PCR Test (for Travel)


Home PCR Travel Test Kits – Once you receive a kit take a swab sample and post it to our lab in the pre-paid envelope provided. Your results will be emailed to you within 48 hours of receipt.

Please note, this is not suitable when your destination has a 72-hour test window. Please choose an in-clinic test if your travel window is 72 hours or less. Book online here.

Additional information


1 Test (Pre or Post Travel), 2 Tests (Pre and Post Travel)

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A swab of an individual’s nasal cavity is taken and sent off to the UK laboratories with which we have partnered. The sample will be examined by medical professionals, who will determine if RNA related to COVID-19 is present. Patients will receive results of the PCR test within 48 hours of receipt.

A negative results sheet (sent via email) can be used a fit-to-fly certificate. Please check individual country entry requirements as there may be separate testing requirements for different airlines and different countries.


  • What is a PCR test kit?

      The PCR travel test kit is a portable swab-test which determines if you are currently infected with COVID-19.  You use the swab to collect a sample from the throat and nasal cavities then post the sample to our laboratory in the pre-paid envelope provided.


  • Are PCR tests mandatory for international travel?

      Many countries now legally require evidence of a negative PCR test taken within a specific window of time.

      Additionally, by undergoing the PCR test before travelling, you can ensure that you are safe to travel and that you will not pass COVID-19 onto others. This is not a replacement for safety measures such as social distancing, which should still be maintained.

      It is important to remember that a PCR test does not replace measures that have been put in place for public safety such as social distancing.

  • How does the PCR test work?

      PCR tests involve replicating DNA within a sample that is taken from a person’s nasal and throat cavity. This is done so that there is a larger quantity of DNA to be examined. RNA may need to be converted to DNA for this to take place, as is the case with the COVID-19 PCR test. Once this stage of PCR testing is complete, we will examine the DNA to establish whether it is linked to a specific illness or disease.

      In the case of COVID-19 PCR testing, we will determine if the RNA in the sample is related to the coronavirus. If the RNA is found to be linked to COVID-19, this means that the individual is currently infected with COVID-19 and may pose a risk to others.

  • What does PCR stand for?

      PCR stands for ‘polymerase chain reaction.’ PCR testing involves duplicating DNA found within a sample obtained from an individual’s nasal cavity, in order to enlarge the quantity of DNA and allow for effective analysis. ‘Polymerase’ is an enzyme which contributes to the copying of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) or RNA (ribonucleic acid).

  • Is PCR testing the same method the government are using?

      Yes, the government is also using PCR testing to identify those who are currently infected with COVID-19, although those tests are unsuitable for travel.

  • When will I receive my results?

      You will be informed of your results from the PCR test around 48 hours after your sample has been received by the laboratory. You will also be given official documentation from the laboratory that will explain your results.

  • What should I do if I test positive?

      If you receive a positive result, this means that you are currently infected with COVID-19 and you will not be allowed to travel until you can present evidence of recovery. You should begin self-isolating immediately after receiving your result.

      If you would like further information on what you should do if you receive a positive result, you should visit https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 or contact the NHS on 111.

  • Can pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding be tested?

      Yes. This test will not harm the mother or baby.

  • What is the science behind PCR testing?

      PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing examines DNA or RNA within a sample to determine if this matches the genetic material of an antigen. The name of the process refers to the replication of DNA that is required to ensure that there is enough DNA to be analysed.

      DNA and RNA carry genetic material. DNA stands for ‘Deoxyribonucleic Acid,’ which copies and stores genetic information within an organism and allows for this to be passed onto offspring. It has two strands and takes the form of a double helix. RNA stands for ‘Ribonucleic Acid’, and its role is to take genetic material within DNA and use this to build proteins. RNA has one strand and is shorter than DNA.

      Initially, the individual must take a sample from the nasopharynx using a swab-like device. The nasopharynx is the upper part of the throat that is located behind the nose. The swab-like device will collect droplets of saliva, mucous and any DNA or RNA of an antigen if a person is infected.

      Following the collection of the sample, this will be preserved in a liquid and sent to a laboratory for examination. First, chemicals will be applied to the sample to eradicate any other cells or components aside from the DNA or RNA. If there is RNA in the sample rather than DNA, enzymes are used to turn the RNA into DNA.

      The majority of PCR testing involves copying DNA. To do so, medical professionals must use ‘primers’, which are short sequences of DNA that match the ends of the DNA they are attempting to copy. Primers are single-stranded. ‘Polymerase’ must also be used, which is an enzyme that examines the code of the DNA and contributes to the duplication process.

      To begin the DNA replication process, medical professionals must initiate ‘denaturation,’ which forces DNA to lose its double-stranded structure, separating it into single strands. Next, the temperature is lowered, and the primers are linked to the single strands of DNA. Polymerase is applied to the joined DNA and primers, which copies the code. This part of the process is called ‘annealing.’ Finally, ‘extension’ takes place. This produces double-stranded DNA. These three stages allow for one double-stranded DNA to be increased to two sections of double-stranded DNA. Therefore, the whole process must be repeated multiple times to enlarge the DNA sample for proper analysis.

      PCR testing can determine if a person is currently infected with an illness or disease from a small sample, making it one of the most valuable methods of testing. Furthermore, by determining if a person is infected with an antigen before any symptoms are apparent, this can help to prevent the development of serious infections, and subsequently stop these infections from spreading.

  • Are in-clinic PCR tests available?

      Yes, we offer in-clinic PCR tests at several test centres throughout the UK. Follow this link to find your nearest VIVO Clinic location.

      In case the entry requirements of your destination country specify that the pre-travel PCR test must taken within 72 hours or less before travel, in-clinic tests are essential.

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