The five most-asked Covid travel questions according to Google

The pandemic has caused a lot of confusion for the travel industry, with rules on how to travel and where to go constantly changing.

So it’s no surprise that so many of us are turning to Google to find out what the current rules are. If you’re planning a trip soon, health and travel experts Living Care have analysed and answered the five most asked travel questions, according to Google.

1) What test do I need to travel?

If you are double vaccinated: Tests are required both before you enter the UK and after you arrive. All travellers aged 12 and over must show proof of a negative test, within two days before arriving the UK, and have the test result available for your travel. After arriving in the UK, you have two days to take another test.

If you are not double vaccinated (either neither or single jabbed): tests are also required both within two days before you enter the UK and within two days after you arrive. However, you will need to self-isolate at home for 10 days, whereas if you are double vaccinated you can avoid self-isolating, unless you test positive. 

Both tests you take must meet performance standards in order to be accepted, so check the following with your travel provider:

  • The test is a nucleic acid test (PCR test) or
  • A LAMP test
  • ≥97% specificity, ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml

Remember: the free NHS lateral flow tests are not accepted as a form of testing, so make sure you choose a reputable private test provider.

Finally, you must self-isolate on arrival to the UK while you wait for your result. Depending on the provider, you can receive same day results or wait up to two extra days. 

2) How to get a PCR test for travel?

With many companies currently offering PCR travel tests, and especially with some charging upwards of £300 per test, it can be difficult to know which company to go with. Firstly, choose a company which has completed a declaration stating their tests meet the minimum standards for private sector providers.

If your company does not have this on their website, or cannot prove this, then it’s best to avoid as their tests may not be valid. If you aren’t sure about a company, check the site as they have listed all the approved providers.

3) How much is a covid test for travel? 

The price of covid tests remain unregulated, with prices costing upwards of £200. The average cost of a PCR which you complete yourself is £59 for tests you complete and send off yourself. There is an option for express testing at airports, but these can be more expensive at around £70-£80. 

4) What are the red list countries?

With the identification of the Omicron variant, there are countries which have been targeted and placed on the red list. The red list is reassessed and updated every three weeks, and for an up to date red list, please see here.

If returning from any of the above countries then you must pay and self-isolate in a government approved hotel for 10 days, which costs around £2,285 for one person aged 12 and over, and £325 for children aged 5-11. 

5) Do children need a PCR test for travel?

For arrival into England, Scotland and Ireland, children aged 11 and under do not need to take a test, however anyone 12 and over will need to provide both tests. The rules differ in Wales, as all children ages 5 and over are required to take a day 2 test after arriving in the country and all children aged 12 and over must provide both tests. 

With pre-travel tests starting at £19.99 and day two PCR tests starting at £59, The Living Care Group provide quick and easy covid testing for travel and more. They also provide “collect and drop” and “post and drop” services which offer same day results, seven days a week.

Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino