Will I need a Covid-19 test to fly to Dubai, Thailand or Australia?

 Author: Dr Mark Ali MBBS BSc FRCS CTh, Medical Director

As coronavirus guidelines change, increasing numbers of travellers are beginning to look further afield. If you’re one of these individuals, you need to be aware of some country-specific travel regulations, as well as the rules for travelling back to the UK. Many countries in the south-east have tougher entry requirements, from more frequent testing and stricter quarantine periods, to complete border closures. In some instances, people looking to travel for leisure, for work or even to migrate need to be aware that it may not be possible at this time.

Covid-19 testing is a recurring priority for many countries like Thailand and the UAE, and something which is required in order to enter. Many of these countries are expecting travellers to complete certified testing in a clinic before you fly, rather than relying upon port testers on arrival. It is vital in these instances to be aware of your responsibilities as a traveller, such as the minimum and maximum time frames in which you must take a Covid-19 test kit before you fly. If you are wondering if you can travel to places like Australia, Dubai or Thailand, take a look at the following advice.

Can I travel to Dubai for work during Covid-19?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the countries which is instilling strict regulations for both those leaving the country, as well as those entering. So much so, if you are a resident of Dubai and wish to return, you must obtain prior approval from Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. While the rest of the UAE does not require approval as of the 12th August, the Government of Dubai has advised that this will remain in place. Returning residents must apply for a permit, and visitors will automatically receive a visa when landing, which lasts for 30 days. However, be aware that the Dubai authorities are the only ones who can grant this.

Before travelling to Dubai, you should take note of some essentials you will need and some forms you will have to submit. Like most countries, you are obliged to fill in and submit a health declaration form. This includes any historical Covid-19 infections you might have had, your contact details, as well as your health insurance details which covers you for travel in the UAE. You are required to submit a quarantine declaration form, on which you will be required to provide details of where you will isolate for 14 days. 

You are also likely to be asked to submit data and use the ‘COVID-19 – DXB’ app. This is the official app offered by the Dubai Health Authority, which provides current information and allows you to find out the best way to get help with coronavirus when in Dubai. 

Can I travel to Thailand for work during Covid-19?

When travelling to any country, it is essential to reference the government website close to your time of departure, as travel advice can change at a moment’s notice. Not only can the advice change and introduce more vigilant procedures for anyone entering the country, but governments can close their borders altogether.

If you are looking to travel to Thailand for work, you must hold a work permit to enter. Currently, Thailand has only a few conditions which will allow nationals to enter the country, not including those simply looking to visit for a holiday. The main exemptions for those entering the country are those who fall under the following:


  • pilots or cabin crew
  • a government representative
  • an individual who has received an exemption from the Prime Minister
  • carriers of cargo
  • a spouse, child or parent of a Thai national
  • someone seeking medical treatment
  • international students

If you believe you fall under a specific category, make sure to consult the government’s exemptions list to ensure you are permitted to enter.

In Thailand, a 14-day quarantine is essential for all travelers. Arrivals from specific exemption categories must undergo testing when landing and again during isolation. You may also be required to download Thailand’s track and trace app - Thai Chana COVID-19 tracking app.

Can I travel to Australia for work during Covid-19?

If you are planning to head to Australia, be aware of the current guidelines. Entry to Australia is closed to all individuals except for Australian citizens and permanent residents, or for those who have an exemption. This may not include people who need to travel to Australia for work purposes. If for whatever reason you must travel to Australia, you are required to isolate for 14-days, but in a designated facility near the port where you arrive. You may also be obliged to pay for the facility you stay at, so be sure to prepare in advance. 

Throughout the progression of the pandemic, Australia has been quick to take action where necessary. Even those with a Refugee and Humanitarian (Class XB) visa who have not yet travelled to Australia are not able to enter at this time, unless they have applied for and have been granted an exemption.

If you are asking yourself how long will I have to quarantine for in the UK after travelling to Australia?’, you’ll be pleased to hear that, currently, there are no self-isolation requirements when returning to the UK.

Will I need to take a PCR Test if travelling through airports?

All travellers to the UAE must have carried out a COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test within 96 hours and must have received a negative result before their departure. You may also need to undertake a second test on arrival and to complete a period of self-isolation. Check with your destination country what tests they accept. For example, if you are flying to Dubai, home antibody test kits are not accepted. PCR tests are the only available option, and a printed certificate issued by the clinic will be requested when travelling. SMS or digital certificates are not accepted.

If you are working or are hoping to return to work in Dubai, it is important to note that all travellers departing from the UAE to the EU and UK will need to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result within 96 hours prior to departure. Similar requirements are in place for travellers wishing to travel to a number of other countries, too. If you work both in the UK and in Dubai, be aware of any isolation periods when landing. At the time of writing, when returning from Dubai and the whole of the UAE, you must self-isolate for 14 days.

Thailand also requires PCR testing for those who are allowed to enter. However, there is no advice that arrivals must take a Covid-19 test when entering Australia, possibly due to the strict procedures already in place. That being said, as this could change, visiting a test clinic and taking a test certificate indicating your infection status could prove beneficial.

What Covid-19 PCR tests are available?

If you require or desire a PCR test to learn your current Covid-19 infection status, there is more than one option available. Private Harley Street Clinic offers PCR tests performed by a medical professional either in the clinic or at home. With these tests, you can often receive the results the next day. Alternatively, if you wish to take a test by yourself at home, you can purchase a PCR test mail order. This test takes slightly longer to receive results - what’s more, it is important to note that the UAE does not accept home test kits.

What can I do to reduce quarantine times in the UK?

If you are looking for peace of mind regardless of what is required of you when travelling, consider our antibody tests or antigen tests. If you are planning to travel elsewhere and want to reduce Quarantine UK times, these could be the perfect solution for you and your family.