Which holiday destinations still require a pre-travel Covid test?
Though many short-haul and European holiday destinations have now scrapped their pre-travel test requirements (some of them dropping all Covid-related rules altogether), many mid- and long-haul countries still ask you to test before your trip.
There’s no hard and fast rules region to region – in Asia, for example, UK travellers still cannot visit China or Japan for tourism reasons, while South Korea is open to all vaccinated people. In the Indian Ocean, Mauritius and the Maldives have scrapped their pre-travel test, while Madagascar’s rules remain strict.
Here are the places where you still need to plan in advance and organise the correct tests to get in.
A strangely strict hangover from the early days of Omicron, the US still requires all fully vaccinated arrivals (the only type allowed in) to take a Covid test within the 24 hours before travel. A source within the US tourism industry tells The Independent they hope this will be reviewed and either eased or dropped altogether for vaccinated travellers by early June, provided there are no new variants or rising cases. You can take either a PCR or an antigen test before travel to America, but do read the lengthy description of what type of test is required under “Test and Documentation Requirements” on the CDC’s website before you book it.
Most popular Caribbean islands – including Antigua, St Lucia, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Jamaica – have now dropped their test requirement. But Barbados and Saint Kitts and Nevis still require a test (a PCR within the three days before travel or an antigen within 24 hours) of both vaccinated and unvaccinated UK arrivals. For Barbados, children 17 and under can follow the testing rules for vaccinated adults (whether or not they are jabbed) and do not have to quarantine; for Saint Kitts, unvaccinated children aged 12-17 years must have an PCR test taken within 24 hours of arrival, with parents obliged to remain in quarantine with the child until a negative result is obtained.
For Trinidad and Tobago, only fully vaccinated travellers can visit and must take a PCR or an antigen test within 72 hours before their arrival time. For the Bahamas, vaccinated travellers must take a PCR or antigen test within the three days before arrival, while unvaccinated or partly vaccinated visitors must take a PCR within the same window. Children aged one and under are exempt; children two to 11 can follow the rules for vaccinated visitors while children 12+ must follow the rules for their vaccination status.
Not only must adults be fully vaccinated to visit Morocco, they must also produce a negative PCR test result taken within the 48-hour window before travel. To be considered fully vaccinated, your second dose must have been given two weeks before arrival. Children aged six to 17 can enter if unvaccinated, but must take the same test; children aged five and under are exempt from the testing and vaccine requirement. The government also warns: “Random rapid antigen tests will be conducted upon arrival for selected groups of passengers. Additional PCR tests may also be required after 48 hours of arrival for randomly selected passengers.”
Israel is pretty high maintenance on the testing front: all travellers must produce a negative PCR test result, taken within 72 hours before the flight. On arrival in Israel, you must take a further PCR test before leaving the airport, at your own expense. They also require proper health insurance with Covid-19 cover, as well as an ‘entry statement form’.
Madagascar doesn’t require proof of vaccination to enter, but does demand all travellers undergo a PCR test within the 72 hours before departure. You must then pay to take an antigen test on arrival, at a cost of £13. If you test positive on arrival, you must go into official hotel quarantine for seven days at your own expense.
Testing is mandatory either side of your journey to Rwanda, even if you’re vaccinated. You can take a (professionally administered) rapid antigen test within the 72 hours prior to departure time, but then must take a PCR test on arrival, and self-isolate until you receive a negative result.
All arrivals to Uganda by air need to take a PCR test within the 72 hours before travel, regardless of vaccination status. Meanwhile passengers arriving at land borders are exempt, as are children under three travelling with an adult who has tested negative.
While the Foreign Office currently advises against all travel to Russia, if you did have an essential reason to go, you’d need to produce a negative PCR test taken within the 48 hours before your arrival. Visitors must also have an “express test” on arrival.
Fully jabbed visitors to Malaysia must show a negative PCR test result taken within two days before departure, as well as taking a professionally-administered lateral flow test within 24 hours of arrival. You must also verify your vaccine certificate on the mysafetravel portal before your journey. Unvaccinated arrivals must take the same test, but quarantine for five days on arrival.
Indonesia, including Bali, is now open to fully vaccinated UK travellers, who must take a PCR test in the 48 hours before departure – as well as installing the Peduli Lindungi mobile app and showing proof of health insurance which covers “Covid-19 and medevac”. You must then take a second PCR test on arrival, self-isolating at your accommodation until a negative result comes back (at which point you’re free to explore). Other health insurance and advance accommodation booking rules apply depending on which visa type you’re on – check the FCO advice before going. Unvaccinated travellers can go, but must take a second PCR test on arrival and quarantine for five days. If you’re starting in Bali, you need to stay there for four days before going elsewhere in Indonesia, regardless of vaccination status.
The rules for children are slightly more complex: per the FCO wording, “Children aged 12 to 17 follow the same rules as fully or partly vaccinated travellers. Those who have not been vaccinated will be expected to provide proof of policy that children cannot be vaccinated in their home country. Any child between the ages of six and 17 who has not been previously vaccinated will be vaccinated after their second negative PCR test during the quarantine process. Children aged five and under are not required to be vaccinated.”
Only fully vaccinated people are able to travel to the Philippines, and must take a PCR test within the 48 hours before departure or an antigen test within the 24 hours beforehand. Children aged 11 and under are allowed to accompany vaccinated parents while unvaccinated, with those aged three and under exempt from testing. You must show your proof of vaccination, a valid return ticket for your trip on arrival, a passport with six months’ validity after you leave and travel insurance with minimum coverage of $35,000, including Covid treatment. There’s also an online platform you must register with.
As well as arranging a visa or visa waiver, arrivals of all vaccination status must take a PCR test 72 hours, or an antigen test within 24 hours, before departure to Vietnam. Only children under two are exempt from this. In mid-March, the country reintroduced visa waivers for residents of 13 countries, including the UK; and there’s also a requirement for minimum travel health insurance of USD $10,000, with Covid cover.
Fully vaccinated visitors to South Korea must upload their journey and contact information to the Q-Code website before departure, and provide a negative PCR result from a test taken within the 48 hours before departure. Your Q-Code registration will send you a QR Code, which you can show at Korean immigration as proof of vaccination. Children aged five and under do not need to have a negative test result to enter, regardless of vaccination – while unvaccinated adults must quarantine for seven days as well as testing.
Fully vaccinated travellers can visit French Polynesia – home to Tahiti and Bora-Bora – but must supply a PCR test (taken within 72 hours before departure) or an antigen test (48 hours). To be considered fully vaccinated nine months or more after your second dose of a vaccine, you must have had a booster jab. Unvaccinated children aged 12-17 can accompany their vaccinated parent or guardian, taking the same tests; 11s and under are exempt from testing.
While New Zealand is still currently closed to most UK visitors, it opens to all visa-waiver countries (including the UK) at 11.59pm on 1 May. From this time, you’ll be able to visit if you are from one of these countries, are double vaccinated (aged 17 and over) and have successfully applied for an NZeTA visa, which can be done online. After that, the test requirement for the foreseeable is a PCR taken within the 48 hours before your flight’s departure time, or a rapid antigen or LAMP test taken within the 24 hours before. Children aged 16 and under will be exempt from the fully vaccinated rule, but those aged two to 16 must test.
As of 18 April, fully vaccinated arrivals and children up to the age of 17 arriving with fully vaccinated adults no longer have to test before travel to Australia. In most states, you will have to test after arrival – in New South Wales (home to Sydney) and Queensland, for example, you must go straight to your accommodation, take a rapid antigen test and self-isolate until you receive a negative result. In Queensland, this rule will end on 28 April, with no post-travel test required. In Victoria, this is recommended rather than demanded, while in stricter Western Australia you must be triple-jabbed, with a booster, and qualify for its G2G pass. You can check the individual rules for the state you’re going to here.
Recently scrapped pre-travel tests for vaccinated arrivals
- Sri Lanka
- The Maldives
- St Lucia
- Dominican Republic
- South Korea
- Thailand (though you still have to apply to visit)
Unvaccinated travellers can enter but need to test
- Sri Lanka
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