FAQs for COVID Testing for Travel

REF A -- CDC FAQs for UK to US Travel: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-UK-air-travelers.html

REF B -- CDC Order: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/pdf/UK-Airline-Testing-Order_CLEAN-R3-signed-12252020-encrypted.pdf

REF C -- CDC Media Statement: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/s1224-CDC-to-require-negative-test.html

REF D -- Private Providers for Coronavirus Testing: General Testing: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/list-of-private-providers-of-coronavirus-testing/list-of-private-providers-of-coronavirus-testing#providers-general-testing

Q1: What new travel requirements are there to travel to the United States?

A1: Effective 28 December 2020, ALL travelers (this includes US and non-US citizens no matter military affiliation), to the US from the UK are required to have a negative COVID test prior to flight departure.  The test must be conducted no more than 3 calendar days prior to flight departure.  Travelers will need to have proof of negative test results available to provide to airport officials via electronic or hard copy.  The test result documentation must include information that identifies the person, a specimen collection date showing test was done within the 3 calendar days before the flight departure, the type of test performed, and a negative result (REF A).

Q2: Are US citizens required to get a test before travelling?

A2: Per CDC order, ALL travelers entering the US from the UK are required to take a test within 3 calendar days of flight departure and show evidence of a negative result.  This includes US and non-US citizens.

Q3: When is the test required?

A3: Test sample must be collected and processed no earlier than 3 calendar days of flight departure from the UK.

Q4: What kind of test do I need to get?

A4: The CDC order (REF B & REF C) outlines that a polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP), or antigen testing are acceptable methods for tests to be administered.

Q5: Where can I get a COVID test before travelling?

A5: For ordinary leave travel, tests can be acquired through select airports (not required to be from the one departing from) or approved private testing locations (REF D).  For official travel (PCS, TDY, emergency leave, student travel on official student-dependent travel orders, or other government-funded travel), the same sources for ordinary leave travel can be utilized at a reimbursable cost or your supporting military medical clinic may support sample collection for processing at RAF Lakenheath.

Q6: Can I go to the military medical clinic to get a test?

A6: Yes, if travelling on official orders for PCS, TDY, emergency leave, student dependent travel, or other government-funded travel.  However, samples will be subjected to transportation time to RAF Lakenheath and prioritization queues for symptomatic samples at RAF Lakenheath which may result in being notified of test results more than 48 hours later.  It is advisable to call first to identify availability but may be preferable to schedule off-base testing to ensure test results within 48 hours and not impact departure.

Q7: Can I get a test through NHS?

A7: No, not for the purposes of traveling.  NHS tests can only be used for symptomatic personnel or as advised by public health or primary care providers.

Q8: How long does it take for test results?

A8: For PCR or testing through your military medical clinic, it is estimated to take 48 hours (or more).  For antigen testing, estimations are 45 minutes.  However based on experiences from personnel, results may take longer to be returned.  It is expected as processes improve, timelines will become more reliable and more testing options to be available in the future. 

Q9: How much lead time will I need if I get a test administered at the airport?

A9: Although wait times will likely improve as the process is refined, personnel will need to make a reservation for a testing appointment prior to arriving to the airport.  The time at London Heathrow International Airport to get a test administered and results has been reported to exceed 8 hours.  With that, it is recommended travelers to have tests completed earlier at any available testing site (any airport or private provider) to allow for a timely test result.

Q10: How much does the test cost?

A10: Tests have been estimated to cost between $50 to $150 depending on the testing location and type of test.  Military medical clinic testing is available to eligible members.

Q11: Will the government cover the costs for a test?

A11: For official travel where the government is paying for the travel and travel orders are provided (TDY, PCS, Student Dependent, etc), any testing can be covered through reimbursement per Joint Travel Regulations.  Personnel are advised to maintain copies of all invoices to request reimbursement.  For any other travel purposes, including ordinary leave, costs will be covered by the traveler.

Q12: What should I do if my test comes back positive?

A12: Upon confirmation of a positive COVID test, positive travelers will immediately isolate themselves away from others, halt travel movements, inform supporting unit leadership, and be prepared to self-isolate for up to 10 days.  The member will be responsible for changing flights with SATO (if on official travel) or with the airline if on personal travel.

Some Options to Consider for Testing in the UK

Please contact below providers before traveling to sites to acquire tests to assure supportability:

-        From GOV.UK, a private provider listing for general coronavirus testing: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/list-of-private-providers-of-coronavirus-testing/list-of-private-providers-of-coronavirus-testing#providers-general-testing

-        Airports

o   East Midlands: https://www.eastmidlandsairport.com/coronavirus/testing/

o   London Heathrow: https://www.heathrow.com/at-the-airport/fly-safe/covid-19-test

o   London Luton: https://www.london-luton.co.uk/testing

o   London Stansted: https://www.stanstedairport.com/coronavirus/testing/

o   Manchester: https://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/coronavirus/testing/

-        Supporting Military Treatment Clinic      

o   RAF Alconbury: 01480 842273

o   RAF Croughton: 01280 708737

-        Additional Recommendations/Considerations

o   Appointments for testing are recommended. Test results are required at time of check-in so earlier arrival times will be needed or testing prior to the day of departure may be required.

o   Testing at one airport may be used even if you depart from another airport.  For example, testing at Stanstead Airport on a Friday with a departing flight from Heathrow on Saturday morning is acceptable if traveler self-isolates from testing to departure. "Edit Content" from the Edit (Pencil Icon) Action Menu.