TPG reader question: Do I still need to book a Day 2 test if I leave the UK before Day 2?

Oct 17, 2021

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a weekly column to answer your credit card, points and miles and general travel questions. If you’d like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguyuk, message us on Facebook or email us at tips@thepointsguy.co.uk.


The pandemic has made travel somewhat more complicated. Rather than booking spontaneous weekends away where you head to the airport at a moment’s notice, you now need to be aware of the COVID-19 entry requirements for each country (including returning to the United Kingdom).

Testing requirements to travel to or return to the United Kingdom have become much simpler recently. Previously, if you were travelling from an amber country and wanted to reduce your quarantine down to only five days (instead of 10) you would have had to purchase up to four separate COVID-19 tests.

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Fortunately, testing requirements have now been significantly reduced. If you are fully vaccinated, travelling from a country that is not on the tiny ‘do not travel’ list you do not need a pre-departure test – all you need is a Day 2 test.

This brings us to this week’s TPG reader question of the week.

My Mum is coming to the UK from Austria and we will be flying to Portugal together from London. The time between arriving in the UK and leaving again is less than 2 days – does she still need a test? And if not, how does it work on the Passenger Locator Form?

Teresa, TPG UK reader

Related: 8 of the most underrated destinations in Portugal

Unfortunately, and very frustratingly, you must purchase a Day 2 even if you are not in the country to take it. This rule makes little sense to book something you can’t use, though remember you can take this test on or before Day 2, so anyone such as Teresa’s Mother could take the test on the same day they arrive into the United Kingdom, if she want to ensure she are testing negative for their trip to Portugal.

Portugal used to require a negative test for entry even for those fully vaccinated though this has just changed so a test for entry is no longer required.

You currently cannot complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) without a Day 2 test reference number and you will not be able to check-in for your flight without a completed PLF. If you are only transiting the U.K. and not entering the country you do not need to organise a Day 2 test but if you enter the country, even for just 24 hours you will unfortunately need to a book a test you not be able to even take.

Currently the Day 2 test must be a PCR test though this is expected to reduce to an antigen/lateral flow test later this month.

Featured image by Patrik Bergström / Getty Images

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