UK families traveling abroad for spring break continue to face a complex array of Covid testing requirements as restrictions on popular travel destinations remain in place.
While the UK has eased all Covid travel restrictions, many other countries have maintained a host of testing requirements before holidaymakers can enter.
On Sunday (May 15) Spain announced it was extending its entry requirements until at least June 15, meaning adults must be fully vaccinated before traveling to mainland Spain, the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands. Unvaccinated children can travel, but children 12 years and older must provide a certificate of recovery from Covid or take a negative PCR test at least 72 hours before travel.
Spain’s rules are stricter than most other countries in Europe, with destinations such as Greece, Croatia and Austria lifting all restrictions on travelers regardless of their vaccination status. Others, like France and Turkey, allow unvaccinated holidaymakers to travel, but only if they have had a negative lateral flow or PCR test prior to arrival.
But again, there are differences in approach, as Portugal and Cyprus both require lateral flow testing for the unvaccinated, to be performed by a healthcare professional no later than 24 hours before departure, rather than allowing travelers to take their own swabs at home .
In most countries, testing requirements start with children as young as 12, but the rules are different for families traveling to Italy, where anyone who is unvaccinated and over the age of six must prove their Covid status with a test.
The USA is even stricter: every traveler aged two and over must carry out a Covid test no later than 24 hours before departure, regardless of their vaccination status.
“It’s great to see people traveling abroad again, but with individual countries responsible for their own Covid testing rules, passengers need to be careful to ensure they’ve had the right tests for their destination,” said Nick Markham, co-founder of Cignpost ExpressTest which operates test centers at airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
“The risk is not getting a last minute test in time for your flight, so pre-booking the right test at the airport should be seen as an essential holiday reason, like getting insurance or finding the best deal for your travel money .
“As testing rules change regularly, and often at short notice, we advise people to review the requirements for their target to ensure they don’t get caught.”
Families who meet Covid testing requirements will also need to keep an eye on face mask-wearing rules, as the EU recently announced that covers will no longer be required on flights to many EU countries. However, popular destinations such as Greece, Italy and Spain intend to keep mask rules in place for the half-term break.
To check the latest entry requirements, travelers can visit gov.uk or use ExpressTest’s free test tool to find the right test tool.