Travel Testing Explained


More than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic has started, travel is finally opening back up. However, the constantly changing guidelines and testing requirements can seem a bit daunting and confusing. We have created this simple guide to help you navigate through the requirements for travelling abroad and/or coming into the United Kingdom.

We have broken down travel into 3 sections below:

  1. What to do before you travel abroad from the UK
  2. What to do before you travel into the UK
  3. What to do after you have arrived into the UK

And another section to explain the rules for children. Read on below.

Pre-departure FROM the UK

Before you travel to your destination, you should check the foreign travel advice page on the Government website. It will tell you all you need to know about the requirements for entry for 226 destinations listed.

You can check the site here.

Just enter the name of the destination in the search field and go to the relevant page. This page should let you know the type of test accepted as a requirement for entry into your destination. In most cases, it will either be a PCR test or a Rapid Antigen test. In some cases, there are specific requirements about the PCR test (like an RT-PCR for example), or the type of rapid test (like ones accepted by the EU).

Once you’ve determined the type of test, you need to understand how long the testing window is prior to your flight. For PCR, it is usually 72 hours, but there are some countries requiring it within 96 hours, 48 hours, or even 24 hours prior to the flight. For rapid antigen, requirements normally range between 24 hours and 72 hours prior to arrival.

Some destinations have additional requirements, or they have exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers.

At Confirm Testing, we offer PCR Fit to Fly through our clinic only, which guarantees you receive results the next day and in time for your flight. For Rapid Antigen, we offer both an in-clinic or at-home service for your convenience.

We offer the following products for this purpose:

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Pre-departure TO the UK

Before you return to, or enter, the United Kingdom, all travellers must take a COVID-19 test and have a negative result in order to board the flight to the UK. The Government guidelines currently state that either a PCR or a Rapid Antigen test are acceptable within 72 hours of your flight.

For PCR tests in destination, travellers would be required to find an accredited laboratory in their destination that will process their PCR swab in time for the flight.

The much easier (and cheaper) option would be to opt for the rapid antigen test. Similarly, travellers can opt for one in their destination. The easiest option for many is to purchase a rapid antigen test prior to leaving the UK and perform the test in the destination prior to boarding the flight to the UK.

At Confirm Testing, our lateral flow/rapid antigen tests allow you to purchase the test prior to your travels, take them with you, and self-swab in your destination and receive the result via email prior to your flight. This is the easiest and quickest way to receive a certificate for flight while abroad.

We offer the following product for this purpose:

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Arrival in the UK

This is usually where it gets the most complicated. To begin, arrivals into the UK are subject to a traffic light system.

Let’s start with the rules per list:

Travellers arriving from Green list countries:

  • Do not have to isolate
  • Must take a Day 2 test

For fully vaccinated travellers, the same rules apply.

We offer the following products for this purpose:

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Travellers from Amber list countries:

  • Must isolate for 10 days after arrival, with day of arrival counting as day 0
  • Must take a Day 2 and a Day 8 test
  • Can take a test on Day 5 (and no earlier), also known as Test to Release, and can leave isolation after receiving a negative result. Day 8 test is still mandatory, even if a Day 5 has been performed

For fully vaccinated travellers, the rules are essentially the same as those for travellers from Green list countries.


Travellers from Amber Plus countries:

  • The rules of the Amber list will apply regardless of vaccination status, meaning a full isolation period and Day 2 and Day 8 tests must be performed.
  • Still eligible for a Day 5 Test to Release

We offer the following products for this purpose:

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Travellers from Red list countries:

  • Must isolate at a managed quarantine facility
  • Must take a Day 2 and Day 8 test
  • Quarantine and testing packages must be booked through the Government site and must not be booked through private providers.
  • Not eligible for early release with the Day 5 test

The link to the Government guidance on Red list countries can be found here.

What about the children?

Following a rule change on 19 July, these are the current rules:

Children under the age of 4

  • Exempt from any travel testing or quarantine

Children from 5 to 10

  • Exempt from the pre-departure test to come into the UK
  • Must perform a Day 2 test after arrival
  • Exempt from quarantine, regardless of arriving from Amber or Green list countries

Children from 11 to 18

  • Must take a pre-departure test before boarding a flight to the UK
  • Must perform a Day 2 test after arrival
  • Exempt from quarantine, regardless of arriving from Amber or Green list countries

We hope that helps clarify the guidelines around travel testing. As always, we at Confirm Testing are always happy to help clarify the different tests for our customers.

Wishing you continued health and safe travels!