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What is the best covid test for me?

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How do you decide which covid test best meets your needs?

There are various types of covid test, and some countries require that you take a specific type of covid test before they will allow you in. Failing to produce a covid test certificate can delay your journey, and you may even be sent back to Canada.

The two types of covid test that are used by travellers are PCR tests and rapid antigen tests. These are both viral covid tests. They look for current infection with the virus that causes covid-19 by testing samples taken from your nose and mouth using a long swab. The sample can be taken in a clinic or pharmacy, or at home.

PCR tests for covid-19

Sample for covid testing undergo PCR testing in a lab. It can take longer to get PCR test results, but in some cases Canadian Travel Clinics can get same-day results for a PCR test. PCR tests are typically more expensive.

Rapid antigen tests for covid-19

Rapid antigen tests for covid give results within the hour. In most cases, a single negative antigen test result taken within a specified time frame before travel is considered enough – but check specific requirements for your destination. The CDC recommends confirming a negative antigen test result with a second test 48 hours later.

What covid test do I need to get for travel?

Governments and administrations have been responding rapidly and without notice to local covid situations. This includes covid test entry and exit requirements for travellers. So, it’s important to keep an eye on what is happening at your destination at every stage of planning your trip abroad. You can do this by checking the Canadian embassy at your destination. Another reliable resource for information about covid precautions is the Government of Canada’s travel advisories.

You should also review Canada’s entry requirements in case they change during your trip. the Government of Canada has a page about covid-19 and international travel.

What is the most accurate covid test for travellers?

If you know that the administration at your destination requires a result from a particular type of test, that is the test you should use.

But if you are testing for other reasons – for example, you want to check that you are not infected with covid before visiting a vulnerable person – then your choice of test depends on several factors. The most reliable test is a PCR test; but they are more expensive than a rapid antigen test, and it takes longer to get the results. You can confirm a negative rapid antigen test result by taking another test 48 hours later.

The CDC has some information that might help you choose the right covid test.

Where can I get a covid test for travelling?

Once you know which covid test you need for your trip, whether it’s an antigen test or a PCR test, you can look for a covid testing centre near you. It may be possible to get a covid test in a health centre, pharmacy or there may even be a drive-thru covid testing centre near you.

Canadian Travel Clinics offers PCR and/or antigen covid testing at the following branches:

Where can I get a covid vaccine appointment?

We can provide appointments for covid vaccines at our clinics in Alberta. To get vaccinated against covid-19, Alberta residents can make an appointment at:

These covid shots are free for residents of Alberta.