Everything You Need To Know About The PCR Test For Travel

With the arrival of the Covid-19 virus last year, PCR testing has exploded in demand, as travellers, workers and everyone else rushes to ensure that they are Covid free. PCR has become an essential component for keeping the work moving and limiting the spread of Covid-19.

What Exactly Is A PCR Test?

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A PCR test is a genetic test that detects certain diseases. The entire procedure usually takes just 5 minutes, and the results usually come back within 12 hours, making it a very fast and accurate testing method. A PCR test can also be considered relatively affordable – with a test usually costing around £50. Fortunately, there are many convenient and affordable places around the world that offer same-day PCR results.

The PCR Test In Practise

PCR tests are a convenient and fast alternative to blood tests. Before performing the test, you'll need to blow your nose, wash your hands, and prepare your swab for use. Take the swab from the packet. Make sure not to touch the tip of the fabric, and avoid touching your tongue, gums, or teeth. After you've prepared your sample, you're ready to take the PCR test.

Taking The Test

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The usual method of taking a PCR test is to rub the swab against the back of your throat and insert it into the nostrils and rotate for 10 seconds to ensure enough specimen is transferred to the testing swab. The swab is then placed in a solution that will be sent away for testing.

Travel Requirements

A PCR test is now mandatory if you're travelling abroad or even returning from another country to the UK. Most airlines have made it mandatory, and the UK government has stated that you must test in order to return to the UK. When you're travelling, you can do a PCR test at home when you return or have the test performed in a testing centre. Domestic flights within the UK currently have no requirements to test before or after your journey.

International Travel

If you're planning a trip to an international destination, a PCR test is a must. The UK Government provides information and advice for travelling around the world. If you're travelling internationally, you can get a PCR test at a medical centre in your home country. You can even get the PCR done at the airport if you're flying into London with a London PCR test for example. These tests are an essential step if you're worried about your travels.


If you're travelling to an international destination, at the moment, you'll need a PCR test or antigen test to prove your status. If you need to travel to a red-list country, you might need more tests in order to travel. If you're flying to a different country, you'll need to be tested again. In both cases, it's important to keep in mind that the validity window of a PCR or an antigen test will vary based on the destination.

Things change, so always keep in mind the government's requirements for your destination and the country you are returning to.

*Collaborative post. This does not offer medical advice. 

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