What COVID Test Do I Need to Return to UK?

plane landing

When it comes to travelling after the globally affecting COVID-19 outbreak, understandably some countries have different rules and restrictions when it comes to entry.

These measures are taken in order to avoid another lockdown and the spreading of infection.

At Official Rapid Tests, we are here to help you navigate this complicated and ever-changing situation. Today we will be answering the question ‘Do I need a COVID test to return to the UK?’

The reason for testing

Even though the worst episode of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have passed, the reason for testing still going on is the prerogative of that country’s leader. Of course, the health and safety of their citizens is the driving factor. The death of many people could have been prevented in some countries if precautions had been taken at an earlier time.

It also must be considered that economically the countries may not be able to recover if they have to go into another mass lockdown, so they want to prevent any outbreak on their own soil before inviting anybody from outside.

However as this past year has shown, travel bans can be lifted, the best way to stay aware is to check the government gateway’s advice on foreign travel, in which you can search the current requirements to enter any country.

So, what COVID test do I need to return to the UK?

What COVID test do I need to return to the UK?

You may be wondering ‘What COVID test do I need to return to the UK?’ As it stands, to return or visit the UK, you are not required to take a test or fill out any forms, regardless of your vaccination status. There is no return to the UK COVID test.

With that being said, it can be likely that depending on where you visit, you may need to show proof of a negative test or vaccination. Acceptable tests vary from country to country, so it is best to check the guidance before and during your visit.

It is always better to be cautious and considerate of the people around you, this is why even having an antigen test handy can help you not accidentally infect anyone close to you, or members of the public who are at risk or have existing health conditions.

So if you’re asking yourself ‘What COVID test do I need to return to the UK’? The answer is..  None. But in this age of uncertainty, it is always better to be prepared, as guidelines can change instantly depending on the circumstances.

But just because you don’t need to test on your return, it does not mean restrictions have been removed everywhere else.


Travelling from the UK - restrictions

flight arrival and departures board at airport

This year, 30 countries have removed their entry requirements concerning covid, 118 countries are open, with 109 still having some travel restrictions in place.

However, in some countries, borders are still completely closed to unvaccinated travellers. We understand people have their own reasons and exemptions for not taking a vaccine. But we also understand the precaution taken by these countries.

Let’s take a look at countries that are not accepting unvaccinated travellers from the UK, along with countries that are accepting anybody regardless of vaccination status.

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 before COVID. Visits can be organised however this is organised through a stringent government-organised tour.


Equatorial Guinea




Most visitors regardless of vaccination status are not allowed to enter these aforementioned countries. 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.

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 to administer PCR and Antigen tests

antigen nasal test

Depending on where you go, you may need to do a PCR or Antigen test before departure, if this is the case, here is a brief breakdown on how to administer these tests.


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 sanitizer, or wash your hands with soap and blow your nose.
  2. Clean the surface your test kit will be on, 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.

Antigen Test

(Not all rapid antigen tests are the same. E.g. some test kits come with the tube and liquid in separate parts. So, always read the instructions on the box or leaflet before you do the test.)

Start by washing your hands with soap or cleaning with sanitiser, then grab a watch or timer.

In the test kit, there should be:

  • A White strip which shows you the test result
  • A long stick with 1 soft end (swab)
  • A tube with liquid inside
  • A lid for the tube

When taking the test, make sure to:

  1. Take the long stick (swab) out of the packet. Do not touch the soft part at the end of the stick.
  2. Put the soft part of the stick up your nose.
  3. Put it all the way up until you feel it touch the back of your nose.
  4. Rotate the swab around the inside of your nose.
  5. Count to 15 slowly.
  6. When the stick is in your nose, you can press on the side of your nose to ensure the swab has made proper contact.
  7. Repeat the process in the other nostril with the same swab you used initially.
  8. When you are done, put the stick into the tube.
  9. Stir the stick in the tube 10 times.
  10. Gently squeeze the sides of the tube together 10 times.
  11. Take the stick out of the tube.
  12. Put the cap tightly on the tube.
  13. Squeeze 3 or 4 drops of liquid onto the tiny circle on your white strip.
  14. Set your timer or watch to the time that the box says (this could be 10, 15 or 20 minutes).
  15. When the time is up, check the strip to see what it says. Only read the strip at that time and not later. It might be incorrect then.

Get your test with Official Rapid Tests

hand holding covid antigen test

Official Rapid Tests is a trusted global supplier of Covid testing. We are the highest-rated UK Government listed provider on Trustindex. Even though some countries have lifted their travel restrictions, other countries may still have stricter guidance. That is why we are here to help in this ever-changing landscape.

The EU and the UK Government verify all Official Rapid Tests. We work with qualified front-line doctors and tech experts to develop the most convenient testing solutions for travel. We blend technology and medical expertise to offer the market the fastest and most convenient PCR testing service.

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 have helped give an understanding of your travelling needs whilst answering the question ‘Do I need a COVID test to return to the UK?’

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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