Covid-19 tests for travel: All you need to know
Pre-travel tests & ‘Test to Release’ from quarantine
Testing has long been seen as key to controlling the Coronavirus pandemic and it is now being used to facilitate a return to international travel for those that need to travel for work, and also for those of us that want to enjoy a holiday abroad or visit family and friends.
Pre-travel tests (to enter another country)
Most countries that we can are allowed to travel to this winter, such as The Canary Islands, The Maldives, Dubai and Madeira, will require evidence of a negative Covid-19 test taken within a certain time period before arrival, typically 72 hours.
But how and where do you get a Covid-19 test, and which type of test should you have? This short guide will help.
What type of test do I need?
The most reliable type of test, and the type that most countries are insisting on is a PCR test, these tests are conducted by a swab in the nose and/or throat.
Where can I get a covid-19 test for travel?
If you require a Covid-19 test to travel you should not use the NHS test and trace service, this is intended for those who have symptoms, NHS staff and those invited to have a test by a health professional.
If you need a Covid-19 test for travel you need to get one done privately. There are several home testing services available now, as well as private clinics where you can go in person to have a test.
It’s easy to find test providers by doing a search on Google or Bing. On a quick search we found that costs currently ranged between £109 and £200. However, this is a growing market, with considerably more companies offering tests now than there were a month ago, so we hope costs will go down as competition increases.
With a home test, you simply need to purchase a test pack online which will be sent to your house, we recommend ordering your test in plenty of time before you trip.
Then you do the test at home at the required time, often within 72 hours of arrival at your destination, seal the swab pack as instructed and return it by post or courier to the lab.
Results are usually available between 24 and 48 hours after you return the test to the lab.
Most private companies operating this service will provide you with a fit to fly certificate if the test is negative.
How do I find out if a pre-travel Covid-19 test is required?
To find out if you will be required to have a Covid-19 test and within what time period, go to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s travel advice pages on the gov.uk website.
Simply enter the country you are travelling to and you will see all the latest travel advice for your destination, including whether they are advising against travel and any entry requirements such as a negative Covid-19 test.
10% Off pre-travel Covid-19 PCR tests
Rightangled are a private health care provider, registered with the Care Quality Commission, they can send a PCR swab test kit to your home, with the results available online within 24 hours. (These tests are not valid for the test to release scheme).
You can get 10% off the cost by quoting OUL10 when you purchase your test.
Test to release – testing on return to the UK
The government’s ‘test to release’ scheme which aims to cut the amount of time you need to spend self-isolating on your return to the UK, will start on 15 December.
Instead of having to self-isolate for 14 days, travellers returning from a country not on the travel corridors list, can choose to pay for a private Covid-19 test after 5 days. If the test is negative, they can stop self-isolating.
The scheme only applies to those required to self-isolate in England.
How to take part in Test to Release
You must choose to opt into the scheme when you compete the passenger locator form before returning to the UK.
You will need to book a test with a private test provider from the list provided by the government. The test provider will be able to send you a home test kit, or you can attend a testing site.
You should book your test before you arrive back in England, so that you have the details of the provider to enter on to the passenger locator form.
Tests from the NHS test and trace programme will not be valid to release you from quarantine.
Full details of the Test to Release scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-test-to-release-for-international-travel