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COVID-19 testing before you travel
Many of our favourite holiday destinations are now 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?
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.
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.
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 as smoothly and as easy as possible, we’d recommend Confirm Testing, who have a fantastic 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.
Where can you travel to with a Covid test?
There are many different places you can now visit with a negative COVID-19 PCR test, but before you book it’s worth having a look at what kind of restrictions are in place in each destination on our specific airport measures page.
Certain destinations and hotels will require you to adhere to local rules and restriction to be permitted entry. Criteria could range from undertaking a Covid-19 test (often at your own expense), to self-monitoring via a regional track and trace app, to agreeing to a period of self-isolation if necessary. Failure to comply could mean that you are refused admission unless – or until – you meet the necessary requirements.
As an On the Beach customer it is your individual responsibility to adhere to comply with local restrictions at all times. Further information relating to Covid-specific entry requirements and your obligations as a passenger can be found in our terms and conditions here.
Dive into a world of wonder in Dubai, where dreamy beaches meet marvellous cityscapes and the hotels are just out-of-this-world. Dubai is now welcoming back travellers as long as they can provide a printed negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate that was taken no earlier than 96 hours before departure. You can also take a test for free upon arrival in Dubai, however, this is subject to change. Before you travel, you’ll need to fill in this health declaration form and present it to the airline staff at check-in.
Ditch dull skies and discover magical sunsets, gorgeous green scenery and the twinkling oceans of Madeira and the Azores. All you need to do is fill in the Regional Health Authority’s (IASAÚDE) form before you arrive and provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate, obtained within 72 hours of travel.
Alternatively, you can complete a test upon arrival at the airport at no cost to you. You might also be subject to thermal screening at the airport, and if you’re travelling from Madeira & Azores to Scotland from the 5th of September, you will be required to isolate upon return.
Always dreamed of treating yourself to an idyllic escape in an out-of-this-world paradise? Now could just be the perfect time. Travelling to St Lucia is a breeze. All you need to do is complete the health declaration form and provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, completed within 7 days of travel. You’ll be exploring tropical waters in no time! Find the form here.
The oh-so-blue bays of Barbados are also inviting us back to their warm and welcoming shores. So, if you’ve always fantasised over an incredible Caribbean escape – you might just be able to bag yourself a bargain getaway.
Before you travel, you'll need to fill out the online immigration form and upload the negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate on their website. You must also take a copy of the results, either printed or electronically, with you to the airport.
Upon arrival in Barbados, you’ll need to remain at one of these holding hotels or approved villas until you’ve been tested again - if you test positive you will be required to self isolate. Since this test will be taken 4-5 days after your initial test, you should only have to self-isolate for a maximum of two days after arrival. Maybe you’ll just have to make it a two-week trip after all!
Soak up the sun along glimmering turquoise waters just as you’ve been dreaming of. Antigua is now open to travellers still on the lookout for a long-awaited holiday. However, to make sure your hotel meets official cleaning standards, you'll need to book a stay in one of the properties listed on the government’s approved list of accommodation. Luckily, there’s plenty of fantastic hotels to choose from.
If you're visiting Antigua, you’ll need to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, taken no more than seven days before you arrive. Further health screening checks are also currently in place at the airport and you could be asked to enter a government-provided quarantine upon arrival. Measures are subject to change in Antigua but they may include further testing and mandatory travel history and temperature tests. If you are instructed to take a test upon arrival you may be required to pay a fee.So there you have it, sunshine is still on the cards for now in all of these wonderful beach holiday hotspots. You just need to arrange a test before you travel!
What happens if I test positive?
It’s worth bearing in mind when booking your break that there is always the possibility that you may receive a positive test result, either before you travel or upon arrival at your destination. This is why we would always recommend taking out our On the Beach travel insurance with your booking.
Our insurance will cover you if your trip got cut short due to you, or a member of your family or any of your travelling party becoming ill with COVID-19 or having to quarantine as a result of medically diagnosed COVID-19, as well as any medical expenses (exclusions apply – see full terms and conditions for more info).
In addition, it’s also worth noting that the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) still advises against all but essential travel to some destinations and a quarantine period may apply upon your return to the UK.** Please note that this information was correct at the time of publishing 11/12/2020.
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