The new world of international travel is a complicated one, with what seems like an endless number of possible requirements depending on the country you are travelling to. Indeed, you may be asked to show a negative covid test on arrival (often PCR or Antigen), to fill in a pre-arrival form, to quarantine, or even take a test on arrival at your destination.
For travel to a growing number of countries, you may be exempt from some or all of these requirements if you can show you have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and sometimes, that you have previously recovered from Covid-19.
But what constitutes proof of recovery and how does it vary from country to country?
Generally speaking, proof of recovery is a document you can show to prove that you have been infected from Covid-19 and that you have since recovered.
For a large number of countries, such as Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland or UAE, it is enough to show this by presenting a positive Covid-19 test, dated within a certain timeframe. For most countries, recovery certificates are valid for up to 180 days (6 months) after your first positive test and are only valid after you have fully recovered (10-14 days after infection).
CTN tip: If you received a positive PCR test through the NHS, this will show in the travel section of your NHS Covid App, enabling you to show the QR code for many destinations. With free testing in England coming to an end, you may need to source a private test instead.
Sometimes, destinations such as Bosnia and Herzegovina or Kenya require that as well as a positive test, you must be able to show a note from a healthcare professional stating that you are fully recovered. This can also be called a fit to travel certificate.
CTN tip: Some travel testing providers can produce a certificate of recovery upon proof of a previous positive infection.
In some rare cases, you will need to show proof of a serological (or antibody) test, proving that you have antibodies against Covid-19. This is the case for travel to Moldova or Paraguay.
A final reason you may need to show proof of recovery is if you are recovered, and the pre-departure test you are meant to take comes back positive. NHS guidelines state that you should avoid taking a PCR test for the 90 days following being infected with Covid-19, as there is a small risk you may still test positive due to residual virus (in this case you will not be considered to be actively infectious). Barbados, and a number of other countries, still require you to take a test before arrival regardless of your recovery status but if you have recently recovered and your pre-arrival test is positive, you are still allowed to travel, provided you can show a letter from a healthcare professional stating you are fully recovered and fit to travel.
You can find out more about travel rules for your destination by using our simple question flow below:
I’m fully vaccinated, is proof of recovery relevant for me?
In many cases, if you are exempt from testing or quarantine requirements after you have recovered from Covid-19, you will also be exempt by showing proof of complete vaccination. In this instance, proof of recovery is more relevant for people who are not fully vaccinated or who’s primary series of vaccination (two doses of a 2 dose vaccine or 1 dose of a 1 dose vaccine) has expired.
However, a few countries, such as Canada, the USA and Fiji exempt you from testing before arrival if you have recovered but not if you are fully vaccinated, so it’s always worth considering if it could apply to you.
Recovery may also be more relevant if you were vaccinated outside of the UK. For example, for many EU countries previous infection from Covid-19 is considered to be equivalent to one dose of the vaccine, so under those vaccination programmes you may be considered to have a full course of vaccination and a booster with two vaccines and one infection. This is not the case for the UK’s vaccination programme.
You can read more about how to travel if you have recently recovered here.
The information within this article is accurate at the time of publishing.
Written by Maeve Sally
Published on 16/03/2022
Maeve heads up the Provider Listings and Delivery Team handling all things operations, research and logistics as well as project managing website developments.
Information about testing requirements, entry requirements to the UK and travelling abroad during Covid-19 is CTN’s understanding of the requirements from multiple sources including the UK Government website at the time of publishing - always check full requirements including mandatory documentation and quarantine rules before you travel! By using our site, you confirm that you accept our user terms and conditions and you agree to comply with them. We amend these terms from time to time. Every time you wish to use our site, please check these terms to ensure you understand the terms that apply at that time