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What COVID-19 tests do you need to travel abroad?

Posted on March 18, 2022 by Vicky Smith
COVID-19 PCR test concept with passport

Wherever you’re jetting off to, you may be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test at various stages of your trip. To ensure your holiday goes as smoothly as possible, you’ll need to arrange and pay for tests in advance.

Read on to find out more about what COVID-19 tests you need for travelling abroad.

What’s the difference between a PCR test and lateral flow test?

When it comes to travel there are two types of COVID-19 test you need to know about.

  • The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is considered the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to screening for COVID-19 because the test can pick up the virus at low levels.

The PCR test involves a swab of your nose and back of your throat. Results need to be processed in a lab and usually takes 24 hours to come back.

  • An antigen test, also known as a rapid test or lateral flow test, is considered less reliable but is a quicker way of determining whether someone is infectious. 

This also involves taking a swab of the nose, and sometimes the throat. It’s also cheaper than the PCR test.

Mobile app concept showing covid-19 test results for travel

What COVID-19 tests do you need to take to travel abroad?

Many countries have now made COVID-19 testing a part of their entry requirements. The type of test you’ll need to take will depend on your destination and your vaccination status.

You can check the entry requirements of any destination on the Foreign Office (FCDO) website.

What tests do you need for returning to the UK?

As of 4am 18 March 2022, travellers returning to the UK no longer need to take any COVID-19 tests. This is regardless of your vaccination status, or the country you have been visiting. 

For more details, check the FCDO’s advice

How much do COVID-19 tests for travel cost?

The cost of testing for travel varies and some private clinics can charge up to £80 for one PCR test. Home PCR tests are usually cheaper, at around £40, while lateral flow tests will set you back around £20 each. 

Though it is important to note that not all countries accept home tests, so check the entry requirements on the Foreign Office (FCDO) website prior to travel. 

Where can I get COVID-19 tests for travelling?

Depending on where you are travelling to, the costs of COVID-19 testing can really add up.

To help you save on costs for travel, we have teamed up with Randox Health to offer 10% off COVID-19 tests when you buy a new travel insurance policy with us.*

How to get discounted PCR tests with Randox Health

You can also find a list of approved test providers on the government’s website.

Wherever you get your tests from, make sure they adhere to the government guidance for what will be accepted when you travel.

*Please note, offers can be changed and/or retracted at Randox’s discretion. Discount applies to home delivered COVID-19 tests only. This offer excludes tests bought for click and collect.

All information has been checked to be accurate at the time of publishing. Information is subject to change from the government and FCDO advice.

Vicky Smith

by Vicky Smith

Vicky Smith is a journalist and freelance content creator. She loves to travel with her family. Her favourite place in the world is a sandy beach in Cornwall.