Pre-departure tests for flights from abroad
If you’re aged 12 or over, you will need to provide proof when you board a flight to Scotland from abroad that you've taken a COVID-19 PCR or lateral flow test. Your proof will need to show that:
- your COVID-19 test was taken no more than 2 days before your flight
- the result of your test was negative
You may also be asked to provide proof of your negative test when you arrive in Scotland.
Travel within the UK and the Common Travel Area
You do not need to take a COVID-19 test before travelling if you’ve only been in these countries in the 10 days before you travel to Scotland
- Northern Ireland
- Isle of Man
This also applies to a small number of UK overseas territories:
- Falkland Islands
- St Helena
The type of test you will need to take
The test you take must meet standards of ≥97% specificity and ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml.
Suitable tests include:
- a nucleic acid test, including a PCR test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests
- an antigen test, such as a rapid lateral flow test, though many lateral flow devices may not meet the standards needed – you must check the test you buy meets standards of ≥97% specificity and ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml
You may not be able to travel if the test you buy does not meet these standards.
If you are travelling from abroad, the foreign travel advice pages on gov.uk will have the latest updates about where you can buy COVID-19 tests in the country you are travelling from.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, you should contact your nearest consulate, embassy or high commission.
What your test result must include
Your test result must be in either English, French or Spanish.
You must provide your original test result certificate. This can be a paper test result, or an original result you have had in an email or text message.
The test result must include:
- your name, which should match the name on your travel documents
- your date of birth or age
- the negative result of the test
- the date the test sample was collected or received by the company or business who did the test
- the name of the company or business who did the test and their contact details
- the name of your test device
If your test result does not include all these things, you may not be able to travel to Scotland.
Positive test results
If your test result is positive, you must not travel. You must follow local rules and guidance for positive COVID-19 cases.
If the result of your test is not clear, you must take another test.
Previous positive test results
If you have recently tested positive for coronavirus and more than 10 days have passed since your positive test, you may be concerned that you will test positive pre-departure and this will prevent you from travelling. Evidence of prior infection does not remove the requirement to provide a negative pre-departure test to travel to Scotland, or once in Scotland. This is to mitigate against the risk of re-infection with a different variant of coronavirus.
If you have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days, we would recommend that you select a lateral flow device (LFD) for pre-departure testing, as LFDs are significantly less likely to give persistent positives for someone who has tested positive within the previous 90 days. LFDs must meet the minimum standards of 97% specificity and 80% sensitivity.
Getting a test in a country you are travelling through
You will need to show your test result when you board a flight to Scotland.
If you do not have a test result because you were not able to get one in a country you travelled through, and you are not able to enter the country, you will be allowed to board your transport to Scotland.
If this happens, you may be fined £480 on arrival in Scotland for not having a valid test result and you must self-isolate for 10 days.
You do not need to take a pre-departure test if you’re travelling to Scotland from Ethiopia. This is as a result of the current security situation in Ethiopia.
You can find travel advice for Ethiopia on GOV.UK.
Children under 18
Everybody aged 12 or over needs to take a COVID-19 PCR or lateral flow test before boarding a flight to Scotland from abroad. Children aged 11 and under do not need to take this test.
If you are travelling for medical reasons
Even if you’re not fully vaccinated, you do not need to take a test if you:
- are travelling to the UK for urgent medical treatment, or supporting someone who is travelling for urgent medical treatment, and you're not able to take a COVID-19 test in the 3 days before your journey
- have a medical condition that means you cannot take a test – you must present a note from a doctor or other healthcare provider when you arrive - this must be in English or have been translated into English
- have a disability that means you're not able to take a COVID-19 test
- could not get a COVID-19 test at any point of your journey, or in the last 3 days before you left for Scotland - you may be fined if you were able to buy a test but chose not to
If you’re part of a current COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial, or you have been in the past, you may count as fully vaccinated. This covers phase 2 and phase 3 trials in a World Health Organisation Stringent Regulatory Authority country or trials given by the European Medicines Agency. If you count as fully vaccinated because of a clinical trial, you must be able to provide proof that you are or were part of a clinical trial when travelling to Scotland.
Find out more about job exemptions if you need to check whether they apply to you.
Test to Release scheme
Test to Release is not available to those travelling to Scotland.
Scottish islands and rural areas – returning test kits delivered to your home
If you live on a Scottish island or in a rural community where there are no priority mailboxes to return international travel test kits, use a normal Royal Mail post box instead.
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House