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COVID Testing for Travellers guide

The world is opening up and MyHealthChecked is here to help with affordable, Government-approved COVID testing for travellers. Whether you’re travelling for work or leisure, we have all the testing kits you’ll need. In this guide, we’ll talk you through which tests you’ll need, and when you’ll need them.

Which COVID tests will I need for travel?

It all depends on where you’re travelling to, and when. At the date of publishing (07/12/21) you can only legally travel to and from the UK for very specific purposes – find full details on GOV.UK.

Which COVID test do you need?

This table breaks things down if you want answers fast. Or read on for more detail.

What travel test do you need when arriving in the UK? It depends on what country you have travelled from.

If you are flying out of the UK

Most airlines require a PCR test before flying, and some countries will request a test on entry. For many, our general test – which includes a PCR certificate suitable for Fit-to-Fly use – is a good option as we process within 24-36 of lab receipt. Do be careful to check your timeline carefully. If you are on a very tight schedule, choose an ‘in-person’ test so you aren’t reliant on Royal Mail. There is also an option to drop off your test directly to our lab – please contact us to discuss before purchase.

If you have been vaccinated, you may still need a test until vaccination passports are standardised and agreed – be sure to check what’s required with your airline and the website/embassy for your destination country, including what documentation is required.

Grant Shapps has suggested that UK holidaymakers accepts the NHS app to prove their coronavirus status in certain countries – whether that’s full vaccination or a recent negative test result.

Returning to the UK

When you return to the UK, your next steps will be dictated by your destination of origin. Destinations will be grouped as non-red and red list countries – each with different rules.

All travellers must take a pre-departure COVID-19 test up to 2 days before travelling to England - regardless of vaccination status.

Non-red countries

If you are adult fully vaccinated take a Day 2 test once you arrive back in the UK. You will need to quarantine until you receive your negative test result.

Non-vaccinated travellers must quarantine for ten days and take a Day 2 and Day 8 Travel Test Package. You may choose to try Test-to-Release on Day 5 to potentially end self-isolation early.

Red Countries

Arrivals will need to quarantine in a Government-managed hotel for 10 days. You must also take a Day 2 and Day 8 Travel Test Package.

In all cases, you will also need to take a test before leaving your destination. Finally, it looks likely that you will need to take these tests regardless of your vaccination status – though this is yet to be confirmed.

Get organised before you go

Remember – you must order your return tests before you have landed in the UK. You will be asked for details on your Passenger Locator Form.

What are the Red List Countries?

The Red List of 10 countries was announced on Sunday 28th Nov, 2021

  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • Eswatini
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • South Africa
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Will the lists change?

One factor to bear in mind when planning travel is that – like last summer – countries may change status with little warning.

This means you may plan and book a holiday to a non-red country, but that country may end up being on the Red List by the time you travel (or return home). So it makes sense to be prepared, and either book a holiday you can cancel at short notice with a full refund, or carefully consider a contingency plan in case there’s an unexpected change.

What if my Non-Red List destination goes Red?

In this circumstance, you will need to quarantine in a Government-approved travel hotel on your return. Tests for travellers arriving from red countries who are required to stay in a managed quarantine hotel can only be delivered by the official government provider.

We hope you have found this guide useful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us for help and guidance navigating the latest rules and regulations. Our friendly customer services team are available here.


Reviewed and updated 08/12/2021

Date of publication 07/05/21