Is your Lateral Flow Test Accepted for travel?

14 October, 2021  |  Holy Winter - Healthcare Writer

Is your Lateral Flow Test Accepted for travel?

The newly revised rules by the UK government have considerably relaxed COVID-19 testing requirements for certain incoming travellers. If you are fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine and come from a country that is not on the red list, you will need to take a pre-departure Lateral Flow Test (LFT) and a subsequent Day 2 RT-PCT test upon arrival. However, at the end of October, you will be able to take a Lateral Flow Test in place of the Day 2 RT-PCR test. Before you decide to book a Lateral Flow Test, make sure that it is approved for travel. Read on for all you need to know. 

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is an approved executive agency sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Care. They are responsible for regulating medicines and medical devices throughout the UK. They also provide all assistance and instruction when it comes to testing for COVID-19. 

Through fact-based judgement and keeping public interest in mind, the MHRA ensures that all medical devices being sold to consumers are safe and that they work perfectly. Therefore, any manufacturer producing COVID-19 testing kits, like the Lateral Flow Tests, needs to contact the MHRA for inspection and approval before their products enter the market. Only then are Lateral Flow Tests accepted for travel. 

The legality of Lateral Flow Tests 

According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), some Lateral Flow Tests are not legal. They are not valid for domestic use or travel to the UK. Self-tests that do not need to be sent to a lab for results are only legal if they are either used by trained clinicians or have been certified by a notified body. You can check the certification status by looking at the packaging of your kit. It should have a 4 digit code after the CE, CE UKNI or UKCA mark symbol. These Lateral Flow Tests are accepted for travel. 

Test kits without the code are effective to use at home for personal use, but the absence of a clinician could result in false positives. As per legislation earlier this year, manufacturers need to demonstrate that they meet the required standards when producing, packaging and shipping these Lateral Flow Test kits, and the code indicates that they have been approved by a notified body and will be applicable regardless of whether a trained clinician uses it. 

Unapproved Tests 

With the increase in the need for testing to be able to fly, many booking and travel websites have aligned themselves with Lateral Flow Test providers. However, not all these providers are compliant with the approved Self Test codes, and although these test kits may show accurate results, they cannot yet be used unless a clinician is present. 

There has not been an official announcement from the government about the implications of using a self-test kit that does not have a code, but the MHRA advises to only use test kits with the code and the government plans on adding this advice to their websites and other COVID-19 related sources. 

Can I Use Lateral Flow Test For Travel To The UK?

From the start of October, Lateral Flow Tests are to be used for pre-departure testing, and by the end of October, they will also be used for post-arrival testing in the UK. For the Lateral Flow Testing upon arrival, it is yet to be confirmed whether trained clinicians will administer these tests or travellers are expected to take these tests at home and report to the NHS. In either case, there will be an increased demand for Lateral Flow Tests, and you should therefore book it before flying and buy the ones that have codes confirming their viability from a notified body.

IQ doctor has a wide range of COVID-19 testing options available, including Lateral Flow Tests for travelling. We are registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and are also authorised by the MHRA. You can book your test kit here. If you test negative you can receive your Fit to Fly certificate within 12 hours via email. This certificate contains your details, along with your test results. Our lab experts sign these certificates, and they are acceptable to be presented to authorities for travel purposes.

Reviewed By

Omar El-Gohary

Omar El-Gohary

The superintendent and lead pharmacist - registration number 2059792.

Omar is passionate about developing healthcare technology to empower our patients.

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