3 mins

Travel Covid-19 tests: your full expert guide

We speak to the experts about Covid-19 testing requirements for travel to arm you with everything you need to know before you book your trip...

What you need to know about covid tests for travel (Shutterstock)

Many countries now require travellers to show proof of negative Covid-19 tests before they are allowed to enter. That's why we have teamed up with the experts at Screen4 who are on hand to answer your Covid-19 travel testing queries. PLUS they have a special discount on tests exclusive to Wanderlust readers...

Use code Wander5 at the checkout to get a discount on tests for travel. 

How do I know if I need a test before I travel?

Almost every country now requires a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test result before you can board your flight or enter the destination country. The tests must be taken in line with the guidance given by the country that you are travelling to. We always advise our customers to check the entry requirements for the country they are travelling to on the official government website. 

Do I need to take a test when I return from my holiday?

When you arrive in England, you must travel directly to the place you’re staying and not leave until 10 days have passed. The quarantine period starts the day you arrive in England and ends 10 days after the day you arrived. This period is necessary because it can take up to 10 days for coronavirus symptoms to appear.

You can take a test on your fifth full day of quarantine to see if you can stop quarantining early. This is known as the test to release scheme. You still need to take a test on or before day two for variant surveillance and on or after day eight to check you do not have Covid-19. Please note this may change due to government guidance and reviews of travel regulations. 

Variant surveillance helps the government to check if new types of Covid-19 are coming into the country. 

How long does it take to get a test result?

When your sample arrives at our laboratory you will receive an email notification. You will also be able to track your sample using the Royal Mail tracking number on the front of your returns envelope. 

Results are reported within 24-48 hours from receipt of your sample at the laboratory (please note this may be up to 48 hours due to high volumes). Results are sent to your online results account and when they are ready you will receive an email to prompt you to check your account. Your results PDF document can be saved to your device or printed.

Your full guide to Covid-19 testing for travel (Shutterstock)

Your full guide to Covid-19 testing for travel (Shutterstock)

Will my test come in the post?

We use couriers to post all of our test kits out to customers. This allows customers to be updated via SMS or email about their delivery. However Screen4 also have multiple clinic locations across the UK where you can book appointments and attend to have your test carried out by a friendly professional.

How much do travel Covid tests cost?

Test costs vary – if you are choosing to self-test these start from just £30.00 per test and in clinic test (carried out by one of our friendly clinicians) are £85.00. We would like to take this opportunity to provide Wanderlust customers a special discount. Use code Wander5 at the checkout.

Is the £85 the total for all tests needed or do we have to pay £85 for each test needed?

The prices displayed on our website are price per test. If you require a day two and eight test bundle (returning from an Amber country), the price shown is to cover both tests as one bundle.

I hope to travel to a Green listed area. How much will testing cost for two people? We have had our two vaccines.

Some Green listed countries do accept proof of both vaccines instead of a Pre-Travel Test. You will however still require a day two test on return to the UK. Self-tests start from £30 per test (location dependent) and in clinic tests are £85 per test.

Does the PCR test for different variants of the virus?

Yes, our RT-PCR test does test for different variants of the Covid-19 virus. For example as part of the day two and eight government programme, if an individual tests positive for Covid-19 on returning to the UK the laboratory will carry out a genetic sequencing of this sample to detect which variant of the virus this person is carrying.

 

What about other types of tests other than PCR tests? 

Screen4 also provide Lateral Flow Covid-19 tests which give a result in just 20 minutes and are becoming very popular for workplaces and potentially travel in the near future (although this is not yet confirmed).

We also offer Antibody testing, we have just launched our Home Use Antibody Finger Prick Test which can indicate levels of antibodies within a person's body. This product is very popular at the moment as people are curious as to whether they have developed antibodies after having the virus or vaccine. This test can be carried out at home and sent back to our lab with results in just three days.

I have lateral flow tests twice a week, why are they not acceptable to use for travel

Lateral Flow tests are a great way to monitor however, they are not as reliable as a RT-PCR test which undergo extensive analysis to decipher a true result.

My child is 11. I have seen some things which say under 11 don't need a test and others which say 11 and under. Would I need to book her a test as well as myself?

This depends on the country where you are travelling to. We advise you check with the local government guidance of the country you are planning to visit.

Can I organise a group Covid test in one location?

All of our in-clinic tests are held for one person at a time to ensure the safety of our staff and customers. You can book appointments 10 minutes apart at the same location. Self-tests would need to be ordered under one order and they would be dispatched at the same time to the isolation address.

Is the result from your testing centre acceptable by the state of Hawaii?

The state of Hawaii will only accept Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a certified Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) lab test results from trusted testing and travel partners including tests verified through the state’s Digital Health Pass Partners – CLEAR and Common Pass. A negative Covid-19 test result or, beginning July 8, proof of U.S. vaccination is required prior to departure to avoid quarantine in Hawaii. Screen4 are currently onboarding the Common Pass programme and becoming a partner.

Where are your testing centres located?

We have clinic locations across the UK with additional locations coming on board very soon, Our current list is:

      • Barnsley – 17 Middlewoods Way, Barnlsey, S71 3HR
      • Birmingham – 26 High St, Sutton Coldfield B72 1UP
      • Cambridge – Unit 13B, Dencora Business Centre, Nuffield Road, Cambridge, CB4 1TG
      • Cirencester – Estate Farm, West Lane, Kemble, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 6AB
      • Harlow – Lobby Office, Westgate House, West Square, Harlow, Essex, CM20 1YS
      • London – Lower Ground Floor Office, 109-111 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London, W6 8JA
      • Manchester – Office 21, 2nd Floor “The Building” HQ, Clippers Quay, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3XP

 

Can I do day eight test early, for example on day five?

 No, a day eight test must be done on or after day eight. This is in line with UK Gov guidance.

 

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