Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

UK introduces pre-departure Covid tests from Tuesday 7th

Links on Head for Points may support the site by paying a commission.  See here for all partner links.

The Government has announced this evening that pre-departure tests will be required for anyone landing in the UK after 4am on Tuesday for anyone travelling to the UK.

This is despite Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, telling The Daily Telegraph on Thursday that it wouldn’t happen, and that it would be ‘killing off the travel sector’.

A family of four will now be looking at £500 of testing purely to return to the UK – a lateral flow or PCR test before the flight and a PCR test after the flight – on top of any testing required by the country you are visiting. The cost could easily top £750 for a family.

The official wording is here.

Testing applies to arrivals aged 12 and over, with limited exceptions.

The test must be taken in the two days before departure. If you fly to the UK on a Wednesday, the test must be taken on Monday or Tuesday.

A lateral flow or PCR test is acceptable, as long as an acceptable certificate can be produced.

We reviewed the Qured video testing system here and I used it myself when returning from Spain in the Summer. It was an efficient system but clearly needs a degree of forward planning – anyone abroad now and returning to the UK on Tuesday will need to source a test locally.

The British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said in a statement:

“The blanket re-introduction of testing to enter the UK, on top of the current regime of isolation and PCR testing on arrival is completely out of step with the rest of the world, with every other country taking a measured approach based on the science. Our customers will now be faced with uncertainty and chaos and yet again this a devasting blow for everyone who works in the travel industry.”

In a separate move, Nigeria will be added to the 10 Southern African countries on the ‘Red List’ from 4am on Monday. This will be a blow to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, for whom Lagos is one of their most profitable routes.

Comments (375)

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

  • AS says:

    Would a Qured certificate get me out of Dubai on an Emirates flight back to the UK? I know BA recognise it, but it is a UK company. Will the Emirates check in desk recognise a non UAE testing centre, or will they just shrug their shoulders and give me a blank look

    • Blenz101 says:

      They will recognise it provided it meets the entry requirements to the U.K. They deal with huge numbers of connecting passengers daily who may go into the city and will be presenting certificates in many formats.

    • Rob says:

      This is purely down to whether Emirates has stricter requirements than the UK Government for flying to the UK.

      • Blenz101 says:

        Emirates don’t, they just go with the rules of Dubai inbound and the arriving country outbound.

        Etihad and Abu Dhabi have not acted as “one UAE” needing PCR tests and green lists etc. but AS is fine in Dubai.

      • Ian says:

        Not too sure what it has to do with Emirates?

        Surely all they will check and indeed any airport in the world, is do you have the required paperwork for the destination.

        • Sukes says:

          Airlines can mandate their own requirements that are more stringent than country entry requirements. As an example, Etihad requires negative pcr for any flight on its network.

  • Chris says:

    If flight to U.K. is at 2pm on 15th December and I take a lateral test at 8am on 13th will it be accepted or not?

    • Rob says:

      Yes. Wording is 2 days on which means any time on 13th.

      • MT says:

        Do I read it correctly that if you have a connecting flight then it’s 48 hours prior to the departure of the flight that touches down in the UK?

      • Nerock says:

        It’s a massive shame however BBC even today says requirement for pre departure test is to be taken within 48 hours contrary to saying previous 2 days.. it’s an outrage editors at the biggest UK state media are unable to read..

  • Tierney says:

    What happens regarding pre-departure from US and 2 day PCR in UK for arrival 2nd Jan if a child has recently recovered from COVID? Cannot find any info about this anywhere.

  • athruna says:

    I’m in the US at the moment. We’ll be in Los Angeles 48 hours before our flight and San Diego 24 hours before. Any suggestion on where to get a test from?

    • Stuart says:

      You can get emed to deliver a box of 6 tests for $150. Then download the Novica App to book a test.
      I was going to do this myself but have found a drive through testing service in La Vegas that issues a certifacte and QR Code.

      • roberto says:

        Also in Vegas atm.. Onpoint have a 30 min $59 offer currently if that makes better sense than the Binax option.

        • Stuart says:

          Roberto – Let me know how that goes please. Thats who I’m booked with. No pepayment required was a surpise!

        • athruna says:

          Thanks for info. Super useful. Now booked with OnPoint for a drive-through test at LA airport.

          • Stuart says:

            I had a call from Onpoint in Vegas today. I had a test scheduled with them for Friday but they called to tell me they’d run out of testing kits and the site was now closed!!!

  • Terwri says:

    If anyone is in SWFlorida and struggling to find a test for return to the UK – Express Pharmacy, North Naples near the NCH hospital. $125 for a rapid antigen test. 😳. Done and cert inside 15 mins

    • Stuart says:

      I’ve just bought two Ellume Covid Tests from a CVS Pharmacy in Houston for $29. A video consultantion is an additional $20, but it’s 24/7. I’m going to give this a shot on Friday morning and see how it goes, apparently it’s certified for travel. If it doesn’t do what it says on the box, I’ll carry on with my OnPoint test later that day, before flying home PM Sunday.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.