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Test to Release - What it is & Order Tests

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Covid travel certificate and fit to fly certificateTravelling to the UK from an amber list country? Opt in to our Test to Release scheme to shorten your quarantine.

The government introduced the Test to Release programme to reduce the self-isolation period for travellers returning to England. This guide has been updated to reflect the new Test to Release rules from 15 February. Read our day 2 and 8 testing guide for further self-isolation and quarantine updates.

By Dr Adam Abbs. Last updated 2 July 2021.

What is Test to Release?

Test to Release is a new initiative for travellers entering England from a country on the government’s amber list. As standard, travellers need to self-isolate for ten days on arrival but can end their quarantine period early if they pay for a private Covid-19 test. The test is taken on the fifth day after arriving in England, alongside the mandatory day 2 and day 8 tests. Travellers are only able to shorten their self-isolation if they have confirmed negative test results.

How can take part in Test to Release?

Test to Release is available as an option to asymptomatic passengers arriving into England by plane, ferry or train, who have been in a ‘non-exempt’ location in the past 10 days. The Test to Release Service is suitable for adults and children. It’s not suitable for anyone with symptoms of Covid-19, or anyone who thinks they may have COVID-19. The government advises anyone showing coronavirus symptoms to take a PCR Covid-19 test immediately.

Can I take part in Test to Release if I arrive from a country on the red list?

You cannot take part in the Test to Release programme if you arrive from a country on the government’s red list. Please refer to the government website for further guidance on red list arrivals.

Can I take part in Test to Release if I arrive from a country on the amber list?

Yes. The Test to Release service is an option for those travelling from a country on the government’s amber list. The test must be purchased from a private provider like Medicspot. You can take the test on or after day 5 of your arrival in England. This must be taken alongside the mandatory day 2 and day 8 tests. Please refer to the government website for additional information.

Can I take part in Test to Release if I arrive from a country on the green list?

Travellers arriving from green list countries are only required to take a day 2 test and do not need to quarantine unless that test result is positive. As a result, there is no requirement to opt into the Test to Release scheme. You can find further guidance on the passenger locator form.

You will receive your results the next day after taking your test. Travellers can stop quarantining only after receiving a negative result certificate. If your result is positive, you must continue to quarantine for another 10 days and follow the government guidance.

Can I pick up a test early?

No, you can only pick up a test or be tested until on or after the fifth full day after you have landed in England. Book into one of Medicspot’s nationwide testing hubs to get your results the next day.

Can I travel to a coronavirus test centre?

Yes, you are permitted to travel to a Covid-19 testing facility like Medicspot’s nationwide test hubs as part of Test to Release if you live in England and it is 5 or more days since you left a country not on the travel corridor list.

Can I go on public transport to travel to a Covid test centre?

You are advised not to use public transport to go to a Covid-19 test centre, however, it is not illegal to do so.

Do I still need to self-isolate whilst I wait 5 days?

Yes, if you have returned from a country not on the travel corridor list, you must self-isolate until you have received a negative test result or ten days have passed. You can only take a Covid-19 test 5 days or more after you arrive in England.

Do I still need to self-isolate whilst waiting for my test result?

Yes, you must continue to self-isolate until you have received a negative test result.

What if my test is positive?

If you have not had symptoms of coronavirus, you must self-isolate for ten days from your test date. If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you must self-isolate for ten days from the day your symptoms started, if earlier than when you took your test.

People you live with or are travelling with should also self-isolate for ten days from the day you took a test. NHS Test and Trace may contact you to check that you, and those who you live or are travelling with, are self-isolating. You must not travel, including to leave the UK, during self-isolation. Contact 111 if you need medical help. In an emergency dial 999.

What if my test is negative?

If you receive a negative Covid-19 test result when taking part in the Test to Release programme, you may stop self-isolating.

You should self-isolate if:

  • you get symptoms of coronavirus (you should get an NHS coronavirus test and self-isolate until you get the results) 
  • you’re going into hospital (self-isolating until the date you go in)
  • someone you live with tests positive
  • you’ve been traced as a contact of someone who tested positive

For advice on when you might need to self-isolate and what to do, read ‘Self-isolation and treating symptoms’ on the NHS website.

It’s a legal requirement to self-isolate when you arrive in the UK from a non-exempt country, territory or region. If you’re contacted by the enforcement authorities or the police after you have received this negative result please show them this notification.

What if my test is inconclusive or unclear?

You must, by law, continue self-isolating for the remainder of your self-isolation period as an international arrival travelling to the UK from a non-exempt country, territory or region. NHS Test and Trace may contact you to check that you are self-isolating. If you want to shorten your self-isolation period, you will need to take another test like those provided by Medicspot.

You must, by law, continue self-isolating for the remainder of your self-isolation period as an international arrival travelling to the UK from a non-exempt country, territory or region. You may be contacted to check that you are self-isolating.

If you want to shorten your self-isolation period you will need to take another test like those provided by Medicspot.

What if I travel through a country on the travel corridor list?

If you travel from a country on the travel corridor list through a country that is not on the travel corridor list or if as part of your journey you pass through a country not on the travel corridor list at any time then you still need to self-isolate on your return to England. You can still shorten the self-isolation period through the Test to Release programme. The 5 days before you can be tested as part of the Test to Release programme starts from the time you arrive in England.

Do I still need to self-isolate when returning to England?

Yes, even if you are taking part in the Test to Release programme, you still need to self-isolate when returning to England. You can take your Covid-19 test 5 days after arriving in England. You will need to self-isolate until you have received a negative test result or 10 days have passed.

Do I have to take part in Test to Release?

No, Test to Release is voluntary. You can just self-isolate for 10 days on return from a country not in the travel corridor list. But if you would like to reduce the self-isolation period, you can take part in the scheme and get tested with a government-listed testing provider like Medicspot.

Can I take part in Test to Release if I live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland?

No, Test to Release is only applicable to people living in England.

What if I arrive in England and travel to my home in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland?

If you arrive in England from abroad and travel to your home in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, the Test to Release scheme is not applicable, and you will need to follow the guidance in those countries. Test to Release is only available to those who live in England.

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Medicspot is a government-listed Test to Release provider.

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