All travellers returning to the UK must take a ‘day two’ Covid test after arriving home.
Vaccinated holidaymakers can now book a lateral flow test (from a private testing provider) to take on – or before – the second day of their arrival home, instead of a more costly PCR test. You cannot take an NHS test for your day two test.
Travellers will need to take a photo of their lateral flow test and booking reference supplied by the private provider and send it back to them to verify the result, or take a test at the airport they arrive into.
This may not be the only test you need to take. Certain countries still require even double-jabbed arrivals to show evidence of a recent negative Covid test on arrival, while unvaccinated must take tests to gain entry to almost all destinations. Check the Foreign Office page for your destination before you go.
If unvaccinated, you will also need to take a pre-departure test up to 72 hours before travelling home. Furthermore, you must still take a PCR test for your day two test, and another on day eight, and self-isolate for ten days.
Here, we break down how the respective tests work and what to look out for when booking one in the coming months.
How do I get a lateral flow test for my ‘day two’?
The Government has released a list of approved testing companies. Prices for a lateral flow test currently average at around £20, but some providers offer pick-up tests for £15, and at the highest end tests cost £39.
When will my day two lateral flow test arrive?
Most companies will deliver your test by post within 24 to 48 hours.
What do I do with my day two test confirmation code?
Keep this safe. You will need to put this on your Passenger Locator Form in order to travel back to the UK.
When do I need to take the day two test?
Arrival day counts as ‘day 0’, meaning ‘day two’ is the third day after arrival back. If you land on a Monday, day two is Wednesday. Misleadingly, you do not need to take the test on day two, but rather by day two. So you can take the test as soon as you land, if you wish.
What do I do once I have taken my test?
You must take a photograph of your test result and send it back to your test supplier (your company will give instructions after you have paid for your test) who will confirm the result. If negative, you need take no further action. If positive, you must isolate, register your result with the NHS and take a PCR test as soon as possible. Contact your test provider for advice.
What if I am vaccinated but have already booked a day two PCR test?
That is fine. You can take the day two PCR test, and do not need to take an additional lateral flow test after October 24.
Do children need to take tests for travel?
Different countries have varying entry rules for children. Many, including France, Spain, Portugal and Greece require unvaccinated children over the age of 12 to have taken an antigen or PCR test before arrival.
In terms of returning to the UK, all children over the age of 5 must take the day two lateral flow test. Under 18s can take a lateral flow test, regardless of their vaccination status. Children do not need to take the pre-departure test, before travelling back to the UK.
What if I am not vaccinated?
If you are not vaccinated, you must take a PCR test for your day two. Prices for these range from £20 to £399. You can either post your test back to the clinic, or take this in a centre.