Can you get a free NHS Covid test if you must travel abroad?

The UK has implemented several new travel restrictions in recent days as the cases of coronavirus continue to climb. The global Covid-19 death toll has now surpassed two million as new strains of the virus prove more easily transmissible. But can you get a free NHS Covid test if you must travel abroad?

From January 18, anyone flying into the UK from overseas will be required to show proof of a negative Covid test before setting off.

The new rules came as the ban on travellers from South America and Portugal came into force on Friday.

The travel ban was implemented in reaction to rising concerns about the new Brazilian Covid variant.

Speaking on Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “It’s vital to take these extra measures now when day-by-day we are making such strides in protecting the population.”

READ MORE: Holidays: Over 50’s warned about booking amid vaccination ‘surge’

You are not entitled to get a free NHS test if you have come to the UK from a high-risk country.

In addition, you are not entitled to a test if you are planning to leave the UK.

Free tests are also unavailable if your employer or school has asked you to get a test, but you are experiencing no symptoms.

You must instead pay for a private test in all of these scenarios.

READ MORE: Italy flights: UK travel ban to end – will they extend?

What information must the test include?

Tests need to meet certain standards for pre-departure testing.

All tests in the UK must meet the following criteria:

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Performance standards of more than or equal to 97 percent specificity or more than or equal to 80 percent sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies per ml.

This could include tests such as a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests, or an antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device.

It is the responsibility of the traveller to meet the minimum standards required.

All test results must be in English, French or Spanish – translations will not be accepted.

Original test result certificates must be shown and copies will not be accepted.

The data must include your name, your date of birth, your test result, the date the sample was collected or received by the test provider, the name of the test provider and their contact details and the name of the test device.

If you arrive without a test result which includes this information, you will be committing a criminal offence and could receive a £500 fine.


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