Covid-19 Tests for Travel| June 07, 2021

Dr Kishan Vithlani answers your Covid-19 travel questions!


Covid-19 TravelPCR TestTraffic Light SystemGreen ListAmber ListRapid Antigen TestLFD TestDr Kishan Vithlani

Your Covid-19 travel questions answered.

What is the difference between a rapid antigen and a PCR test for travel?

A rapid antigen/lateral flow (LFD) test is a rapid test that provides results within 30 minutes. A PCR test requires the swab to be sent to a laboratory for analysis and deliver results within 24-48 hours. Countries have specific criteria on what test they need and within which time frame they should be done for pre-departure and post-arrival testing.

If you return to the UK from Green or Amber listed countries, you can use the rapid lateral flow test for pre-departure, which a Qured Health Advisor oversees through a video consultation. Some destinations also allow you to use the rapid test when travelling into the country, but you should always check for the most up to date government guidance on specific country requirements (visit GOV.UK).

If I have both vaccines, will I need to take a test to travel?

Yes. At present, you still need to take a Covid-19 test for travel despite being vaccinated. In the future, some countries may allow fully or partially vaccinated visitors to travel into the country without the need for a test.

Which countries accept an LFD/rapid antigen test?

If you’re travelling to the UK from another country or returning to the UK from a holiday, you can use a rapid LFD test before your departure.

If you’re travelling from the UK, countries accepting a rapid LFD test include Germany, Italy, Denmark, Luxembourg and Sweden. More countries may be added, and some may be removed if Covid-19 cases rise in the UK or their own country. Please check the latest travel requirements for your destination country.

Do I need to take Covid tests on both my outbound and return journeys?

Yes. At present, all countries, including Green list countries, require a Covid-19 test for inbound and outbound.

What happens if I test positive on Day 2? Or Day 10?

If you test positive on a PCR test, you are legally required to self isolate for ten days as per the current government guidance. Self-isolation should start from the day your symptoms began, and if you had no symptoms then it should be from the day you did your test. This is also the case if you test positive on day 10.

If you test positive on an LFD test, you should immediately isolate and request a Covid-19 PCR test. If this is positive, you should follow the same advice as above. If you are positive, make sure your household contacts self isolate too. If you start to feel increasingly unwell, speak to your doctor promptly.

Is Test to Release compulsory?

No. Test to Release only applies if you return from an Amber list country and wish to end your self-isolation period earlier (at day 5). It’s another PCR test, and you’ll need to book it before you start your journey back to the UK.

If I’m going to an Amber or Red country, can I come back via a Green country and avoid quarantine?

No. If you have been through an Amber or Red list country in the ten days before your arrival to the UK, you still need to follow the government guidance on quarantine as per the specific requirements for Amber or Red list countries.

I have a positive antibody test. Do I still need to do more tests?

Yes. At present, testing for travel is required even if you have Covid-19 antibodies.

Can the lateral flow test for return to the UK be taken on the day of travel?

Yes. You should take the test within 72 hours before starting your journey to the UK, but it is best to save the stress and plan your testing ahead of your trip rather than opting for a same-day test.

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