Travel is changing. Rapid COVID-19 tests, vaccinations and air corridors have already seen many countries reopen their borders to foreign travel. And with the government’s imminent ‘Test To Release’ scheme set to reduce self-isolation for returning holiday makers to just 5 days, it is FINALLY time for that overseas holiday.
To take that trip, however, most countries (though not all) still require you to take a test to prove you don’t have the coronavirus before travelling.
Should I take a test?
Find out the latest government advice for the country you wish to visit here. Each country has different requirements which could include additional testing once you arrive in their country, but the majority require you to show evidence of a recent negative test result before they even let you on the plane.
How do I get a test?
There are various tests available to the public, including anti-body tests to find out if you have had the virus in the past, but any tests result obtained via the NHS is not acceptable. You must book a private ‘PCR’ test (it stands for ‘polymerase chain reaction’, but don’t worry we won’t test you) which basically determines if you have the virus in your system now. Ask one of our team for advice on the closest source of tests to you, or check online.
Remember to factor in postal times to ensure you get the results back before you leave on your trip.
Taking the test.
It might be done at a testing centre, or the test could be sent to your home in a kit for you to do yourself. The exact procedures can vary, but typically it involves taking a swab of inside the nostril and the back of the throat. It doesn’t hurt, but it can be a little uncomfortable and you may gag. This is normal, and over very quickly. This swab is then dropped off at a nearby test-site or collected by courier. Results will often be emailed back or sent via text.
How long does it take to get COVID-19 test results?
This varies based on provider, but most private tests will get results back to you within 48 hours, and some rapid tests can come back on the same day. Take all this – the time for the kit to arrive, and the time for the results to come back – into account when booking your test to ensure you have the results back in time for your trip.
As previously mentioned, NHS testing is NOT suitable for travelling purposes.
‘Fit To Fly’ certificates.
A ‘Fit To Fly’ certificate states that you have no symptoms of COVID-19 and are at a low risk of spreading the virus on the plane or within the country you are heading to. They are usually issued following the negative results of your private test, and can be used as proof of your health status when required by airlines or officials.
Test To Release.
From December 15th, travelers returning to the UK are able to opt in to the Test & Release scheme at their own expense. This scheme will reduce self-isolation to potentially as little as 5 days. To take part, you must book a test with a private provider in advance ready for your return and opt into the scheme via the passenger locator form you’ll be required to fill out when you arrive back in the country.
In summary, whilst there are still rules to be aware of and guidelines to follow, countries are once again ready to welcome tourists. Airlines and travel agents are keen to get back to doing what they do best (just ask our team!), and you’ll find many offers and incentives have been introduced to help persuade those still a little unsure about traveling. Though things aren’t quite ‘back to normal’, they’re a lot better than they have been.