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Testing for travel

Confused about testing? Here’s some handy information, based on the official guidance from the UK government’s (NHS; and US government’s respective health departments (CDCFDA) relating to tests.

The two main tests for travellers are:

  1. PCR tests – essential for most international travel and they’re sent to a lab to be checked – for travel purposes it’s the private, paid for tests that are required (sadly not the free ones from the NHS)
  2. Antigen tests – only for people who do not have symptoms, they give a result in 30 minutes using a device similar to a pregnancy test

Use our search results to check which type of test you will need for entry into your chosen destination if needed. Note that some hotels, venues and entertainment stadiums may have testing requirements too so don’t forget to check in advance!

What tests to do I need to enter/return to the UK?

To enter or return to the UK you will need to take one test 72 hours prior to departure and a minimum of one PCR test once in the UK. Specific requirements will be based on whether your origin country is classified as green, amber or red under the government traffic light system – see our guide here and the updated list here.

Pre-departure tests to allow you to arrive in the UK must meet strict standards, and you may not be fined £500 or stopped from entering the country if the test does not meet these standards. Unfortunately, it’s your responsibility to ensure you get the right test that meets the above requirements. Unlocked Travel users receive an exclusive 30% discount on your at-home COVID-19 tests at this link with LetsGetChecked which can be used as pre-departure tests.

Where can I book a private test?

In the UK, if you’re not eligible for testing through a local NHS clinic or testing centre (check here), there are a number of places offering in-clinic or at-home testing. We have partnerships with LetsGetChecked and Nomad Travel, dependent on the test you require.

Note that any tests available publicly (the free ones!) are only for domestic use and not for international travel which is why private testing is needed.

Do children need need to have a Covid-19 test to travel? 

When arriving back to the UK, children under 18 do NOT need a test and do not need to do any of the required testing during quarantine. However testing rules may apply upon arrival at your destination and these vary from country to country so do ensure that you check the restrictions at the link below.

Get 30% off your at-home PCR test!

In the UK, Ireland, USA or Canada, Unlocked Travel users receive an exclusive 30% discount on your at-home COVID-19 tests at this link with LetsGetChecked using the code UNLOCKED30, suitable for those aged 2+. Test results should be available within 48hrs, however it can take up to 72hrs from the time the sample is received by the lab.

Visit our FAQs for more information and other key details. Links to specific country entry requirements are provided as part of our travel search.

Get 10% off your express or sameday PCR test!

Thanks to our partnership with Nomad Travel, Unlocked Travel users can also receive 10% off express and sameday PCR tests for travel .

Book your Day 2 and Day 8 tests

Book tests for your arrival to the UK through Nomad Travel at £55 each (or £99 when booking both tests)

Exclusive 30% offer!

Get an exclusive 30% off at-home COVID-19 PCR test kits required for international travel with LetsGetChecked & Unlocked Travel.

Order now