COVID-19 Travel Requirements and What Is a Fit To Fly Covid-19 Test?

covid-19 travel requirements

Written by HMI

January 6, 2021

Covid-19 Travel Requirements

Travelling is complicated enough, but with COVID-19 it has become even more confusing. Thats why we have outlined how exactly COVID-19 has impacted international travel and all of your COVID-19 travel requirements.

For a full list of COVID-19 travel regulations, you can check out the database we made for you by clicking here.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all of us. Millions of enterprises face an existential threat, the closure of borders, trade restrictions and confinement measures have been a significant part of 2020. This varies from loss of business, cancelling our holiday plans to a heavy toll on mental health globally. Nobody has been spared the turbulent and far-reaching impact of the global pandemic. 

As of today, we’ve seen a 46.3% drop in international travel according to the most relevant and up-to-date statistics on Aviation and Aerospace. If we are even able to travel, we may now have to obtain a Covid-19 Fit to Fly Certificate, wear a face mask the entire journey, carry a bottle of hand sanitiser and go through a temperature screening before entering the flight. 

The UK has faced a second lockdown throughout November in the hopes to save Christmas. Amongst other restrictions this means that, according to Mr. Robson from Turning Left for Less, “during lockdown, it is against government guidelines to travel on holiday in the UK or abroad.”

Travel restrictions are beginning to ease in some countries but a new wave of travel anxiety has gripped people during this wave. Cancellation of flights have become a frequent occurrence, fewer available flight routes, long airport queues, lack of social distancing at airports and flights abroad, travel green lists, passenger locator forms, pre-arrival viral screening and post arrival quarantine in both the destination and sometimes the travellers home country are all necessities for travel in a pandemic but may bring unease to the traveller. Travel medicine has played a major role in assisting with this new increased burden of travel anxiety. The decline in international travel has also stemmed from the individuals fear of becoming ill in transit or abroad.

How else has Covid-19 affected international travel? Many countries require you to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival from high risk areas. Examples of such countries implementing this rule include the UK, Abu Dhabi, Jordan, Kuwait, Estonia, Romania, Ukraine, Malta, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and Finland. Approximately 3 billion people are residing in countries enforcing complete border closure to foreigners. The borders are closed for entering the United States, Australia and Singapore for all non-citizens and residents. 

Covid-19 Impact on the Airline Industry

Dr Johnson D’souza has said that “the travel and tourism sectors have faced unprecedented challenges during this global health emergency. To prevent the spread of Covid-19, travellers are often required to present a negative test result within a limited time window, usually 72 hours, before they are allowed to board their flight.”

“Travellers get access to fast testing and doctor-certification within their strict time window requirements, so they can stay safe and avoid travel complications.”

The travel and tourism industry is one of the fastest growing economic sectors globally. The sector witnessed a 59% growth over the course of a decade in international tourist arrivals from 1.5 billion in 2019 compared to 880 million in 2009. 93% of the world population live in countries with Covid-19 related restrictions. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) financial outlook showed that airlines across the globe are expected to lose $84.3 billion by the end of 2020. Travel restrictions due to Covid-19 have resulted in a closure of many borders and the suspension of flights going in and out in an effort to help contain the pandemic. 

Although things have started to pick back up in travel, it’s no surprise that the airline industry has been heavily affected. It’s shocking to see just how many airlines have filed for bankruptcy and gone into administration. 

LATAM: In May, the largest airline to file for bankruptcy is Chile’s LATAM. LATAM accounts for 63% of all travel into Chile, the airline says they will continue flying as it restructures its debts in bankruptcy court. 

Avianca: The Colombian airline Avianca survived the great depression but not Covid-19. The airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, like LATAM, they will continue flying as it restructures.

Virgin Australia: Virgin Australia is the second biggest airline in Australia and the largest airline to collapse in Australian history. After almost 20 years of operation, they filed for voluntary administration – the equivalent to bankruptcy restructuring. The private equity group Bain Capital have agreed to buy the airline; its future remains unknown. 


Flybe: Flybe is a British regional airline that also entered into voluntary administration like Virgin Australia in March. They have been struggling for quite some time, before Covid-19, both the government and Virgin Atlantic tried to save it.

The idea of purchasing a cheap flight for a short holiday nearby has no longer been possible as many international borders require you to undergo a Covid-19 PCR test at a private medical centre prior to your departure and travel with a Fit To Fly Certificate which states you have recently tested negative for Covid-19 and are safe to travel. This involves making sure you’re organised with your travel plans to make sure you get tested in time to receive your Fit to Fly Certificate. Find out more about COVID-19 Travel requirements by reading below.

COVID-19 Travel Requirements

Covid-19 PCR Test Requirements

You may feel confused by all of this, but it’s okay because we’re here to explain it to you. What is a Covid-19 PCR test? PCR stands for a Polymerase Chain Reaction. This type of testing is a molecular test and is the most common way of testing for COVID-19 worldwide. PCR tests are highly sensitive, they are able to tell you if you have an active infection currently. The test involves collecting mucus from your nose or throat using a specialised swab which is then taken to a lab for results. Turnaround time is roughly 48 hours, to make this process easier for you, you should make an appointment at an accredited medical clinic such as HMI that administers the test. 

For more information on what the governments recommend regarding foreign travel advice and COVID-19 travel requirements click here.

Covid-19 Vaccine Passport

In early November, a new Covid-19 vaccine was announced by Pfizer and BioNTech that has since shown in trials to be 95% effective. This is one of eleven vaccines in its final stage of testing. Since the release of this information, two more major vaccines have been announced by an American biotech company called Moderna and the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine which is up to 90% effective depending on the dosage given. This is the main vaccine the UK is getting their hands on, having already ordered 100 million doses, each person requires 2 doses of it in order to be effective, this will stop 70% of the UK population from developing Covid-19 symptoms. The UK will receive 10 million doses of the BioNTech vaccine, 5 million shots of the Moderna and of course 100 million from Oxford AstraZeneca, as this vaccination costs less. 

Vaccine trials will continue till the end of 2020 and will need to receive licenses to confirm they are safe. What does this mean for international travel? Well, it means that it is very likely that travelling abroad may be easier in 2021, although there will still be strict entry requirements right through 2021. It will take months for the vaccine to be distributed around the country and international travel will largely depend on the precautions other countries are taking. 

Qantas airline says that in future, international travellers must be able to prove that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to board their flights. Many are uncertain of whether they will get the Covid-19 vaccine, many nations will not make a strict entry requirement of providing proof of vaccination record (POVR) the only way you’ll be able to enter the country. For example, Covid-19 Fit to Fly PCR tests and a 14 day quarantine have been the current travel restrictions for many countries, now POVR will be added to the list of methods you can use to enter a country as a way of boosting tourism in developing countries. 

How We Can Help with your COVID-19 Travel Requirements

Make sure you call us in advance to book a PCR test before your flight, when doing so please provide us with your travel destination so we can let you know if you must have your PCR test done 72 hours or 96 hours prior to your flight as it varies depending on your travel destination. On the phone with us you’ll be able to decide if you’d rather be tested at one of our clinics or do it yourself from home. We have approximately 15 clinics across the United Kingdom to make sure we have one close by for everyone. We recommend getting tested at one of our clinics to make the process easier and more efficient for you, HMI has a 98% success rate, this means you’re in good hands and don’t need to worry about receiving your Fit to Fly Certificate in time. All you need to do is show up to your designated clinic in time and our experienced doctors will take care of the rest.

If you have any questions feel free to call us 0330 390 3666 or email us at info@harleymedic.co.uk.

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