COVID-19 Rules for International Travel
DO I NEED TO GET TESTED FOR COVID-19 BEFORE I TRAVEL?
The short answer is yes!
If you are travelling soon or just planning to travel to a destination outside the UK, it is important to understand the rules for Covid tests for international travel. Once you know how those rules apply to your chosen destination, you can plan when, where and how you will be tested to ensure that there are no obstructions during your journey.
CAN I USE THE NHS COVID TEST TO TRAVEL?
In order to travel outside the United Kingdom, you will need to pay to be tested for Covid-19 at various stages before, during and after your journey, as a free NHS Covid test report will not be accepted, even though you will be paying for the same type of PCR test in the UK that the NHS uses. In summary, you will need:
- A Covid-19 PCR test before you leave the UK, usually 3 days before departure.
- A Covid-19 PCR or Lateral Flow test 3 days before you return to the UK.
- One or more Covid19 PCR tests after you return.
CAN I TRAVEL WITHOUT A COVID VACCINE?
The Covid vaccine and travel are now beginning to go hand in hand. Some countries may allow you to travel without isolating if you have had two doses of a recognised vaccine. As time goes on and more of the world is vaccinated, it is likely that more and more countries allow travel without isolation (or just travel) on this basis.
A vaccine passport simply means your Covid19 vaccine history in written format, from an official source. If you have been vaccinated against Covid19, you can obtain your vaccination history by downloading the NHS app or through the NHS website.
RED OR REST OF WORLD?
The UK Government has now reclassified countries into two categories: red and rest of the world. In short, you will now have to either have to isolate in a hotel for 10 days (for return from red list countries, regardless of your vaccination status), or go home and isolate (if you are unvaccinated) if you arrive from any country other than a red list country. Alternatively, for those who are fully vaccinated and arriving from a non-red country, no isolation is required.
DO IN NEED A COVID TEST BEFORE FLYING?
Testing requirements before you leave can be different for each country. It is extremely likely that you will need a negative Covid test before flying out of the UK, although you might find a very small number of countries that do not require any testing prior to entry.
TESTING BEFORE RETURN
If you are not fully vaccinated (in accordance with an approved vaccination programme in the UK, Europe, USA or UK vaccine programme overseas ,you will need a negative Covid19 PCR or lateral flow test 72 hours before you board your transport back to the UK.
COVID TESTING AND SELF-ISOLATION ON RETURNING TO THE UK
From the 4th October, any person arriving from a red list country will have to isolate at a government approved hotel for 10 days, and submit PCR tests on days 2 and 8 after they arrive.
For any travellers arriving from the rest of the world, those who are vaccinated through an approved vaccination programme in the UK, Europe, USA or UK vaccine programme overseas, will not have to isolate. A single PCR test on day 2 of their arrival will be required.
Unvaccinated travellers landing in the UK from the rest of the world will need to isolate at a nominated address for 10 days. They will also need to submit PCR tests on days 2 and 8 after their arrival respectively. They will have the option of completing a day 5 “test to release test” if they wish to end isolation early.
Confused? We were too, so we put it all in a handy table:
|QUARNATINE AT HOME
|QUARANTINE IN A HOTEL
|TEST TO RELEASE
|REST OF WORLD (VACCINATED)
|Day 2 only
|REST OF WORLD (UNVACCINATED)
|Day 2 and 8
|Day 2 and 8
HOW DO I CHOOSE A TEST PROVIDER?
Make sure that the testing provider uses a lab which is UKAS accredited for Covid19 testing. This means that the tests will have a high level of accuracy and reliability. This is a requirement for all testing for foreign travel.
CAN I BUY A PACKAGE?
Yes, you can. At Shantys Pharmacy, we have put together a number of packages that you can purchase for home delivery. These include:
- Day 2
- Day 2 and 8
- Test to release
- Fit to fly
Our prices all include delivery to your home, as well as priority postage to the lab.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET CORONAVIRUS TEST RESULTS?
For each test, you should allow 72 hours for a result. If you do find a priority post box near you, your sample should reach the lab the next day, and your result can arrive two days after you collect the sample, but it can take up to three days. If you use your own courier, you may be able to send the sample to the lab more quickly and speed up the delivery of your result. It is advisable to use your own courier for the Test to Release service or Fit to Fly Certificates, as these results are time critical. If you live close to the lab, this can be a very cost-effective option.
IS COVID TESTING QUICKER IF I ATTEND A CLINIC?
In most cases, it will be quicker. At Shantys Pharmacy, you can book an appointment to attend our store in person, where a member of staff (usually the Pharmacist), will obtain the sample from you, and then organise transport to the lab in a timely manner.
Visiting in the morning will yield a result by the evening of the same day, and if you book in for the afternoon, the result will arrive the following day. It does cost a bit more, but the extra fee covers:
- Collection of the sample by a trained professional (meaning less chances of error or void samples)
- Preparation of the sample for transport
- Transport of the sample to the lab
- Booking the sample in with the lab.
It is only advisable to do it this way for Test to Release and Fit to Fly. It is cheaper to do day 2 and 8 testing at home. Day 2 and 8 results are not urgent, so with Shantys Pharmacy you can only order these for home delivery.