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COVID-19 testing before you travel

COVID-19 testing before you travel

Many of our favourite holiday destinations will soon be welcoming back travellers to their sunny shores once more. Although you might now find that some destinations require you to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, or a printed or digital ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate to be shown upon arrival. The good news is that there are now more ways than ever that you can do this and we’re here to tell you all about it. So, if you’ve never been more ready to get your toes in the sand and escape to the sun on a beachy getaway, then you’re in luck.

Booking a Covid test before you travel is now easier than ever, with several new test options to choose from. You can now book an appointment for a test before you travel at your local Boots pharmacy, find a slot at an airport testing centre or arrange a home testing kit from the comfort of your living room – choose whatever suits you best.

COVID-19 tests can vary in cost depending on which test you need to complete for your destination, and your testing options can also vary depending on your location in the UK – so it’s always best to do your research before you book your appointment. To get you started, we’ve outlined the options available to you below, with a little more info on what to expect from each one.

Please do bear in mind that travel restrictions and entry requirements are subject to change at any time. Please check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) website for all updates.

Where can I book a COVID-19 test before I travel?

Airport testing

Several UK airports have now set up COVID-19 testing centres, including Manchester, East Midlands and London Stansted. There are a range of different COVID-19 test types available at the airport testing centres, so the first step is to check the latest government advice for travel to your destination and find out which test you will need to book.

Make sure you also check that the test certificate is provided in the format needed for your holiday destination, as some countries do specify that this should be provided in paper or electronic format. You’ll find more information on what rules apply for your chosen destination by checking our specific airport measures page.

The next step is to head over to the airport’s website, where you’ll find the different types of test available along with a link to the test provider so you can book your appointment. Remember to consider how long your test will take to process and the entry requirements of your chosen destination before you book. The negative COVID-19 PCR test that is required for entry to many popular holiday destinations can take up to 24-72 hours to process - so timing is key.

Wear a face covering at all times when attending your appointment and make sure you bring the required identification and test booking confirmation with you. Do not go to the airport if you suspect you have COVID-19.

Book your appointment at the Manchester, East Midlands and Stansted airport testing centres.

airport testing

Covid-19 testing with British Airways

You may be able to arrange a Covid-19 test for a discounted price if you’re a British Airways passenger. From just £33 you could be given a rapid antigen test from a government-approved provider, such as Qured. Results are available in just 20 minutes, with a video call with a health advisor to guide you through the testing procedure and how to process the nose and throat swab. A ‘fit to fly’ certificate is also included, providing the test is negative. This can be downloaded onto your device.

Covid-19 testing with The Doctors Clinic Group

Rapid PCR tests for Covid-19 can be obtained from The Doctors Clinic Group in as little as three days' turnaround. This government-approved provider offers quick, easy home testing kits and an easy way to book online or by phone. You will be notified of your results by text and email, and the results are available to view on a secure online portal, along with a free fit to fly certificate on request. Rapid antigen tests and antibody tests are also available.

Covid-19 tests at Boots pharmacies

Boots pharmacy are now offering (PCR) COVID-19 testing at several selected stores across the UK. You will need to book your appointment before you go for your test, which you can do up to 28 days in advance via the Boots website.

When booking, Boots recommend that you schedule your appointment no earlier than 72 hours and no later than 60 hours before your flight. Check before you travel that your test will meet the requirements of your chosen location on the Government website.

When attending your appointment, make sure to wear a face-covering and bring identification with you. The appointment will take around 15 minutes, and once completed your test will be sent off to the laboratory for PCR testing. You will receive your results by email within 48 hours, and providing the test is negative, you can then download your results certificate straight away.

If you’re travelling from Manchester Airport, you can also get a 5% discount on your Boots COVID-19 test by calling 0808 164 0804 (9:00 – 17:00, Monday – Friday) before booking.

Obtain a Covid-19 test from another private provider

Qured is one example of a government-approved Covid-19 test provider, and more companies are offering them all the time. The main thing to remember when choosing a private testing company is that you do your research. This could be as simple as checking with your airline or holiday provider that the test results will be accepted from that organisation. There's more information on how to tell if the provider is authentic at the bottom of this page.

Home test kits

Home test kits are also a good option for anyone heading off on their holidays. You will be provided with all the instructions you need to complete the test correctly and safely, and the postage back to the laboratory is usually covered in the cost.

To get you to the beach quickly and easily, companies like Confirm Testing have a quick turnaround system in place to ensure you receive your ‘Fit to Fly’ certificates exactly when you need them.

Confirm Testing’s certificates are recognised around the world, meeting all airline and entry standards, the postage is already pre-paid for.

You can order your test kit in advance if you’d prefer to be prepared, but you must place your order before 16:00, no later than five days before you are due to travel. Your kit will arrive the next day for you to carry out the test and you’ll then need to send this off the same day - four days before you are due to travel. Three days before your flight, the test will arrive at the laboratory, and assuming your test is negative, your ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate will be emailed to you as soon as the results have been processed.

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