FOR expats, going home for Christmas has become more complicated than ever before, with new coronavirus safeguarding measures being introduced across the globe.  

Additionally, all travellers returning to Spain by plane or boat must provide a negative PCR test that has been carried out no earlier than 72 hours before arrival to the country, as of regulations on November 23. 

Here is a run down of why, where, and how much for, you can get the much-coveted PCR test this festive season. 

What is a PCR test? 

A PCR test is a molecular test that can be carried out by nasal swabs, throat swabs or saliva tests.

Also known as ‘viral RNA tests’ the procedure checks for genetic material in your system that can only come from COVID-19. 

Why is a PCR test the best method?

Coronavirus genetic material is present before any symptoms of the virus are, so PCR tests can detect COVID at the earliest stages of the virus. 

Do the NHS use PCR tests?

Currently, PCR tests are not used by the NHS as they are very labour intensive for medical staff processing the results.

If travellers from Spain or other countries wish to take part in the new ‘test and release’ scheme, which will start on December 15 to cut quarantine to 5 days upon returning to the UK, then they must book a private test from a list of clinics on the GOV website

The most important thing is to make sure the test will be processed by a UKAS-approved laboratory and the test is CE-marked to prove it conforms with health and safety protection standards. 

How long does it take to get the results?

Really, this depends on how busy the lab is at the time. Some private clinics guarantee your test to be returned within 48, or even 24 hours.

Usually, the faster you need the results the more money you should be prepared to pay. 

So, it’s safest not to leave your test until the same day as your flight back to Spain unless your results can be guaranteed to be returned on time by the clinic you’ve selected. 

But don’t forget, the test shouldn’t be carried out more than 72 hours in advance. 

What should be on the certificate?

According to the latest regulations from Spanish authorities, the negative PCR test document should: 

  • Be the original copy of the results (either electronic or paper) 
  • Be written in Spanish or English 
  • Contain the traveller’s full name 
  • Include the traveller’s passport or ID card number 
  • Declare the date the test was carried out 
  • Provide the name and contact details of the medical test provider 
  • Explain the technique used to get the result

What happens if I go to the airport without a PCR test?

Some passengers have been denied entry to the plane at all. Meanwhile, others have been stopped upon landing in Spain.

If caught without a negative PCR certificate, travellers will have to take and pay for a test on arrival, as well as facing a fine from the authorities. So, it’s really not worth the risk. 

How much does a PCR test cost? 

This varies from country to country and clinic to clinic. In France, the test costs €54 and will be reimbursed via the health insurance card ‘carte vitale’.

In Italy, a PCR test at a public healthcare site will cost between €60 to €80 depending on your region, with the cost upping substantially in private clinics. 

In Germany, tests are available for free if you are a German resident returning from a high-risk area, otherwise it can cost between €59-€139 depending on the speed of the results.

In Spain, the Spanish Association of Clinical Laboratories (AEFA) have estimated that PCRS cost, on average, €150. 

And in Sweden they’re well and truly breaking the bank, with some tests costing over €200.

Currently in the UK, tests cost €144 (£120) in Boots or up to a whopping €307 (£275) in some private clinics. 

If you’ve travelled to Spain from a high-risk country, how much did your PCR test cost? Contact the Olive Press at newsdesk@theolivepress.es or call 951 273 575

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