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Covid tests to enter the UK

To enter the UK you must show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test within 72 hours (3 days) of your departure.

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As of July 2021, countries have been placed in green, amber or red lists. The tests you need will depend on where you have been in the 10 days before you arrive in England and whether the countries you have transited through are on the red, amber or green list.

We recommend checking the government website regularly to see which applies to your country of travel. If conditions change in a country or territory, they can be moved to a different colour category without warning.

Which types of Covid-19 tests are accepted for travel to the UK?

It is your responsibility to find a reputable private test provider like Medicspot to provide your Covid-19 tests for travel. The test must meet the WHO (World Health Organisation) performance standards of ≥97% specificity, ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml. You might not be able to travel if your test doesn’t meet these requirements.

Approved tests include:

  • A nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests.
  • An antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device.

This useful video explains the requirements:

Which tests do you need to enter the UK?

Medicspot offers return antigen tests which are accepted to enter the UK. If you test negative, you will be sent a Fit to Fly certificate which will allow you to travel to the UK. You can save the hassle of finding a return test kit abroad by ordering a test kit to take with you before you fly.

Who can get a test?

Anyone in England who does not have coronavirus symptoms can get a private rapid lateral flow test provided that they are accepted for travel by your chosen airline and country of destination.

Are antigen tests accepted to enter the UK?

Some countries, including the USA, Italy and Egypt, accept antigen tests for travel. However, you should check that both the airline and destination consider an antigen test for travel valid. If you are travelling to England, you must take an antigen test before you arrive to avoid a £200 fine.

Can I take an NHS test to enter the UK?

NHS tests cannot be used for the purpose of pre-departure testing before travelling to the UK.

Do I need a test if I'm fully vaccinated?

As of July 2021, you must take a test even if you have received both doses of a Covid vaccination as the vaccines do not give 100% protection from coronavirus. As more people receive the Covid-19 vaccine, the risks reduce, so this advice may change in future. Please refer to the government website for further information as guidelines are updated regularly.

Do I need to test if I have antibodies?

Yes, you must take a test even if you have antibodies, because antibodies do not guarantee you cannot catch coronavirus again.

Do children need to take a test to enter the UK?

The current government advice for England states that children aged 10 and below do not need to take a test to enter the country.

Which Covid-19 tests are required before I travel to Scotland and Wales?

From 18 January 2021, you are required to take a Covid-19 test and receive a negative result before travelling to Scotland and Wales. You must take the test within 3 days of starting your journey to Scotland or Wales. Learn more about getting tested before you travel to Scotland or Wales.

Which Covid tests are required before I travel to Northern Ireland?

Since 21 January 2021, most people travelling to Northern Ireland from abroad will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result taken 3 days before departure. Visit nidirect.gov.uk to learn how this will affect you.

Do I need to complete a passenger locator form before travelling to England?

Yes, everyone is required to complete a passenger locator form before travelling to England, without exception.

Do I need to take a test when travelling from all countries?

Generally, yes, but there are some exceptions. These include: Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey, Ascension, and Falkland Islands. This list is always changing so please check the government website before travelling.

What should my test result include?

Your test result must be in either English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted. You must provide the original test result notification which must include the following information:

  • your name, which should match the name on your travel documents
  • your date of birth or age
  • the result of the test
  • the date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
  • the name of the test provider and their contact details
  • confirmation of the device used for the test, or that the test was a PCR test

If the test result does not include this information you may not be able to board, and may not be able to travel to England. If you arrive without a test result that includes this information, you might have to pay a £500 fine.

What if I test positive?

You are not allowed to travel to England if you test positive for Covid-19. For further guidance on testing positive for Covid-19, please refer to the government website.

What if my test is inconclusive?

You will need to take another test and will only be able to travel to England if you have evidence of a negative test result.

Are there medical reasons for not needing a test?

Please see the government website for the latest rules but if you are travelling for, or accompanying someone travelling for, urgent medical treatment then you might not need to take a test. You might not need to take a test if you have a medical condition that prevents you from doing so but please check government guidelines before travelling.

How can I check if my job is exempt from testing when travelling to England?

Please visit the government website for further information on which jobs are exempt from taking a test as these are liable to change. Where should I take the test?

You can choose to take a test in the place where you start your journey or in another country on your way to England, if you are travelling through another country.

If your journey to England will involve stopping in another country on the way, you should try to take a test in the country you’re travelling through. This is so you take the test in the 3 days before you board the final service to England.

If you’re travelling by plane and changing flights, where possible you should get a test within 3 days of your final departure point to England.

You can save the hassle of finding a Covid test abroad by ordering a return antigen test with Medicspot today.

Testing and quarantine for UK arrivals

The links below provide further information about:

When should I order my tests?

We recommend ordering your travel test package or day 2 only test as soon as possible to guarantee your test kits are reserved for you.

When will my kits be delivered?

You will receive your day 2 test on the day you arrive in England. You will receive your day 8 test on the eighth day of your quarantine. We will dispatch your day 2 kit as soon as you order to ensure you have your kit when you arrive in England. Please note, we can only dispatch your kits Monday to Friday so it is important to order the appropriate test kit before you travel.

Do I need to register my kit?

You must register your kit before returning it via Royal Mail. If you have problems registering your kit on a mobile device, please use a desktop computer. If you need further assistance, our dedicated customer service team will be happy to help via live chat. For more information, go to our day 2 and 8 test FAQ page.

By Dr Adam Abbs

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Medicspot is a government-listed provider of private Covid-19 testing.

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