With rules constantly changing and medical lingo to contend with it can be difficult to understand which Covid test is required for your trip. Please check the government website regularly prior to travel as rules and requirements are constantly changing. We have pulled together some of the common questions we get asked below, however if you need further support or advise please contact us at hello@travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk

What Covid test do I need to go on holiday?

Most countries require you to have a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours before you are due to travel, sometime less. It is important to research the country you are travelling to as specifications for entry will differ. Some countries will only accept results from a PCR test, however others such as Italy and Portugal will accept results from a lateral flow test. It may also be required that the Covid test is carried out by a professional as opposed to a home-testing kit. Under no circumstance are the free NHS Covid testing kits accepted as a negative result.

There are now a few countries, including Spain, that will accept either proof of both vaccinations or a negative Covid test result. You will need to check what documents are needed to show you have both vaccines as this will differ between countries. Specific entry requirements can be found on the Government website.

What is the difference between a PCR test and a lateral flow test?

A PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is used to detect a specific organism, such as a virus. The test can detect the COVID-19 virus following a nasal and throat swab. A positive result means you are likely to have Covid and a negative result means you do not have the virus at the time of testing. These tests are sent away to a lab to determine the results and is the most accurate way of detecting the COVID-19 virus.

A lateral flow test is generally used if you are not showing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. It can detect the COVID-19 virus quickly, at home, but is not as accurate as a PCR test. Some countries are now accepting a negative lateral flow test as part of their entry requirements. These tests are generally cheaper than a PCR test.

How do I get a PCR test?

There is a list of reputable PCR test companies on the Government website, click here. The cost and efficiency of tests will differ between countries so it is worth comparing which test would be most suitable for you. These tests are sent to your home address for you to complete and send back to the laboratory, you will then need to wait for your results. Please allow sufficient time to get your results, but also ensure it is within the required time frame depending on the country you are travelling to.

You can also book and have a PCR test at pop up test centres, clinics or some stores including Boots. Some countries will require your test is carried out by a professional so you will need to research PCR test centres near you. Again, you should allow sufficient time for your results to be returned to you before travelling.

All tests must be booked before travelling, including tests required once you have arrived back in the UK.

How do I get a lateral flow test?

You can order a lateral flow test from a reputable company and the testing kit is sent to your home address for you to complete. Most companies require you to send a picture of your test result to them and you will then be issued with a certificate, typically within a few hours, confirming your test result. It is important you do send your test result back to the company as failure to do so may result in a fine. Not all counties accept this method of testing, so please check before ordering. You may also be able to complete a lateral flow test at your local pharmacy or clinic.

All tests must be booked before travelling, including tests required once you have arrived back in the UK.

What happens if my Covid test or the results don’t arrive on time?

Due to the tight turnaround time of 72 hours, in most cases, some private Covid testing companies have been struggling to provide people with their results on time. This has left many people unable to travel to their chosen destination meaning they need to delay or cancel their trip. Some airlines are more lenient than others and are allowing passengers to push back their holiday travel date free of charge if their results are not returned on time. You will need to check your airline’s individual terms and conditions. Accommodation providers and package holidays may also be able to assist you, but again you will need to check their procedures with them.

You should not board your plane before receiving your test results in the hope they will arrive by the time you land. If they do not, you will be refused entry to the country and have to make your own way home. Your travel insurance policy will not cover the costs for this or any missed holiday as it is your responsibility to ensure you have the right documentation to enter the country.

At the moment, travel insurance policies will not cover for cancellation or travel delays due to Covid test results not arriving on time. However, if this changes, we will be sure to update this information.

Compensation-wise, you will need to contact the Covid testing company directly to see whether they are compensating customer for delayed test results. This may also be something to check when researching a suitable company to book with.

Can I use an NHS Covid test?

NHS Covid tests are not permitted to be used for travel and will not be accepted on arrival.