Qantas Plane

Pre-departure COVID-19 tests

If you're travelling internationally, you may need a COVID-19 pre-departure test, even if you've received a COVID-19 vaccination.

Ensure you check the latest government travel requirements before you travel.

Testing requirements

The pre-departure testing requirements, including types of acceptable tests and documentation required, are set by the countries you are travelling to and transiting through. It's your responsibility to check latest government travel requirements well before your departure date so you can prepare. This may include the minimum age of passengers who are required to take the test, approved testing providers and test types. You'll also need to ensure you have valid test result documentation to meet the criteria for travel.

What type of test do I need?

There are different types of COVID-19 tests available, so it's important you check the requirements of the country you're travelling to and transiting through as they may have different guidelines, including approved documentation. Some common test types are listed below, however travel advisories can change at any time, so you should always refer to government websites for the latest information.

Type of test More information

Viral nucleic acid tests (NAAT):

Polymerase chain reaction tests (PCR or RT-PCR)

PCR tests are the gold standard of COVID-19 testing and are universally accepted by all countries that require a pre-departure test.

Some may also accept RT-LAMP or other NAAT tests - refer to government websites for more information.

Lateral flow tests (LFT/LFD):

Rapid Antigen tests (RAT or ART)

Rapid antigen tests can provide a result in 15-30 minutes, however are less sensitive than a PCR test and is not accepted by all countries. 

Self-administered antigen tests may not be accepted - refer to government websites for more information.

Antibody (or serology) tests:

IgM antibody test

Antibody tests can indicate whether you've had past exposure to COVID-19 and may be required in addition to PCR tests in some countries.

When to get your test

Your pre-departure testing window may vary depending on the country you're travelling to and your vaccination status. You'll need to check the government requirements, and comply with the most stringent requirement that applies to your trip.

If based on hours you need to count back from the scheduled departure time of your first international flight. If the time frame is based on calendar days your day of departure counts as day 0. For example if you are flying on a Friday and your destination requires you to take a test 3 days prior to travel - you can take the test anytime on the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

You may consider getting your test as close as possible to departure to allow for any potential flight delays, as long as you can ensure your testing provider can deliver the results in time.

Applying for medical clearance

If you've previously had COVID-19, your pre-departure COVID-19 test can show a positive result even if you're not currently infected. Check COVID-19 past positive medical clearance for more information on the documents you need to provide for travel. You may also need to carry proof of recovery to comply with individual country requirements.

Showing proof of test results

It's important you have valid proof of your pre-departure COVID-19 test result before you check-in and arrive at the airport. The approved documentation is generally provided by private pathology clinics. You're responsible for paying for your COVID-19 test. 

Free testing clinics are not suitable in most cases, as you need to ensure your test result includes all the necessary information to meet  the relevant government requirements for international travel.

Paper copy of test certificate displaying valid fields

Valid COVID-19 test result example

Printed or digital record with all required information, including:

  • Your full name (as per passport)
  • Your date of birth and/or passport number
  • Where and when the sample collection was taken
  • Name of the testing laboratory
  • Test method used
  • Test result

Invalid COVID-19 test result example

Printed or digital record which lacks all the required information, such as:

  • SMS results from free community testing and drive-through clinics
  • Results that don't show a valid test type or testing facility as required by your destination
  • Results that don't show your collection sample was taken within the time frame required by your destination

Things you need to know:

  • Self-administered COVID-19 tests taken without supervision of a trained person may not be accepted for travel depending on government requirements.
  • Tests completed outside the required timeframe won’t be accepted.
  •  If you receive an inconclusive test result, this will be treated the same as a positive test result.
  • If you receive your results electronically, you may also wish to carry a printed copy of your testing certificate with you while travelling.
  • If you're feeling unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should defer your travel plans. For more information, visit Fly Well.