Coronavirus (COVID-19): taking a coronavirus test before travelling to Northern Ireland

You must have proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test to travel to Northern Ireland from abroad (this does not apply to travel from the Common Travel Area (CTA) unless your journey began outside the CTA).

When you need to take a test

You must take a test, even if you're normally a resident in Northern Ireland.

You must take the test in the three days before you start your journey to Northern Ireland.

For example, if you travel on Friday, you must take a test on the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

You will need to present valid proof of your negative test before you board to travel to Northern Ireland.

If you don’t present proof of a negative test result certificate, you may not be able to board your transport to Northern Ireland.

If you arrive in Northern Ireland without proof of a negative test result, you could be fined £500.

You can choose to take a test:

  • in the place where you start your journey
  • in another country on your way to Northern Ireland

If you plan to take a test on your way to Northern Ireland, you must make sure that this is possible before you set out.

Some countries have entry restrictions in place, which mean you may not be able to get tested there.

If you do not have proof of a test because you planned to get tested on your journey, but you were not able to do so, you will be allowed to board. But you may be fined £500 on arrival in Northern Ireland because you don’t have a valid test result.

Connecting flights

You should get a test within three days of your final departure point to Northern Ireland.

But if you have one or more connecting flights to the UK, you should take a test as close as possible to the date of the first flight - if the connecting flights were booked as a single passenger record.

Test providers and type of test

You will need to find a test provider.

You must make sure that the test provider can meet the standards for pre-departure testing.

The test must:

  • meet performance standards of greater than or equal to 97 per cent specificity, greater than or equal to 80 per cent sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml
  • this could include tests such as:
    • a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests
    • an antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device

It is your responsibility to make sure the test meets the minimum standards for sensitivity, specificity and viral load details, so you must check with your test provider that it meets those standards.

You may not be able to travel if the test does not meet these standards.

It is your responsibility to make sure you get the right test that meets the above requirements.

Where information about providers of tests is available locally, FCDO travel advice pages will be updated with this information.

If you need consular assistance you should contact the nearest consulate, embassy or high commission.

If you take your test in the UK, ahead of a return journey of less than three days, you must use a private test provider. You cannot use an NHS or HSC Test and Trace test.

Information that the test result must include

Your test result must be in either English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted, and you must provide the original test result certificate.

It must include the following information:

  • your name, which should match the name on your travel documents
  • your date of birth or age
  • the result of the test
  • the date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
  • the name of the test provider and their contact details
  • the name of the test device

If the test result does not include this information you may not be able to board, and may not be able to travel to Northern Ireland.

If you arrive without a test result that includes this information, you will be committing a criminal offence and could receive a £500 fine.

Your test result can be provided as a physical, printed document, or by email or text message, which you can show on your phone. Make sure that your device is charged.

Positive test results

If your test result is positive, you must not travel. You must follow local rules and guidance for positive coronavirus cases.

If the result is inconclusive, you must take another test.

If you need consular assistance, you should contact the nearest consulate, embassy or high commission.

Exemptions – people who don’t need to take a test

Travel from some countries

You do not need to take a test if you began your journey to Northern Ireland from:

  • the Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey
  • Ascension, Falkland Islands, St Helena or Myanmar

Children and medical reasons

Children aged under 11 do not need to take a test.

You do not need to take a test if you are travelling to the UK:

  • for urgent medical treatment or are accompanying someone who is travelling for urgent medical treatment, and it is not reasonably practicable for you to obtain a negative COVID-19 test in the three days before departure
  • if you have a medical condition which means you cannot take a test – you must present a note from a medical practitioner at check in and to Border Force staff on arrival in Northern Ireland

Exempt jobs

People doing the following jobs do not need to take a test:

  • border and customs officials
  • hauliers
  • air, maritime and rail crew
  • civil aviation inspectors
  • people transporting human cells and blood products
  • seamen and masters and inspectors and surveyors of ships
  • specialist technical workers - goods and services

Also, in limited circumstances:

  • defence personnel, visiting forces and government contractors
  • foreign government officials
  • UK government officials conducting essential state business, essential government work or essential policing

 

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