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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)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Lbc says:

    The UK travel “policy” is a nonsensical joke designed to push people to overpay to stay in rainy britain this summer.

    Asking vaccinated people to test makes zero sense.
    And keep in mind the UK has, once again, a higher rate of covid cases than basically anywhere else in europe right now.

    • Anna says:

      I wouldn’t mind testing if they would just get rid of the quarantine for amber countries!

      • Chris Heyes says:

        Anna That would be easy they could just say you cannot fly to Amber countries
        That would get rid of the quarantine bit, just testing for Green countries

    • Paul says:

      But the good news is that the residents of plague island are not permitted to enter much of western Europe and thus they keep the infection rates lower.
      Who knew they could control their borders from with the EU?
      Who knew closing your border to flights from pestilence areas would let you recover from Covid sooner and allow your citizens to attend football matches eg Copenhagen last night?
      Who knew voting for a populist clown would end in tears?

      • Anna says:

        What are you on about? Western Europe was Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar and France last time I looked. All welcoming Brits, without even testing in some cases!

        • David says:

          Remind me what Italy and France are saying Anna?

          • Travel Strong says:

            Turin around, your monet is no good here.
            Cannoli take so much, we are bordeaux this.
            We are gracci, and we hate toulouse.

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        Lol, Portugal was literally begging for uk visitors. Continue to live in ur bubble.

  • VINZ says:

    I really don’t see why we all rushed to get vaccinated if then we have to test, quarantine, spend so much money due to a nonsensical travel policy…

    I should’ve done what those no vaxxers do…

    • Tracey says:

      In order to avoid getting covid/ long covid, to avoid passing the virus on to anyone we meet…..but you knew that anyway.
      This travel malarky is just the icing on the cake, which will come eventually.

      • Margaret says:

        Well I have long covid and my first Pfizer vaccination made it much worse. I’ve now loud ringing and ticking in my head 24/7, dizzy spells and joint pain, which were almost not there before it. I’m too scared to have the second one as life wouldn’t be worth living out was worse. That leaves me with only one vaccine (no good for travelling etc) despite being tested recently for research and having a good level of antibodies from the covid infection, presumably amplified by the vaccine.

        • Tracey says:

          We’ve also had reports of the first Pfizer jab getting rid of long covid symptoms, so it can work both ways.

          If you are serious about not having the second jab, and the doctors agree, you could have AZ as your second dose.

    • Ian says:

      Because the vaccine isn’t 100% effective.

      • Rob says:

        I suggest you look up the odds of dropping dead in the next 12 months OF ANY CAUSE given your age. It might put your thinking in perspective.

        • Chris Heyes says:

          Rob 74 this year so my odds are not in my favour lol
          Probably even worse next year, year after ect ect lol
          My only consolation is I’ve had and having a totally brilliant life (up to now) lol
          bin bag for me when I go, although my kids wont respect my wish lol

      • TGLoyalty says:

        those pesky #scariants which every vaccine is known to reduce the risk of severe disease for the vast majority of people and death for nearly all at risk

  • Travel Strong says:

    Excellent plan to publish this article immediately / ahead of the other articles. Gives some useful clarification which I have not found elsewhere for those about to travel imminently. e.g. . book the arrival test and the predeparture test as 2 bookings to do on arrival (if <72hrs trip).

    • Waribai says:

      The only caveat being that the rule of needing a pre-arrival vaccine or test was new as of 13th June and you can almost be certain that unless you are travelling within the next couple of weeks, the rules are likely to have been amended again by the time you set off!

  • Graeme says:

    I’d just like to thank Rob for this very advice when I e-mailed him last Friday. I was going on Saturday and had planned on asking them at the testing window about the departure test – Rob’s advice was to book it in advance and get the arrival and departure test done in one, as he explained above. MUCH better than having to go back, although it was a pleasant walk from the HIX.

    Took us about 1h 10m from getting off the plane to being in our room, which included wasting quite a lot of time watching the plane we arrived on leave again at the crossing barrier and a stop to buy a drink.

    • Graeme says:

      It grated having to pay for the departure test at all, but that’s another issue.

      • Anna says:

        How was the HIE? Got 10 nights booked there in August! Knew that stash of IHG points would come in handy one day.

  • TimM says:

    The UK Government might as well dispense with the pretence of testing and just collect £100 in cash in a bucket from every arrivee.

    Rob there is no such thing as a five star resort. Only five star hotels. Please wash your mouth out.

  • Iain says:

    Rob, you mentioned a cityflyer route from Edinburgh to Gib. Do you have any details on that? I can’t find any reference to it via Google of on the BA site.
    Would save me half the avios and be a great direct route.

  • Ross Parker says:

    BA’s booking system still says some GIB flights are leaving from LHR T3 (in August). Should I assume this is nonsense, and they’re all from T5?

    • Rob says:

      Yes

    • James Vickers says:

      Mine currently says departing T5 when I go end of June and says arriving T3 when I return in July, am also assuming that will change?

  • Arabella Tullo says:

    Hi Rob, we are flying into Gib on Sunday 18th July then walking over border into Spain. Both doubly vaccinated, will we need to book a test at Gib airport on arrival there?

    • Rob says:

      I would read the Visit Gibraltar website clearly. As a non-resident they may ask for a test result at the border.

      • David says:

        Crossing the border is a matter for Spain policy.

        Gibraltar will expect you to book a (free) test on arrival in Gibraltar.

        Currently no requirement for tests to cross border. But your passport will be stamped unless you have residency in Gibraltar or Spain.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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