When to get a Covid test if you are travelling

The government recently abolished their traffic light system for international travel, simplifying the rules for people who need to visit other countries for work, compassionate or holiday purposes. There is now just one red list of countries that is being continuously updated, and everywhere else. Please read on to find out how these changes affect the Covid tests you might need for travel.

Covid test rules for travelers – what has changed?

If you are coming to England from a country that is not on the red list and you are fully vaccinated then you can now enter without a pre-departure test. You will also now not need to isolate or take a Covid test on the 8th day after your arrival back in England.

You will, however, still need to take a PCR test on the second day after your arrival in the UK.Book yours here today


You can also purchase an antigen self-testing kit for either on-line delivery or for collection when you attend for your PCR swab.

These tests can be used to help provide a video authenticated certificated antigen self-test result to board your return flight to the UK.

Later in October, subject to UK Government approval, they can also be used for return testing for fully vaccinated travellers not from red list countries to the UK.

What if you are unvaccinated?

If you are unvaccinated, or haven’t had both doses of your Covid-19 vaccine, then you will still need to follow the rules including:

  • Take a pre-departure test before traveling to England
  • Purchase a PCR test for day 2 of your arrival back in England
  • Quarantine for 10 days, regardless of where you came from

What if you are travelling from a red list country?

If you have been in a country or territory on the red list in the 10 days before your arrival in England you will only be permitted to enter if you’re a British or Irish citizen or have residence rights.

You will need to pay £2,285 to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 nights (not including the day you arrive as this is classed as day ‘0’) and take a Covid test on day 2 and day 8 after your arrival – this will be included in your hotel package.

Do you need to take a Covid-19 test when travelling abroad from the UK?

If you are travelling from the UK to another country, you will first need to check that they are allowing people from the UK to enter. You may also need to quarantine in the country you are traveling to when you arrive. Check foreign travel advice to establish whether you need to show proof of your vaccination status or a negative covid test.  If you have to show proof of a negative covid test to enter the country make sure you arrange this before you travel. This will need to be a private test, not an NHS one and if you have been vaccinated you will need to use the NHS Covid Pass to prove your status.

Book your Covid test at heathrow

At Heathrow Medical we offer the full range of Covid tests to ensure you can travel when you need to and to keep you safe once you arrive back in the UK. 

If you need a day 2 arrival test or have to take a pre-departure covid test before outbound travel to another country please get in touch to book your covid test at Heathrow. We are located close to Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport and offer fast turnaround testing including Covid-19 PCR tests, antigen testing and antibody testing.  Please click here to find out more about our full range of Covid testing at Heathrow.

Please note that the information in this blog is correct as of 4th October 2021. For the latest government guidance we recommend you keep checking gov.uk. 

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