COVID-19 tests for entering the UK

To enter the UK from abroad, you need to take one or more COVID-19 tests, depending on the latest government guidelines. We can help you understand which tests you need, so you can travel without worrying.

This guide reflects the latest travel testing guidelines from 9 January 2022.

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COVID-19 Travel testing with ZAVA
 

Important: it is your responsibility to make sure you have the correct tests. The government reviews travel restrictions and testing requirements every 3 weeks, so please check these before you travel. These will vary depending on where you’re travelling from or arriving (i.e. your home country), as well as your age and vaccination status.

What tests do fully vaccinated travellers need to take (non red list)?

Before departure

From 4am on 7 January 2022, if you're a fully vaccinated* adult (or under the age of 18) entering the UK from a non red list country, you no longer need to take a pre departure test before travelling.

After arriving

From 4am on 9 January 2022, you can take a Day 2 lateral flow test, instead of a Day 2 PCR test after arriving in the UK (though PCR tests will still be accepted after this date). Read more about the travel test rules for children, below.

This must be booked before travelling to the UK and taken within the first 2 days of arriving in the country.

If your lateral flow test is positive, you must isolate and book a free, confirmatory PCR test.

What tests do travellers who are not fully vaccinated need to take (non red list)?

Before departure

Travellers aged 12 and over who are not fully vaccinated* must take a pre departure COVID-19 test up to 48 hours of travelling back to the UK. This can either be a PCR test or a lateral flow test. Check the official government guidance on testing before travelling to the UK.

You will need proof of your negative result to travel.

After arriving

If you are not fully vaccinated and are entering the UK from a non red list country, you will need a Day 2 and 8 PCR test pack for when you arrive. You must book this before travelling to the UK.

Also, you must quarantine at home (or in the place you’re staying) for 10 full days too.

You should take your Day 2 test within the first 2 days of entering the country (i.e. between days 0 and 2). Then, you should take your Day 8 test between days 8 and 10 (unless your Day 2 test is positive, in which case you can skip your Day 8 test).

You must continue to quarantine for the full 10 days, even if both test results are negative and you don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms.

If you’re in England, you can choose to take a Test to Release on or after day 5. You can leave quarantine early if your result is negative. This is optional.

* Check if you’re recognised as fully vaccinated. You must have received your second COVID-19 vaccination at least 14 days before you travel. If your second dose was less than 14 days ago, please follow the steps for those who are not vaccinated.

Red list arrivals

If you're arriving from a red list country (or have passed through a red list country within 10 days of arriving in the UK), you must take a pre departure COVID-19 test within 48 hours of travelling to the UK (either a PCR or lateral flow test). You must have proof of a negative result to travel.

Once you arrive in the UK, your post arrival tests will be provided as part of your 10 day, managed quarantine hotel package. You do not have to order these tests (but you must book your hotel package).

What tests do children need to take to enter the UK?

Children under 5 years old do not need to take any COVID-19 tests to enter the UK, or after arriving.

Before departing

All children arriving from a non red list country qualify as 'fully vaccinated', and do not need to take a pre departure test before travelling to the UK.

Children arriving from a red list country must follow the same rules as adults.

After arriving

Children aged 5 and above in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or 11 and above in Scotland, must take a Day 2 lateral flow test within the first 2 days of arriving in the country, regardless of vaccination status. This replaces Day 2 PCR tests for those entering after 4am on 9 January (though these will still be accepted).

Do I need to take a test if I am vaccinated?

Yes. You will need to take one or more tests if you are fully vaccinated*, whether you are leaving the UK (if required by your destination country) or entering the UK.

Your vaccination status will only affect which tests you need to take and how long you’ll need to quarantine as a result. Vaccines do not completely protect you from catching or spreading COVID-19, so it’s vital that you’re still tested to reduce this risk.

This may change as more people are vaccinated, or if there are further changes to COVID-19 regulations.

* Find out if you’re recognised as fully vaccinated.

When should I order my travel tests for entering the UK?

We recommend ordering your COVID-19 travel tests as soon as you can after booking your trip. You should do this to make sure you have the correct tests and plenty of time to take them.

Check our delivery page for more information, including steps you can take to get your results quickly during peak periods.

Can I use a free NHS provided COVID-19 test for travel?

You cannot use the NHS testing service for the purposes of travel. You must use a licensed and government approved travel test provider, such as ZAVA.

The only test you can order from the NHS is a free, confirmatory PCR test if your Day 2 lateral flow test is positive.

If I’ve already had COVID-19, do I need a test to enter the UK?

In most cases, you will still need to take a COVID-19 test to enter the UK.

There may be exemptions to this rule, but you should read the official government guidance to make sure this applies to you before travelling.

Also, don’t forget to check the travel testing requirements for any countries you're flying to from the UK (for example, if you have recovered from a positive test in the last 6 months and need a COVID-19 Recovery Certificate).

Are there any exceptions for COVID-19 testing before I travel to the UK?

You may be exempt from COVID-19 travel testing before you leave depending on your age, job or where you’re travelling from. There are also medical exemptions for people with certain conditions, or those who need emergency medical treatment.

Age

Children aged 4 and under do not need to take a COVID-19 test before travelling to the UK.

Departure location

You do not need to take a COVID-19 test before travelling to the UK if you are travelling:

  • Within the UK (i.e. from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)
  • from the Isle of Man
  • from Jersey or Guernsey

Employment

You may not need to take a test before travelling to the UK if you are exempt because of your job.

You should always check with your employer and read the official government guidelines for exemptions before you travel.

Medical exemption

If you are travelling to the UK for urgent medical treatment or accompanying someone who is, and it is not possible to get a negative COVID-19 test before travel, you could be exempt from testing.

You may also be exempt from testing before you travel if you have a medical condition that means you can’t take a test. You must provide evidence of this at check in before you travel.

Are there any exemptions from COVID-19 travel testing after I arrive in the UK?

You may be exempt from COVID-19 travel testing after arriving in the UK if you have a certain job or medical/compassionate reason.

You can see our testing guidance for children, above.

If you do not meet the criteria for exemption, you will need to take the necessary test/s depending on your circumstances.

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