How to Get a COVID Test Abroad
Well, isn’t this a role-reversal? We’re normally helping send you away on a wellness holiday, but this time we’re helping bring you home. With spikes in cases, new variants and an emphasis on protecting the vulnerable, many countries have closed their borders and have varying rules and regulations for travellers trying to get home!
Well, isn’t this a role-reversal? We’re normally helping send you away on a wellness holiday, but this time we’re helping bring you home. With spikes in cases, new variants and an emphasis on protecting the vulnerable, many countries have closed their borders and have varying rules and regulations for travellers trying to get home! It is important to keep up to date on information as it can change rapidly and frequently, we have a bespoke COVID-19 Information Hub built with this in mind.
When we refer to a ‘COVID test’ we refer to the most accurate of the bunch and that is a PCR Text (Polymerase Chain Reaction). These are essential for getting back into the UK from abroad, whether you are entering the UK via plane, boat or train you will have to present a negative PCR result that was taken within 72 of departure. For more information on the rules of a PCR test, what qualifies and what to expect, read here.
So how do you get a COVID test abroad? We’ve curated a country-by-country summary of where and how to get a COVID test in each given destination (Use CTRL+F to find a specific country):
PCR tests are available and very easily accessible in the UK via a number of approved private providers. Large pharmacy chain, Boots offer testing as does the widespread private healthcare group, BUPA. However, there are also thousands of private clinics dotted around the country that also provide the service for a fee. If you have symptoms, you can get a test via the NHS. Overseas visitors will not be charged for coronavirus tests or treatment.
PCR tests are available at Paris Airport but you can also take a detailed look at this geographical map of government-approved testing locations across France to find the closest testing site to you. You can also get a test via a doctor, even if you’re just visiting and not registered with a surgery. You’ll need to find a ‘médécine géneraliste’ and arrange an appointment. They’ll be able to prescribe your test and information on local testing labs.
If you are contacted by France’s Test and Trace service following contact with someone that tests positive, you will be sent a QR code via the TousAntiCovid app for use when booking an appointment at your nearest testing facility.
There are also several walk-in or drive-in test centres around the country – some of these are for symptomatic use only whilst others are available for anyone to use. You can find these listed on the local healthy authority websites.
The easiest way to get a PCR test in Spain is through Medmesafe as they offer a long list of test sites with a geographical map to find the closest one to you. For more information for testing in Spain and the difference between free and private PCR tests, take a look here.
Find the closest PCR testing facility to you in Croatia by reading this PDF on the top sites around the country. It provides hyperlinks, email addresses and phone numbers for numerous clinics all over Croatia as well as an estimation of pricing. Test results are usually received within 24-48 hours but do check with your provider to ensure you’ll meet the entry requirements of your destination country.
Find the PCR testing clinic closest to you in Cyprus by going direct to the Cypriot Ministry of Health. Be sure to click the translate option at the top of your page if the information has not already been translated. The list provides over 16 choices dotted around the country.
The easiest way to get PCR tested in Greece is through the partnership of AEGEAN Air and the Bioiatriki Healthcare Group which have multiple sites dotted around Greece. So long as you have your flight details for getting home, tests are only €55.
The majority of tests in Iceland take place at Sudurlandsbraut 34, Reykjavik. They provide results within 24hrs of taking the test. Testing is also available at Keflavik aiport. Iceland also has a nationwide app that helps with track and trace as well as test centres called Rakning C-19.
If you require a pre-departure test for travel to the UK, you can contact any health centre in the Capital area to request a booking for an asymptomatic C-19 PCR test. You must state you need a certificate for travel and give your date of travel. Payment is taken at the time of booking. You should request the certificate to be in English. You can have it sent electronically or printed for pick up at the health centre. You will be sent a bar code on your mobile phone which you will need to present on the day of the test. Tests will take place at Sudurlandsbraut 34, Reykjavik. You should receive your results within 24hrs of taking the test. The total cost is approx. ISK 14,000 (£80) for those registered in the Icelandic health system or approx. ISK 24,000 (£138) for those not registered in the Icelandic health system. This includes the cost of clinic, test and certificate.
Italy is slightly different as it handles COVID regionally, there are many tests sites across the country but the best way to obtain one is by using their regional helplines. There is also a toll-free app called Immuni which offers support and information 24/7.
Getting tested in Malta is straightforward as their official Government site has a tailored page that provides information on COVID-19 as well as where to get tested, how to book an appointment and when you’ll get results.
Lithuania has a dedicated Government website to book and register for a test with real time figures for COVID in the country. They also have an app called Korona Stop LT which provides daily updates on the country's situation, whether you have been exposed and what to do.
COVID-19 regulations are currently relatively low compared to other nations. Despite being a smaller country geographically with a smaller population than most, it is surprising to know that there is only one official testing site in all of Montenegro. Contact information and an address can be found here.
For the most convenient access to a COVID-19 test, a top option is using MedicalPort who can test you from the comfort of your accommodation and also have sites dotted across the entire country with a quick turnaround. However, many other private companies are available in different regions of the country for testing.
Istanbul airport provides a walk-in 24-hour PCR test clinic which they proclaim as one of the best in the world with a rapid turnaround. Also, the Turkish Government has provided a long list of clinics that offer a PCR test.
Bali has taken strict precautions recently and has a dedicated website that offers information and advice as well as regularly updated statistics. There is also a contact number and list of Government assigned facilities should you require a PCR test.
Bhutan currently has five testing sites across the country, for information on where these sites are, how to book and what to expect, read from their COVID-19 section of their health website.
Testing is available via the National Institute for Public Health (NIPH). Tests must be paid for at the traveller’s expense and travel certificates are included in the cost. Test results are usually provided within 24 hours, with the certificate remaining valid for 72 hours after it has been issued. NIPH hours are Monday to Sunday, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for walk-ins only.
Travelling to the UK from China is not currently possible due to the suspension of direct flights between the two countries to curb the spread of coronavirus. If you need assistance, please contact the British Embassy in Beijing.
India’s Ministry of Health has provided a document with all the facilities, hospitals and clinics across the country that test and treat COVID-19 with phone numbers, addresses and websites for more information on booking a PCR test.
The UK Government have provided a document that details all the major English-speaking clinics, surgeries and hospitals within Japan. With this, the Japanese Ministry of Health has also provided documentation for all things COVID-19, specifically aimed toward those who are less familiar with the country and culture. This comes with a helpline which can help point you in the direction of your local test site.
For getting a PCR test in Malaysia is it is as simple as using Google, which have provided a long list of all the Government approved testing sites and whether you need a referral and appointment or not. Please bear in mind the majority of test sites are in central Malaysia.
From 10/11/2020, the Nepal Government are providing free PCR testing after a surge in cases at all Government approved hospitals. The UK Government also recommends, for those who can pay, to research Mediciti and Norvic Private Hospitals. Free tests are available at Patan Hospital. There is also an unofficial source that has provided a list of locations that provide the PCR test.
There are two main choices for obtaining a PCR test in The Philippines, the first and arguably more convenient for trying to get home is in Manila with Philippines Airlines who have teamed up with Detoxicare Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory. They offer testing to flyers with a 12–24-hour result time-frame, more details can be found here. The second choice is the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Hospital based in Calapan City.
The easiest way to book a PCR test in Sri Lanka is using this official list of test sites provided by the Sri Lankan Government as well as all the COVID related information you could need all in one easily readable place. Another option is an unofficial list created by a private healthcare firm, echanneling. This list offers drive-through test sites as well as hospitals and private labs dependant on where you are.
Emirates airlines have teamed up with multiple hospitals across Thailand to provide a testing service to allow people to move in and out of the country safely. Equally, you can book a PCR test directly with Bangkok Hospital here.
One option is through FV Hospital which provides booking and on-site PCR tests. Emirates airlines are also offering testing at airlines but locating an exact link has proven a challenge! The best bet is checking the UK’s list of medical facilities in Vietnam.
The Argentinian Government have provided a detailed accumulation of information surrounding Coronavirus in the cities Capital, Aires. The list also contains links to testing sites and details of where and how to participate. The UK Government have also provided a list of all the medical facilities in Argentina.
Finding specific test sites in chile has proven difficult, however, they do have a dedicated COVID-19 site created by the Chilean Government. Similar to other countries, it is best to check the UK Government’s list of Chilean medical centres and find the closest to you for a test.
Getting a PCR test in Colombia is relatively simple, Avianca Airlines have a page full of COVID-related information when in Colombia. With this, they have teamed up with Syn Labs and there is a specific page for booking a PCR test, specifically aimed for travellers, including those trying to get home, all across the country here.
If you’re a Costa Rica citizen or resident, you can get a free test through the Caja – call the coronavirus hotline on 1322 for more information.
There are also a number of private labs and hospitals offering PCR testing. These include: Laboratorios Echandi, Hospital La Católica, Hospital Cima, Laboratorios LABIN, Hospital Clínica Bíblica, Laboratorio Páez, Laboratorios San José and Hospital Metropolitano. You can find a list and links at: ‘Two Weeks in Costa Rica’.
In light of the new PCR test requirements for travellers returning to the UK and Canada, Cuba has made it easier to get tested for COVID-19 prior to departure from the country. There are testing facilities being deployed to hotels and resorts in its principal tourist destinations. Visitors will be able to book a test to be conducted at their accommodation – please check with your provider for details.
Those staying in Casa Particulares are able to get tested in any of the country’s international clinics, located all over the island.
Florida has multiple PCR testing sites across the state, one source of information is the Florida COVID-19 Response site, which divides the state via counties to find the closest site near you. Another option is on the Orange County Government Florida’s website which provides a geographical map of all the free sites across the state as well as information on them.
Current FCO Travel advice at the time of writing says that:
“From 4am on 15 January, visitors who have been in or transited through Ecuador in the previous 10 days cannot enter the UK. British and Irish nationals and third-country nationals with residence rights in the UK arriving in the UK from Ecuador will need to self-isolate with their households on their return.”
COVID-19 testing is available from the Ecuadorian Government’s approved list of providers here.
For your best bet at finding the closest PCR testing centre near you whilst in Peru, check this official Government site that offers a map detailing all the sites, with lists of each, their details and who they are carried about by whether it be free healthcare, the military, private healthcare or even university testing.
Africa & Indian Ocean
The best source of information when it comes to a list of test sites is the NHLS, which is approved by the SA Government. With a comprehensive list of testing labs across the country and their contact details. Another source of PCR testing in South Africa is through Travel Doctor as they offer private pre-book tests in Cape Town, Rosebank and Northcliff.
Whilst quite not as clear as some lists, the Maldives’ Ministry of Health has provided a COVID-19 hub of information and if you scroll to the bottom of the page on the left side you have ‘Clinics Dedicated to COVID-19'.
The Mauritius Ministry of Health and Wellness has provided a document that gives information on a COVID hotline with different numbers depending on where you are based. The poster is in French, but the list and numbers are on the bottom right-hand side are in English too. The Ministry of Health and Wellness also provides a map (pre-COVID) of all the hospitals and clinics across the island.
A nice and simple one here, the UK Government has curated a list of all the hospitals mobilised for treating COVID-19 including testing. The Government also explains “If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact the Moroccan hotline COVID-19 numbers: 0801004747 OR 141 OR 300. If you need help with translation, you should call +212 (0) 537 63 33 33”.
The easiest way to get information on where to book a PCR test in St Lucia is through Google as they have a tailored list here with clinics dotted across the whole country. The official St Lucia travel website also cites two clinics in regard to COVID.
The Visit Turks and Caicos Islands website has a list of three medical clinics that offer the PCR test on the islands. Scroll down to the section that is titled “Where to get a local Turks and Caicos COVID-19 test?”
Australia has a COVID track and trace app called COVIDSafe which we recommend using for updates. Booking a PCR test in Australia is stress-free with information on where to book a test on the Government’s ‘How to Get Tested’ website as well as a map with all testing clinics.
A very easy experience to book a test in New Zealand with their Government’s official website providing a list of GPs and testing centres that provide the PCR test.
Travel company Emirates have provided a comprehensive list of all the hospitals, laboratories and health clinics that offer the option of the PCR test.
There are now drive-through PCR test sites at Muscat International Airport and Salalah Airport to facilitate sample collection. Tests will have to be pre-booked via Tarassud+ app. The UK Government also explain “If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should call the Ministry of Health in Oman on +968 2444 1999. They will advise you on next steps, local testing facilities, etc. You should also speak to your healthcare provider and/or insurance company.”
We hope this list has offered some help on where and how to book a COVID test whilst abroad, much of this information is tailored specifically for those looking to book tests for return to the UK so please check your destination country’s entry requirements to be sure of what you need to do prior to your departure!
Our team of Wellness Travel Specialists are on-hand to discuss your COVID-19 related travel enquiries or to help you plan your ideal wellness holiday for the future. Call us today on 0203 397 8891 or contact us here.