10 days (or 5 days with test-to-release)

Anyone travelling to/from a red country will still be required to:

  • take a pre-departure test;
  • book a quarantine hotel package for their return to England.

In addition to any testing, forms or quarantine requirements for their destination of choice.

Sound confusing? We're here to help. Chat to our experts on 0208 127 4273 and let us book your trip without the hassle.

Testing requirements around the world

You may also need to produce an additional negative test when departing for your holiday, dependant on your destination of choice. Testing requirements vary from country to country – specifically the following:

  • Who needs to be tested – age requirements vary, in some cases children are exempt
  • What type of test is accepted – there are several out there; PCR – which detects the virus’s genetic information – is probably the most common
  • How far in advance you can be tested – many countries call for a maximum of 72 hours before travel

To see requirements for your destination of choice, check out our detailed COVID restrictions map here. Please note that requirements can change at short notice, so be sure to keep checking for updates and speak to your Flight Centre Travel Consultant if you’re unsure.

Returning to the UK

As mentioned above, it is currently mandatory that travellers entering England will need to take a day 2 COVID-19 test (lateral flow as of 24th October 2021). These rules vary dependant on whether your country is on the red list, or rest of the world. It’s also worth noting the following:

  • Those travellers who have not been double-jabbed will need to self-isolate for 10 days on their return to England from a non-red country. 
  • Quarantine requirements can be reduced to five days (applies to England only) if you take another COVID-19 test after your return from holiday, and it comes back negative.
  • This test would be at your own cost.
  • If the test comes back positive or inconclusive you must continue to self-isolate for the full 10 days.
  • Anyone returning from a country on the red list will be subject to mandatory, self-funded, hotel quarantine.


Where to get tested

We are still waiting for the government to release full guidance on where to get tested overseas before your return to the UK. We are also working closely with our partners in-destination, and airports around the world, so that we can share further advice with you as soon as it is available. We are also working with many hotels that are offering PCR tests as part of your package. For more information, please speak to your Travel Consultant. We will share any new information as we hear it on this page.

In terms of getting tested in the UK before you travel, we can help you arrange this through our vaccination partners. We work closely with ExpressTestRandox, Qured, Prenetics, Collinson Group and DiamondAir to offer value and confidence for our customers. The options are as follows:



This is available via all our partners. It’s the cheapest and most convenient option, however requires you to administer the test yourself. This is entirely the customers’ responsibility and incorrect use of the test runs the risk of an inconclusive result being returned.

Randox uses dedicated dropboxes for the return of tests. Results can be expected next day once the PCR test kits have arrived at the lab. When booked with Flight Centre, you will receive your test for £43pp (full price £48).

Clinic testing

Clinic testing

It’s also possible to have someone do your swabs. We’re working closely with ExpressTestRandox, Collinson and Prenetics, who have clinic locations around the country. ExpressTest is also the principal testing provider at Heathrow Airport.

Our recommendations

Our recommendations

If you’re confident with taking your own test – and aware of the risk to your holiday should the results be inconclusive – we would recommend using one of the at-home testing kits. Be sure to:

  • Order your test early
  • Check the timings for your destination/airline of choice
  • Read the instructions thoroughly

For those who would like more peace of mind, we recommend booking your test at a clinic, or arranging a home visit. Please contact your Consultant directly for more guidance on what test might work best for your needs.

Chat to Your Consultant for Advice on COVID Testing

Flight Centre’s Travel Consultants really know their stuff when it comes to creating bespoke itineraries. Get in touch below, and let us tailor-make it easy