A Guide to COVID Testing for Travel
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 for all arrivals into England – including British passport holders and even when travelling home from a green-list 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 present a negative COVID-19 test certificate. This must be:
- presented upon arrival in England;
- obtained in the 3 days before the service on which you will arrive in England departs;
- 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 green, amber or red-list country.
Additional tests on days 2 and 8 of self-isolation/quarantine are required for those travelling from amber and red-list countries.
The traffic-light system came into effect on 17th May 2021. Find out more here.
Testing requirements around the world
You may also need to produce a 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 show a negative test. These rules vary dependant on where your destination falls into the forthcoming traffic-light lists. It’s also worth noting the following:
- Those travelling to a country on the amber list will need to self-isolate for 10 days on return.
- 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.
- Those 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 Randox, 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).
It’s also possible to have someone do your swabs. We’re working closely with Randox, Collinson and Prenetics, who have clinic locations around the country.
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.
More Coronavirus Information
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