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How to Get a PCR Test for Travel

How to Get a PCR Test for Travel

Kasim Javed |

Plane after lift off

As the world collectively recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, safeguarding the health of the vulnerable and healthy alike has become a key priority in order to avoid further infections and another lockdown.

The effort of preventing another outbreak isn’t limited to domestic and work life, it also applies when it comes to travelling abroad.

Depending on where you visit, you may need to book a PCR test. Now you may be wondering, what is a PCR test, or you may want to know how to get a PCR test for travel, in this article, we at Official Rapid Tests have all the answers you are looking for.

First, let us explain what a PCR Test is.

Understanding the function of a PCR test

PCR stands for ‘Polymerase Chain Reaction’ which is a common technique used in laboratories for research and clinical purposes. It was created in the 1980’s, PCR’s amplify or copy small segments of genetic material.

Using COVID-19 PCR kits as an example, they use a ‘primer’ which is a strand of DNA sequence that matches and amplifies a strand of the virus in question if detected, in this case SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

if the sample provided by the testee is positive, it means the primer within the test kit found and reacted with the virus from the testee’s body, amplifying the primer sequence which results in a positive test from an infected individual.

Negative tests occur when the testee is not infected at all, resulting in the primer from the test kit having nothing to amplify. On the other hand, false negative tests can occur, this is when a testee is newly infected, but their sample does not contain enough genetic material for the primer to react.

False positive test can also occur at a much rarer rate, sometimes due to outside factors such as improper preparation before a test like not cleaning the surface it will be used on. For a deeper insight into the science of PCR click here. Read on to find out about the status of testing rules abroad.

Which places countries require a PCR test to enter?

passport and covid certificate

It is not a straightforward answer, each country has its own guidelines and requirements that any visitor needs to adhere to. For example, entering or leaving the UK whilst being vaccinated means you do not have to be tested.

Whether it’s a PCR or an antigen test, the likelihood is that you will have to book a test to be granted access to travel abroad, depending on the country’s rules.

But you may be wondering why do we still need to test people? Sadly the world witnessed the severity of this virus, so in order to prevent further global lockdowns, some degree of security measures had to be implemented, which in this case is testing.

If no testing takes place, and an infected individual attends a flight, the likelihood of spreading infection becomes certain due to the mass of people being in an enclosed space on the plane for an extended time. As well as touching surfaces at the airport, a space that is host to thousands of people on a daily basis.

It should be noted that guidelines may change to either be more restrictive or freer in regard to travel, it is at the discretion of the government of the country involved.

This is the list of countries not accepting unvaccinated travellers from the UK. This is as of November 2022, please bare in mind that this may change as restrictions begin to ease. As it stands, rejection of unvaccinated travellers is done in these countries:

  • USA
  • Angola
  • Papa New Guinea
  • Indonesia
  • Cameroon
  • Ghana
  • Liberia
  • Eswatini
  • Yemen
  • Pakistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • China
  • Azerbaijan
  • North Korea
  • East Timor
  • Equatorial Guinea

Here is a list of countries that will accept unvaccinated travellers on the condition that they have a negative COVID test on arrival and quarantine for a set amount of days. There may be additional stipulations such as wearing a mask, but this will vary from country to country.

  • Sierra Leone
  • Ukraine
  • Eritrea
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Central African Republic
  • South Sudan

And finally here is the list of countries not accepting anybody regardless of vaccination status.


Most fully vaccinated visitors from the United Kingdom will not be allowed to enter China for tourism purposes.

North Korea

North Korea was known to have banned foreign travel prior to COVID. Visits can be organised however this is organised through a stringent government-organised tour.

Be sure to check the foreign travel advice regularly before considering leaving the country, as rules and restrictions may come into effect with little notice. This is the best way to be prepared.


Equatorial Guinea




Most visitors regardless of vaccination status are not allowed to enter these aforementioned countries. Exemptions to travel and entry restrictions may include citizens, permanent residents, other approved individuals with travel exemptions and more. Please check the official guidelines from the country for the full list of exceptions.

How can I get a PCR Test for travel?

PCR Test and Passport

With all the information we provided previously, you may be anxious to know how to get a PCR test for travel, we have you covered. With over 120 clinics nationwide, it’s never been easier to book a PCR test.

If you want to know how to book a PCR test online or how to book a PCR test for travel, it’s as simple as heading over to our website.

If you simply click this link and enter your address, you will be able to find your nearest test centre, and then proceed to book your test. Alternatively, you can have one delivered for you to do at home.

If you’d like to book a PCR test for travel, simply take our questionnaire, whether you are entering or leaving the UK. We would also recommend that before even booking your tickets to travel, you become familiar with the government guidelines on travel.

Please note that whether you feel ill or not, taking a test is a requirement to ensure the safety of other passengers. Unless you have a medical exemption clarified by your doctor, the likelihood is you will not be allowed to travel abroad without taking a test.

Administering a PCR test by yourself at home

Nurse holding PCR test

If you decide to take your PCR test at home, after ordering and receiving your test kit follow these guidelines on how to take a PCR test:

  1. Clean your hands with sanitiser, or wash your hands with soap and blow your nose.
  2. Clean the surface your test kit will be on, and lay all the test materials on the surface once it is dry.
  3. Open your mouth and rub the swab over both your tonsils (or where they were) at the back of your throat. Do this 4 times on each side.
  4. insert the same swab inside your nose (about 2.5cm up or until you feel some resistance) and wipe the inside of your nose.
  5. Put the swab facing down into the tube and screw the lid tight.
  6. Put the tube in the bag provided.
  7. When posting the used kit, make sure to only post it in a Royal Mail Priority postbox which are for the sole purpose of receiving and delivering test kits.

If you are in need of booking a PCR test for travel, we recommend you take a read of our blog which provides extra information when it comes to a ‘fit to fly PCR test’.

Get your PCR test for travel

Official Rapid Tests is a trusted global supplier for Covid testing. We are the highest-rated UK Government listed provider on Trustindex.

All Official Rapid Tests are verified by the EU and the UK Government. We work with qualified front-line doctors and tech experts to come up with the most convenient testing solutions for travel. We blend technology and medical expertise to offer the fastest and most convenient PCR testing service on the market.

If you are not sure which Covid test you may need, take our Quiz on our webpage here, and this will tell you which type of Covid test is suitable based on your travel requirements.

Within this article, we hope to provided valuable information for your travelling needs whilst answering the question ‘how to get a PCR test for travel’.

Find out more about Official Rapid Tests by browsing our website here.

We have over 120 clinics nationwide where you can get a Covid test. Find your nearest test centre by clicking here.

We are open 24/7, seven days a week.

Read more articles on travelling and Covid tests on our blog here.

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