Features

Which Covid-19 tests allow you to travel?

5 Apr 2022 by Hannah Brandler
heathrow testing

While many countries are removing the need to provide a Covid-19 test if you have been fully vaccinated, there are still countries that require proof of a negative test for entry.

Additionally, some countries do not classify visitors as fully vaccinated if they have not had a booster jab.

See our features ‘Which countries require a Covid-19 booster jab?’ and ‘Where can I travel without a Covid-19 test?’

So which test do you have to take for which country? You’ll find some answers here, as well as links to useful resources where you can find further information. We will keep this updated to correspond to the latest travel restrictions.

Note that many countries will accept either a PCR test OR a rapid antigen test, though timeframes will vary.

PCR test

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is the most widely accepted form of testing. It identifies if the virus is currently in your body by detecting the genetic material in the virus (known as RNA) through a swab sample from your nose or throat, which is then sent to a lab and is analysed by scientists to provide a positive or negative result.

Many countries advise that you take the test no more than 72 hours before arrival.

Here are the countries that require proof of a negative PCR test when travelling from the UK.

Note that the European Council has recommended that member states of the European Union lift testing and quarantine requirements from March 1 for travellers who have been fully vaccinated with an EU or WHO-approved vaccine, or who have recovered from the virus within 180 days prior to travel.

  • Anguilla
  • Australia
  • Argentina
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Chile
  • Cuba
  • Ethiopia
  • Guyana
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Jamaica
  • Malaysia
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Nepal
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • Rwanda
  • South Korea
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Uganda
  • United States
  • Uruguay

Additional tests and quarantine may be required at the destination. Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website for up-to-date entry requirements for more destinations.

LAMP test

Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) is a rapid version of the PCR test, which again uses a swab sample from the nose or throat.

Results can be achieved within a couple of hours because the samples do not require alternating temperature cycles but instead a constant temperature.

The good news: the samples can be analysed on-site rather than sent to a lab.

The bad news: the tests are considered less accurate than a PCR test.

Countries that accept LAMP tests include:

  • South Korea
Collinson-Covid-Testing-ASC_3220

Antigen test

These tests also require a swab sample from the nose and/or throat and detect proteins which are specific to coronavirus.

It’s far quicker than the PCR test, returning results within 15-30 minutes and samples do not have to be sent to a lab.

Countries that accept antigen tests include:

  • Argentina
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Brazil
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Guyana
  • Israel
  • Jamaica
  • Turks and Caicos
  • United States

Self-sampling

The at-home tests require people to collect saliva in a sample pot and send it off to a lab. These are largely not accepted for travel as the result may be inaccurate if the sample is not taken properly.

Antibody test

This test detects the presence of antibodies in the blood, which (if present) suggests that you may have been previously exposed to or infected with the virus. The test involves a blood sample from a finger prick test or standard blood test.

The test cannot detect if you are currently infected with coronavirus – it can take 1-3 weeks after infection for your body to make antibodies.

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