What COVID test do I need and when?

What COVID test do I need and when for travel is a very good question and unfortunately the answer is always changing.

However, at Peak Pharmacy we try to ensure that everyone gets what they need when they need it done so a few quick pointers will help you along the way ……………….

Lets start from the top. Correct as of April 2021


Before you leave the UK to enter the destination country you need proof that you are not carrying an active COVID infection, we call this Fit to Fly. This is required to enter the destination country. You must check with the destination country or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office what you need, and when you need it done. Failure to comply with the destination government directives could mean you are refused entry.

Step 2

Purchase your Day 2 and Day 8 test. These are usually purchased as a package. These tests are mandatory for all UK travellers (not visiting Red list countries) and form part of the 10-day minimum quarantine.

Step 3

Reentering the UK. Before embarking on a flight back to the UK you will need to get prove your COVID status with a negative test before arriving back at the UK border. The day you arrive back in the UK is Day 0. This is important for steps 4, 5 and 6

Step 4

On Day 2, assuming your arrival Day is Day 0 take your Day 2 test. All positive Day 2 tests are genomically sequenced to spot variants entering the UK. This allows the UK to stay one step ahead of the virus.

Step 5

On Day 8 take your final quarantine test. If this comes back negative you may exit quarantine on Day 10.

Step 6 (Optional)

Want to leave quarantine early? Well, if you’ve not visited a Red List country then you can use the test to release scheme. If your Day 2 test has come back negative then you can take an additional test on Day 5. If this is also negative you can leave quarantine early, however, you still need to do the day 8 test.

So there you have it it’s a minimum of 4 COVID tests just to leave and reenter the UK and organising these can be hard work so see Peak Pharmacy Checklist below.

COVID Test Checklist

Several weeks before departure (or as soon as possible if time is short)

  • Head to the FCO website and check the entry requirements for the destination country. Some countries want the test done a certain amount of time before arriving at the destination, others before departure. Some want PCR tests others want Rapid Antigen. Be aware this can change at very short notice!
  • Book your Fit to Fly test. Ensure you have thoroughly understood the entry requirements for the country you are visiting.

Closer to departure date and Fit to Fly appointment:

  • Book your Day 2 and Day 8 tests so they are ready in your home for when you return. (Not currently available at peak Pharmacy)
  • Recheck the FCO website to ensure no changes to the entry requirements have occurred since you last checked.
  • Research where you might get a COVID test done in your destination country so you are not panicking when trying to leave.

At your Fit to Fly appointment:

  • Attend the appointment. It’s your responsibility to ensure you have booked the right appointment and have the correct type of test done.
  • Want to exit quarantine early? Then you also need to purchase and organise your Test to release kit. Now might be a good time to do that so that you can fill out your passenger locator form more accurately.

24-48 hours after your Fit to Fly appointment you should get your result and certificate, just in time for your flight.