Testing for International Arrivals - Day 2 & Day 8 Home Quarantine Tests

18 November, 2021  |  Holy Winter - Healthcare Writer

Testing for International Arrivals - Day 2 & Day 8 Home Quarantine Tests

Based on the data about the spread of COVID-19 in the UK and across the world, the government has been updating the laws involving testing and travelling. These laws are made while keeping public health and convenience in mind. The biggest change in updated rules has been on the front of quarantine. Travellers who meet certain criteria can now bypass quarantine and move freely after entering the UK.

New Rules

The new rules replace the prior traffic light system, according to which red-listed countries were barred from entry, amber listed countries required stringent testing and quarantine, and only green listed countries allowed for a relatively swift travel experience. A rule change has occurred and a category for red vs non-red listed countries now exists. 

The new rules allow all individuals from non-red listed countries to travel to the UK as long as they are fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine. These individuals do not need to take any tests before their departure to the UK and only need to provide proof of their vaccination. This may be in the form of a vaccination card or vaccination certificate depending on the country of origin. Upon arrival, these fully vaccinated travellers are to take a pre-booked Lateral Flow Test (LFT). This test is to be taken 2 days after arrival in the UK. 

As for red-listed countries, travellers need to either be UK or Irish nationals or UK residents to be eligible for travel. However, to be able to travel, they need to take an RT-PCR test before departure and day 2 and day 8 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests on arrival to the UK, regardless of their vaccination status. This is to be followed by a 10 day quarantine period as well.

Moreover, the same Day 2 and Day 8 testing rules apply if the traveller from a non-red listed country is unvaccinated or vaccinated with an unapproved vaccine.

Difference between LFT and PCR test

Lateral Flow Test looks for proteins (antigens) in the swab sample to detect the presence of COVID-19. Hence the reason why it is also known as the rapid antigen test. On the other hand, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are designed to look for genetic material (known as RNA). The design of the two tests is clearly a key difference, but they differ in other ways too. You can read our blog on the topic for more detail. 

Lateral Flow Tests are also relatively inexpensive, unlike PCR tests, which cost many times more. Lateral Flow Tests are more efficient in delivering results as well with a turnaround time of mere 30 minutes. In contrast, the PCR test can take between 24 to 48 hours for results. Lateral Flow Tests are ideal when people need to be tested frequently and thus more cost-effectively, while also needing results in quick time. 

Although the Lateral Flow Test is fairly accurate, a PCR test proves to be relatively more accurate in comparison. In most cases, it’s not a concern, but for those who test positive on the Lateral Flow Test, a confirmatory PCR test is often required for certainty. 

How to get the Day 2 & Day 8 Tests

Covid-19 day 2 and day 8 tests can be purchased online in advance from a government-approved test provider before you arrive in the UK. You can get a bundle of Day 2 and Day 8 testing, as well as individual tests.

Before booking your Day 2 and Day 8 tests, you will need to state whether you are fully vaccinated and the country where you are travelling from. Once you have selected the lab for your tests, your swab sample will be picked up from your location of stay. 

You can find a private test provider from a list of government-approved providers for the Day 2 and Day 8 tests. An up to date list of government-approved test providers can be found here.

Passenger Locator Form


You will also need to fill a passenger locator form when you travel. This form is used to inform you to self-isolate in case anyone else who was on your flight tests positive for COVID-19. Likewise, if you test positive for COVID-19, it will be used to inform others on the same flight as you to self-isolate. The passenger locator form also helps ensure that one is adhering to the self-isolation/quarantine rules that apply to certain individuals.

You can begin filling out your passenger locator form here

Staying up-to-date with the requirements 

The rules and regulations relating to the testing and quarantine requirements reflect the evolving status of the pandemic. The rules can further change depending on how well COVID-19 is being contained in the UK. Therefore, before travelling, ordering any private test kits, or setting up quarantine arrangements, double-check the latest guidelines from the UK government’s official website for the latest t air-travel requirements.

IQ Doctor 

IQ Doctor is a verified online pharmacy that provides Lateral Flow Tests, Day 2 and day 8 PCR tests and tests to release certificates as well. You can visit us at https://www.iqdoctor.co.uk/treatments/test-kit/ and begin your free consultation today. 

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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