Vaccinated travellers will be able to use cheaper lateral flow tests for day 2 checks from 24 October in England, the government announced.Read more…
Get the cheapest “test to return” COVID-19 tests for travel to the UK
As of 4 October, unvaccinated arrivals to the UK will need a pre-departure test to return. Compare these private COVID-19 "take it with you" testing kits and get the best deal when you return from overseas.
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What is a “test to return” test?
A “test to return” is a COVID-19 test that the UK requires unvaccinated travellers returning from abroad to take a few days before leaving a foreign country and bring to the airport to prove they are negative for the virus. “Test to return” tests are usually antigen (lateral flow) tests and can be completed at home (i.e. not at a clinic but at your hotel, airbnb, holiday home, etc.).
As of 4am on the 4th October, fully-vaccinated arrivals to England don’t need to undertake a “test to return”. You’ll need to have been vaccinated as part of the UK vaccine roll-out, under an approved vaccination programme in Europe or the US, or with a full course of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines from a relevant public health body in Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan or the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Travellers arriving without proof of a satisfactory negative test result risk a £500 fine. The test result notification will need to be in English, French or Spanish, and show the following six key points of information: –
- Your name (matching your passport)
- Your age or date of birth
- The date of the test (which will need to be within 3 days of your flight, boat, train or other means of transport departing for the UK)
- The name and contact details of the test provider
- The device used for the test, or whether it was a PCR test
- The outcome of the test (inconclusive or positive test are a no-no, as you might expect)
How much do “test to return” tests cost?
You can compare test prices in the table above. As these tests are provided by private companies the prices can vary, but the average price for a “test to return” test is around £45.
Should a “test to return” test be a PCR or an antigen (lateral flow) test?
The UK accepts both PCR and antigen (lateral flow) tests to allow travellers to return. But whichever you choose, the government states that it will need to provide at least 97% specificity, and 80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml.
Lateral flow tests are generally quicker and cheaper than PCR tests and can be purchased before you leave the UK so you can easily complete them while abroad and bring them home with you. PCR tests typically need to be sent off to a lab to get the result, which can be a hassle when you’re away from home.
It is important to note that free NHS tests cannot be used for international travel.
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