It is well over a year now since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and foreign travel is finally starting to open back up. However, the constant change in travel guidelines and testing requirements can be a bit confusing – and also a little daunting for some.
That’s why we have created this guide to help you navigate through the requirements you need to be aware of if you want to travel abroad, and back to the UK.
We have broken down the advice into four sections:
- Pre-departure FROM the UK – What to do before you travel abroad from the UK
- Pre-departure TO the UK – What to do before you travel into the UK
- Arrival in the UK – What to do after you have arrived back in the UK
- Advice for children
Pre-departure FROM the UK
Before setting off to travel to your destination, you should check the foreign advice page on the Government website as it will tell you everything you need to know about the requirements for entry for the 226 destinations they have listed.
Once you are on the page, you will see a search box – all you need to do is type your destination into that search box and it will take you to the relevant information for your chosen destination. On this page, you should be able to find the type of test required for entry to your destination. In most cases, it will be either a Rapid Antigen test or a PCR test. However, there are specific requirements about the PCR test in some cases (like it must be an RT-PCR test for example) or what type of rapid test it should be.
Once you have discovered the type of test you need, you also need to look at how long the testing window before your flight is. For a PCR test, it is usually 72 hours, but there are some countries that require it within 96 hours, 48 hours or even 24 hours before your flight. For Rapid Antigen tests, the requirements usually range somewhere between 24 hours and 72 hours prior to your flight.
Some destinations also have additional requirements on top of the testing requirements, or they may have exceptions for travellers who are fully vaccinated.
Here at Fit2FlyTest, we offer a PCR Fit to Fly Test which offers you your results within 6 to 8 hours of your flight, giving you peace of mind that you can travel safely. You will also receive an electronic Fit to Fly Certificate free of charge, or you can pay an additional £10 to receive a paper copy.
Pre-departure TO the UK
Before you enter or return to, the UK you must take a COVID-19 test and have a negative result – or you may not be allowed to board your flight. The Government guidelines currently state that either a PCR Test or a Rapid Antigen Test is acceptable as long as they are taken within 72 hours of your flight.
For PCR tests at your destination, you need to find an accredited laboratory at your destination that will be to process your PCR swab in time for your flight.
Most people opt for lateral flow tests or rapid antigen tests at this point as they can be purchased before you leave the UK, you can self-swab at your destination and receive your result by email.
Arrival in the UK
Arrival in the UK is the point where it starts to get a little complicated.
To begin with, arrivals in the UK are subject to a traffic light system at the moment. So, let’s look at the rules per list:
Travellers arriving from Green countries
- Do not have to quarantine / isolate
- Must take a Day 2 test
Fit2FlyTest offer a Day 2 Testing Kit which you can use at home.
These rules apply to all travellers, whether you are fully vaccinated or not.
Travellers arriving from an Amber list country
- Must isolate for 10 days from the day of arrival, with the day of arrival counting as day 0
- Must take a Day 2 and Day 8 test
- Can take a test on Day 5 (known as a Test to Release) which allows them to leave quarantine early – on reciept of a negative results. However, the Day 8 test is still mandatory, even if you perform a test on Day 5
If you are fully vaccinated and returning from an Amber list country, then follow the instructions for arrival from a Green list country.
If you are arriving back from an Amber Plus country then
- The rules of arrival from Amber list countries will apply whether you are fully vaccinated or not – so 10 days isolation and a Day 2 and Day 8 test must be performed
- You will be eligable for a Day 5 Test to Release test
Fit2Fly offer a range of tests suitable for this purpose:
Travellers from countries on the Red list
- Must isolate for ten days at a govenment managed facility
- Must take a Day 2 and Day 8 test
- Quarantine and testing packages must be booked through the Government site
- You will not be eligable for early release from quarantine with the Day 5 Test to Release Test
What are the testing rules for Children?
There was a change in the testing rules for Children on the 19th July, and as the current rules stand:
Children under the age of 4
- exempt from any quarantine or travel testing
Children aged 5 to 10
- exempt from the pre-departure test to arrive back in the UK
- must perform a Day 2 test on arrival back in the UK
- are exempt from quarantine, regardless of whether they are arriving from a green or amber list country
Children aged 11 to 18
- must take a pre-departure test before boarding a flight to the UK
- must perform a day 2 test after arriving back into the UK
- are exempt from quarantine, regarldes of whether they are arriving from a green or amber list country
We hope this makes the rules around quarantining and testing clearer. As always, the customer service team here at Fit2FlyTest are here to help clarify the different tests for customers.