What you need to know about Covid-19 testing rules for international travel

Portrait of a Latin American Woman traveling by plane wearing a facemask during the COVID-19 pandemi

You need to book a Day 2 and Day 8 test before you take a flight into the UK - Credit: Getty Images

The Covid rules on travel and testing are confusing – and anyone thinking of travelling internationally needs clarity. 
Here, Daniel Cheung from Wimpole Medical, a private testing centre in Upper Street, outlines the latest rules on international travel, and how you can book your Day 2 and Day 8 tests locally. 

What is Day 2 and Day 8 testing? 
It is now mandatory that all international arrivals coming back into England need to book COVID-19 PCR tests before they start boarding. Without booking the tests prior to departure they could be fined and will definitely not be allowed to board their flight back. The tests need to be done on day two and day eight after their international arrival and the traveller has to self-quarantine for 10 days as a minimum. As you are not permitted to leave your home during your self-quarantine, we can post a test to the address you’re isolating at or if you would like help with the process we can visit you and carry out the test.

What if I came back from a red listed country? 
If you have arrived back from an international destination that is on the UK government red list, then you will have to go into a UK government-approved managed quarantine facility. If the country you departed is not on the red list then you can self-quarantine at home. 

What is the purpose of Day 2 and Day 8 testing? 
The reason for imposing this testing is the UK government wants travellers to be screened for any COVID-19 variants of concern. It can then act quickly and isolate the cases to help the country beat COVID-19. 

I am only staying in England for less than 10 days and won’t need both of the tests, can I only book for one? 
Yes, you book just one of the tests if your stay in England is less than 10 days. 

Do I need to pay for the tests up front? 
Yes for Day 2 and Day 8 testing, all tests have to be booked upfront and unfortunately there are no refunds on this. This is to stop people from booking their tests and arriving back into the country and not carrying out the testing. Once the tests are booked up and paid for, a booking reference is given which needs to be used for the Passenger Location Form. 

How can I leave self-quarantine early? 
You will need to book an additional test at Day 5, which is known as the Test to Release test. If your results are negative, you can leave your self-quarantine early, providing you are not in a managed quarantine facility and go back to society. It will still be mandatory for you to do the Day 8 test regardless. 
Do I need to be tested before I travel into the UK?
Yes. You need to take a COVID-19 test and get a negative result during the three days before you travel to the UK. 

How do I book the Day 2, Day 8 and Day 5 (Test to Release) tests? 
These tests are bookable on the Wimpole Medical website or by calling our number.  

Wimpole Medical, 293 Upper Street, Islington, N1 2TU; 0203 095 3000; wimpolemed.com