What tests do you need for travelling into and out of the UK?

The range of tests you need when you are travelling in and out of the United Kingdom can be bewildering - we simplify it here.

Please note this is a guidance on the current testing guidelines, and not an exhaustive list of the government’s wider requirements for foreign travel.

There are a number  different tests that you may have to do – some are optional while others are compulsory. We break them down for you below - read on.

Leaving the UK

Before you travel: Fit to Fly PCR Swab Tests 

Most countries now ask for a “fit to fly certificate” before you can board a plane or enter the country to prove you are negative for COVID-19. The length of time before departure that you must get a test can vary from 24 to 96 hours, though most countries including the UK ask for it within 72 hours of your arrival time into a country. 

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the right test for the country you are visiting. The government updates the list of requirements for British travellers on this website here

Another thing to note is that some countries specify the kind of ISO accreditation of the test provider. Confirm’s laboratory is accredited to ISO 15189.

If you would like to book an in-person PCR test including a Fit to Fly certificate and results the next day, click here.


Returning to the UK

1. Before you return to the UK, negative PCR Tests in your country of departure

The UK government currently requires evidence of a negative PCR swab test taken within 72 hours of arriving in the UK.

You also need to complete a government passenger locator form completed within 48 hours of your flight time to return to the UK. According to current guidelines, this form must also contain your booking confirmation number for home quarantine tests (we go into those just below).

This test can be a PCR test (which is analysed in a laboratory) or a rapid antigen test that will give you the results in 15 minutes. 

You will need to show a certificate or evidence on your phone that this test was negative to the border officials upon entering the UK. 


2. Home Quarantine Kits for Day 2 & Day 8 Home Test Kits

When you return to the United Kingdom you must self-isolate. If you are returning from a country on the so-called “red listyou must self-isolate in a quarantine hotel designated by the government. For all other countries (also known as the Common Travel Area) you must self-isolate at home.

If you are self-isolating at home, you must do a test on or before Day Two (2) of your self-isolation. The day you arrive back in the United Kingdom is classified as Day Zero (0). You must book the home quarantine test kits before you arrive back in the UK and use the confirmation number on your Passenger Locator Form. You must also show this confirmation to the border official upon entering the UK. 

The home quarantine test kit is for two test kits but they will arrive separately. You will first receive a Day 2 test kit to be taken within 48 hours of your arrival, and you will subsequently receive a second test kit to be taken on Day 8 of your home quarantine. 

Please note that even if you test negative on Day 2, you must not leave your place of self isolation until the full 10 full days have passed. This means the earliest you can leave home quarantine is on day 11.

Click here to book your test kits for testing on Day 2 and Day 8 of home quarantine. 

* To note, this test is used by the government to detect different strains of the virus, but the result will make no difference to your self isolation as you must isolate for the full 10 day period, unless you test positive which extends the period for an additional 14 days.


3. Test to Release - A test that allows you to be released from quarantine on Day 5 of self isolation at home

You can choose to take a test on or after Day 5 of your self-isolation and leave home quarantine if this test result is negative. This is only available to those isolating at home, and is not available to those isolating in a quarantine hotel or have arrived from a red list country.

You can book a Test to Release here.