Latest guidelines on Covid tests for holidaymakers heading abroad

Greece, Germany and five other European Union nations have introduced a Covid-19 vaccination certificate system for travellers, weeks ahead of the July 1 rollout of the programme across the 27-nation bloc.

The other countries starting early were Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Croatia and Poland, according to the European Commission.

Greece, which depends heavily on tourism, has been pressing for the commonly recognised certificate that uses a QR code with advanced security features.

The certificates are being issued to people who are fully vaccinated as well as those have already contracted the virus and developed antibodies and others who have had a PCR test within the past 72 hours.

The documents will have both digital and paper forms. They will be free of charge, distributed in the national language plus English and be valid in all the bloc’s countries.

Greece’s digital governance minister, Kyriakos Pierrakakis, said easier travel will open up within the EU as nations adopt the new verification standard.

The European Commission believes that people who are vaccinated should no longer have to be tested or put into quarantines, regardless of where they are travelling to or from, starting 14 days after receiving their second jab.

Other member countries, however, have not yet endorsed that recommendation.

UK Government testing guidelines

The traffic light system still involves testing even for the safest ‘green list’ countries.

NHS tests cannot generally be used for travel and private tests can cost around £100 on the high street or more than £200 at some clinics. But airlines, airports and holiday companies are starting to offer much cheaper tests to customers.



The pre-departure rapid Covid-19 testing facility which has been launched at Heathrow Airport
The pre-departure rapid Covid-19 testing facility which has been launched at Heathrow Airport

Passengers going to England from countries on the green list must take a pre-departure antigen or lateral flow test. They also have to do a PCR test on the second day after their return.

Passengers returning to England from amber-list countries must quarantine at home for 10 days and take at least two costly PCR tests.

While some destinations including Spain, the Canaries, Greece and Cyprus accept PCR tests performed at home and posted to a lab, others including Dubai stipulate that the test is taken at a registered test facility and be performed by a medic.

Testing centres must be included on the government’s approved list, which means it’s going through the accreditation process run by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS). Passengers must also ensure the test will be accepted by the destination country and the traveller will receive a ‘fit to fly’ certificate if the result is negative.

The cheapest way to get a test is through an airline or tour operator. Some include links to Covid test providers on their websites, with many offering discounts to their customers.

How to get a test before flying

Here’s a look at some of the options.

Boots

Boots is offering PCR tests in-store for £99, reduced from £120, or you can get a DIY kit delivered to your home for just £65. Order a test at Boots website here.



TUI - the UK’s biggest tour operator – is offering testing packages to customers ranging from £20 to £90
TUI – the UK’s biggest tour operator – is offering testing packages to customers ranging from £20 to £90

TUI

TUI has linked up with Chronomics to offer “easy and affordable testing packages for all TUI package holiday customers this summer.”

They’re available from just £20 per person with delivery and return costs for the tests included in the price and packages can be purchased through the TUI Chronomics booking hub.

The packages are available to TUI package holiday customers only. Flight-only and accommodation-only customers can purchase testing kits through the company’s other testing partners, Screen4 and Randox.

There are four packages available. The Green and Amber packages come with the tests you need for re-entry into the UK and are priced £20 and £50 respectively. The Green+ and Amber+ packages, priced £60 and £90 respectively, include the re-entry testing plus a PCR test kit to be used to gain entry into the country you’re travelling to. No matter where you’re travelling, you’ll need a Green or an Amber package as a minimum. Find out more here.

easyJet

easyJet has secured a half-price discount with Randox, meaning you can get home testing kits for £60 instead of £120.

You can find out more about the kits on easyjet.com website.

Ryanair

Ryanair passengers can buy discounted PCR Covid testing kits for their holidays, costing just £60.

The budget carrier has teamed up with testing brand Randox to offer a half-price discount for customers on the kits which usually cost £120.

The airline’s website offers a step-by-step guide on how to buy your testing kit. Find out more here

Jet2

Jet2 has teamed up with third-party providers to offer discounted tests from £75.

You can get the cheaper tests through the ‘Manage My Booking’ section, which will allow you to arrange a test before your holiday.

You can get the full details on jet2.com website.

Flying back to the UK

Before you enter the UK you must take a Covid-19 test up to three days before departure.

You will need to show a negative test result when you arrive in the UK, including if you are returning home. These can be accessed in resorts unless the test is included in a pre-purchased package.

You also need to fill in your passenger locator form up to 48 hours before you enter the UK – and this is not exactly user-friendly.

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Here are the requirements for flying in from red, amber and green list countries: