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This is the covid testing I needed to visit Gibraltar last week

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Slightly jealous that Rhys had got to spend a week in Portugal trying out five star resorts recently, I decided to see what the one remaining realistic Green List destination – Gibraltar – had to offer.

A series of reviews from this trip will launch this week.

Perhaps the most relevant article, however, is this one. It is a detailed story of the testing you need to enter Gibraltar and to return to the UK.

Coronavirus testing to visit Gibraltar

British Airways has just launched a new BA CityFlyer route from London City Airport to Gibraltar to add to the existing Heathrow service.

Because the City flights only operate on Monday and Friday, I chose to fly down from Heathrow on Wednesday – a sensible 11.15 departure time – and return on the 17.55 flight to City on Friday.

I booked the City flight to avoid any immigration delays at Heathrow. Post booking, the increased restrictions on Portugal flights and the move of Red List flights to Terminal 3 meant that I needn’t have bothered – Heathrow would have been empty too. A Heathrow flight leaves two hours before the City flight on Friday.

(EDIT: A reader who flew into Heathrow on Sunday said that she had a 2.5 hour wait to clear passport control, so it seems I was mistaken. Choosing the London City flights may well be a sensible idea.)

What covid testing is required to visit Gibraltar?

As we covered here, Gibraltar has recently stepped up its testing regime for anyone travelling from the UK. This change caught a lot of people on the hop, and my ‘sold out’ hotel had lots of availability within 48 hours of the announcement.

If you are not double vaccinated, you now need to arrive with a negative test. This requirement applies to anyone 12+, so if you have children aged 12-18 they will have no choice but to get a test done. See the website link above to see what tests are currently accepted.

The only upside is that there is no time gap required after your second vaccination. You are free to travel to Gibraltar as soon as the 2nd vaccination is showing in the NHS app, which is usually within 24-48 hours.

I am double vaccinated, so this latest restriction did not impact me. This meant I ‘only’:

  • had to complete the Gibraltar Passenger Locator Form (you cannot complete this until you have a seat number for your flight)
  • book a lateral flow test at Gibraltar airport for my arrival (free, but see below)
  • complete a UK Goverment Passenger Locator Form
  • book a ‘Day 0-2’ test for my return

Simple …..

Step 1 – complete the Gibraltar Passenger Locator Form

There is a link to the Passenger Locator Form on this page of the Visit Gibraltar website.

You need to upload proof of your two vaccinations. You can do this using the data in the NHS app if you live in England.

It wasn’t clear exactly what was needed. I contemplated taking a screenshot from the app, but it seemed more ‘official’ to download the PDF certificate and upload that, even though it contains identical information.

The rest of form was quick and easy to complete with my personal details. Note that you cannot complete the form until you have a seat number for your flight.

Gibraltar covid testing

Step 2 – take the free Lateral Flow Test on arrival

You need to pre-book a Lateral Flow Test for your arrival in Gibraltar. Pre-booking is essential, since you need to show the booking information to immigration in Gibraltar on arrival.

The test itself is free. You walk out of the airport and there are a number of testing huts next to the terminal to your right.

If you are returning to the UK within 72 hours, as I was, you can use this arrival test as your ‘fit to fly’ departure test to show at check-in.

However …. it is more complex than it needs to be.

My understanding was that I could book my free test and, on the spot, pay £30 to ‘upgrade’ to the ‘fit to fly’ test and receive the necessary paperwork.

I was wrong.

If you are returning within 72 hours you need to pre-book TWO tests, assuming you want to get it over and done with in one go.

You need to book the free arrival test AND a departure test, which costs £30, payable online. This meant I had to stand outside the testing hut and book a second test via my mobile phone for £30 before the test sample could be taken. This was, luckily, a quick process.

For clarity, you only take one test even though you have booked two.

It is a slightly odd set-up – you don’t go into the testing hut. You put your face near the glass and the nurse reaches out through the counter and sticks the swab up your nose!

The testing centre puts two bar codes on the sample and I received two text messages with my results approximately 45 minutes after taking the test. I also received one email containing the ‘fit to fly’ paperwork which BA would require to fly me home.

If you are returning to the UK more than 72 hours after arrival in Gibraltar, you will need to book a 2nd test nearer your return date.

However, you are given a 24 hour window to take your arrival test. If you were staying for three nights, you could delay your initial test by a day so that it is within 72 hours of your departure and so valid as your ‘fit to fly’ test. You will still need to pay the £30 but it reduces the number of tests you need to take to one.

Step 3 – book your ‘Day 0 to Day 2’ arrivals test in the UK

This is Step 3, and not Step 4, because you cannot complete your UK Government Passenger Locator Form without a test booking reference number.

There is a big misconception about the ‘Day 2’ test for arrivals from Green List countries. It is NOT a ‘Day 2’ test. It is a ‘Day 0, Day 1 or Day 2’ test. Nothing stops you taking it as soon as you step off your inbound flight.

I was returning to City Airport on the British Airways flight, which landed at 7.50pm.

Luckily for me, the Collinson on-site testing centre at London City is open until late on Fridays. Times vary on other days. Using code LCYTEST, I booked myself a PCR test for £66.

I could have done this slightly cheaper by ordering a test to take at home and then submitting it to a lab, but I wanted the process over and done with.

By using the Collinson facility at City Airport, I could clear immigration, be tested and be on my way home within 20 minutes of getting off my aircraft.

London City Airport covid testing centre

Step 4 – complete the UK Government Passenger Locator Form

Once you have your ‘Day 2’ test booking reference, you can go here and complete the UK Passenger Locator Form.

You can complete this from 48 hours before you are due to arrive back in the UK.

You will need your seat number and your ‘Day 2’ test booking reference.

Step 5 – take your ‘Day 2’ test (in my case, immediately after landing)

This could not have been more straightforward – as simple as the process in Gibraltar.

I walked off the aircraft, cleared passport control and walked down to the newly expanded Collinson test centre, which is just outside the terminal building.

Having done this, I strongly recommend it. Pay for an airport test which you can do as soon as you get off the aircraft and get the whole process out of the way. You can then arrive home and get on with your life. My result was emailed to me on Saturday, but it doesn’t matter how long it takes because you are not restricted.

Conclusion

This is, of course, a totally crazy process. Despite being double vaccinated and travelling to a destination where every adult was vaccinated by April, I was still required to take two tests for a total cost of £96.

The only upside was that the process was quick. It took me longer to complete the online forms than it took to actually take the two tests, and the disruption to my trip was minimal.

For me, travelling on my own and writing the cost off as a business expense, it was manageable. For a family of four planning a holiday, it mounts up.

If a family of four had two unvaccinated children aged 12+, you would need to add in the cost of two tests for your kids before you fly, even if the adults are exempt. You have reached around £500 of testing costs by that point, to visit probably the safest place in the world ….

These articles are also part of our Gibraltar series …. a review of the 5-star Sunborn Yacht Hotel (click here), and an overview of the other three acceptable Gibraltar hotel options – The Rock, Elliott and Holiday Inn Express.

Comments (185)

  • Nick G says:

    I don’t know about anyone else but that’s just cemented to me why I’m not even thinking of a family holiday abroad this year until we know more. I’m even ummming and ahhhing about pulling the plug to Bali next April that’s how cautious I am of this mess of a system.

    These testing companies must be laughing all the way to the bank

    • Nick says:

      Couldn’t agree more!

    • Rob says:

      The testing is a doddle though. I have a Collinson account set up now and could book future City tests in 5 mins – and indeed take them in 5 mins. Apart from the cost it takes minimal time.

      • Simon Cross says:

        BA are offering discounts on “day 2” tests including Collinson “on arrival day 2 tests”

      • Stephen Young says:

        I’ve had great experiences with Collinson too, but bizarrely the testing on arrival at LCY from Collinson has different hours on different days. The GIB-LCY flight on Mondays arrives at 19:50, but the testing centre closes at 19:30.

    • ChrisW says:

      People said last year “I’ll wait until next year”

      • Mike says:

        definitely wait till next year for holiday travel

      • Tracey says:

        Big mistake. Visited last Summer with no testing requirements at all!

        • Alex Sm says:

          I can’t stop thinking that travel in 2020 on the midst of the pandemic was much easier than in 2021 when we are kind out of the woods

    • Rich says:

      Agreed, the first line of Rob’s conclusion sums up my view entirely.

  • LindaP says:

    What are your options if you only have an ol IPhone that will not download the NHS app?

    • Rob says:

      You need to call the special number and get a paper certificate posted to you, to scan / photograph and upload.

      • The Original Nick says:

        Thanks Rob.

      • Simon Cross says:

        I got one of these immediately it was available. Don’t want to risk my phone going down or no internet connection when I arrive in Iceland in a few days time.

        PS – a destination which is Green and with loads to see and do.

    • The Original Nick says:

      I’d like to know this too as I refuse to download the NHS. I don’t like or trust the Hancocks of this world.

      • Simon Cross says:

        NHS App is brilliant. All records are there plus all medications and repeat prescriptions can be ordered a a single click.

        Also if you need a QR code on your covid vaccine certificate (which you may need for some things like events) then this is the only way to get it.

      • AJA says:

        I’m with Simon on this. The NHS app is brilliant. If you think the likes of Hancock will use the app for nefarious purposes you’re ignoring the possibility that he already has access to your NHS records anyway. The NHS has a fantastic computerised record system which staff can access anywhere in England. Just turn up at any A&E and say your name and date of birth and they will have your records and will be able to you who your doctor is. The NHS app is your personal window to that data. I’d be more concerned that your other smartphone apps might be able to access your NHS data once you open the app to view data. (I’m not concerned BTW, just trying to put the ‘concern’ into perspective).

  • Helen Gibbons says:

    I think the Caleta would also be a worthy hotel choice in Gibraltar.

  • Simon says:

    £30 to stick a second bar code on a sample has to go down as one of the rip offs of the year.

    • MikeL says:

      Totally agree

    • Rob says:

      They have to prepare the certificate for you.

      • meta says:

        which is basically 2-3 clicks to load the details you’ve already supplied when booking…

    • sayling says:

      You could argue you are ripping Gib off by taking an arrival test at zero charge.

      • Rob says:

        Indeed. With no VAT, the Government gets naff all cash from your spending except for the indirect benefits of supporting employment etc.

  • JohnD says:

    Do you have to test on arrival even if you are in transfer, that is immediately crossing the boarder to Spain

    • Rob says:

      You still seem to have 24 hours looking at the website. Remember thousands come in daily for school or work – no capacity to test them all.

      • David says:

        You are immigration-ally entering Gibraltar.
        The test is free.
        Yes your are expected to take.a test.

        Equally, there is a political dimension here. As Rob mentions thousands of people cross the border everyday, it is very important that Gibraltar does not become a soft route to Spain etc. Especially with Schengen talks going on.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    Rob good article fully explaining how to get in and out
    Not for me Gibraltar been twice that’s enough lol
    According to statistics “one in every 200” coming are positive on arrival back from an Amber country
    I presume that’s the reason the Indian variant spread so quickly
    With the same reasoning it’s safe to assume every flight has someone with Covid on it
    Not looking good that there will “never” be another lockdown ?

    • ChrisW says:

      The Indian variant spread so quickly because Boris delayed putting India on the red list so he could sign a trade deal and all those returning from India when it was her did not self isolate.

      Quite different a to a fully vaccinated person visiting somewhere with no cases.

    • Anna says:

      Chris, it did say that none of the positive tests were a variant of concern!
      There was an interesting piece on the news yesterday saying that the Delta variant has spread so widely here because large numbers of people were arriving in April who were already infected. Countries with fewer arrivals from India are finding less spread, even though the variant has been identified.

      • Yuff says:

        Anna
        It was obvious it would happen when you get airlines putting in extra flights to beat the red list deadline.
        How many thousands of passengers from areas that, how shall we say, aren’t observing guidance came into the UK.
        Someone used the phrase aren’t Anglo saxon…..how apt…..

    • Yuff says:

      ChrisH
      Where did you see that figure?
      I’ve read today 1 in 750 tested positive returning from amber listed countries in the 3 weeks until June 9th

    • TGLoyalty says:

      -0 out of 500 for Green
      -89 out of 23500 for amber with 0 variants of concern or under investigation – 151 out of 167 had 0 cases
      -435 out of 24599 for red – 89 VOC/VOI even though 341 out of the 435 were from India/Bangladesh/Pakistan. 34 out of 50 had 0 cases.

      99 out of 22500 with unclear/mixed destinations of origin – 25 VOC/VOI

      In the same period there were over 95k positive cases in the U.K. so about 0.67% came from travel but only 0.09% from travel to green/amber countries.

      • Yuff says:

        TG

        How can those figures be correct 😳
        Or maybe they are selective, I remember a certain minister, during that period, having to take part in a pilot test scheme to avoid isolation due to a close contact in a green list country…….

        • TGLoyalty says:

          It’s all testing data for May 20th to June 9th (latest published)

          Maybe his close contact never returned to the U.K. or went elsewhere in the 10 days before returning so is within the amber positives.

        • David S says:

          The Portuguese have a perception that the certain Minister who went to the match in Porto actually caught Covid and refused to Quarantine when he got back to the U.K. We were asked directly about the case. The locals got the facts wrong but until corrected Perception is Reality

  • TGLoyalty says:

    Reports suggest testing won’t go away.

    In the USA fully vaccinated international travellers still have to take a pre departure LFD and after 3-5 days after arrival.

    No testing within USA

  • Bluekjp says:

    The only link missing would be the one to pre-book the arrival test in GIB which the article says is essential. Can you supply please.

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