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Alongside getting travel vaccinations and insurance, organising Covid-19 testing is now an essential part of any travel preparations.

When travelling internationally there are two sets of testing requirements that you need to consider. The first are those set out by the UK government, which include requirements for before you return to the UK and for once you are back. The second are those requirements set out by the country or countries you are visiting.

UK Government requirements

Each region within the UK has classified all countries as either Green, Amber or Red, and the testing requirements on return are different for each classification. Testing requirements also vary based on whether you are fully vaccinated. The government define fully vaccinated as having had both doses of the vaccine, administered by the NHS, with the second dose being completed at least 14 days ago.

The requirements vary between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and are outlined if you follow the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus.

Destination requirements

There will also be entry requirements for your destination country or countries. Most often this involves taking a PCR test shortly before you arrive in your destination. You should check the precise requirements of the country or countries that you are visiting in order to organise the tests that you need. A few countries also have exit requirements, which may vary from the UK’s entry requirements, so it is important to check the information thoroughly. The FCDO outlines all entry requirements within its travel advice pages: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Audley approach

For all trips there is a requirement to take a test before you return to the UK. In order to make this process as smooth as possible Audley is able to include this test as part of your trip. This service allows you to pre-order a test to take with you on holiday and pre-book a video appointment, to be held at the end of your trip, with a qualified medical professional. The medical professional will verify your results on the video call and immediately provide the required certification to enable you to travel back to the UK. Your Country Specialist will provide all the relevant details to enable you to order the test.

For all other testing requirements we have identified a number of providers that offer a comprehensive range of testing options at discounted rates for Audley clients. Please click through to their websites for details of the services they offer and the costs, and speak to your country specialist about the discounts available.

Testing providers

If you are returning to England or Northern Ireland you are able to choose the test provider for your post-travel tests from a list provided by the UK government. Many private facilities in the UK now offer testing services specifically for travellers, providing both rapid results and certificates that are acceptable for international travel and for the requirements once back in the UK.

If you are returning to Scotland or Wales the testing that you require has to be carried out by the designated government provider. You can find the relevant information below:

Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-international-travel-quarantine/pages/red-amber-and-green-list-countries/

Wales: https://gov.wales/rules-foreign-travel-and-wales-coronavirus-covid-19-html#section-48358

Breathe Assured is a Trust Pilot 4.8 star rated test provider. For travel they specialise in testing for return to the UK, which is supervised online by a medical professional. They also provide rapid antigen tests where these are acceptable for entry in to your destination county and have a partnership with Randox for PCR testing.

Qured provide all the testing options that you need whether your destination country is classified as Green or Amber. They offer PCR self-testing for in the UK and rapid antigen testing supervised by a medical professional for when you need to return to the UK.

Randox Health offers self-testing and in-clinic visits. Its in-house laboratory facilities enable fast processing and a speedy turnaround time for test results. Randox Health provide a number of testing packages, depending on your requirements and offer travel industry discounts.

Express Test specialise in PCR tests taken in testing centres across the UK. They look to return results by 10pm the next day. A good option if you don’t want the uncertainty of relying on postal services.

Our colleagues at AITO have also been working hard to research testing providers and currently have a number of partnerships that offer discounts:

Nomad Travel Clinics is well established and has efficient systems set up to meet the needs of travellers, and it offers other routine travel services, like travel vaccines and malaria tablets. Nomad’s new range of Covid-19 tests should meet most destination requirements, and it provides options for self-testing at home or in-clinic visits. To receive a 10% reduction on Nomad’s Covid-19 tests, please enter the discount code AITO10 at check-out.

CHB Medical UK are an experienced diagnostic testing provider. They focus on PCR testing and are government approved to provide Fit to Fly, Test to Release and Day 2 and 8 testing. To receive a 20% reduction on CHB’s Covid-19 tests, please enter the discount code AITO20 at check-out.

The above are only a few of the many private UK test providers. The UK government has additional information that can help you find test providers, which you can find by following this link: https://www.find-travel-test-provider.service.gov.uk/test-type.

Other travel preparations

In some UK regions testing requirements vary based on your vaccination status. A number of destination countries require proof of double vaccination to enter the country, meaning that proof of your vaccination status is becoming more important for travel.

For people in England who are registered with a GP the government is providing that proof via NHS app technology. Paper alternatives are also available by calling 119. Within the NHS app you can demonstrate your current vaccination status, including which vaccine you have had and when. For further information on this process, and how to get a paper alternative, please check the government website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/demonstrating-your-covid-19-vaccination-status-when-travelling-abroad. Please note this is a different app from the NHS Covid-19 app which is used for Test and Trace.

In Scotland proof is available via the NHS Inform patient portal or a paper alternative is available via the Freephone Covid Status Helpline https://www.nhsinform.scot/covid-19-vaccine/after-your-vaccine/get-a-record-of-your-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-status.

If you were vaccinated in Wales you can get proof via the NHS Covid Pass. You will need an NHS login in order to access the pass. More information is available here https://gov.wales/get-nhs-covid-pass-show-your-vaccination-status-travel.

Northern Ireland have a process in place which will enable you to get a paper certificate as proof of vaccination. As their process is evolving it is best to check for the most up-to-date advice here: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19.

For all regions your NHS vaccination card is not considered acceptable proof for travel.