Why you should translate your COVID-19 test, and how to do it

The global COVID-19 pandemic has introduced big changes – and complications – to foreign travel. At the time of writing (March 2021), there seems to be no solution on the horizon, given the only effective resolution is through the distribution of vaccines, the development of new treatments or other developments. 

Until then, we have to acknowledge that travel to other countries will often require the traveller to have a negative COVID-19 test before arriving at their destination. More specifically, in most cases what will be demanded is a PCR (polymerise chain reaction) test, since the other quick tests are generally not accepted by the authorities. Additionally, many national authorities may also demand the traveller spend some time in quarantine when entering their country, with these requirements being subject to change at any time as the situation evolves.

This all means that, before travelling, you must be aware of the most up-to-date and accurate information, which you should always get from official sources. This means you must check the websites of the government, authorities and health services of each country you will visit, or that you should contact their embassies to clear up any doubts you may have.

The fact is that this reality has placed new demands on travellers: in many cases it will not be enough to have a negative COVID test, since many countries will demand a certified translation of the test results. 

Within the European Union, there are a number of variations on this matter: in Luxembourg, the PCR test result must be presented in paper or digitally and “be accompanied with a translation into one of Luxembourg’s administrative languages (Luxembourgish, French, German) or English.” In the Netherlands, the test results document can be in Portuguese, so no translation is necessary in this case. The requirements are similar outside Europe: in Australia you need a version of the PCR test results in English, while in South Korea they will accept test result documents written in either Korean or English

As a general rule, it is a good idea to carry an English-language copy of the document verifying your negative COVID-19 PCR test with you when travelling, because many countries will accept documents in that language in addition to their own. In any event, you should always confirm this information before travelling – and even if documents in English are accepted, it is always a good idea to have a copy in the official language of the country of destination as this can make the admission process run smoother.

So, if you have to travel during the current global pandemic, you should get a translation agency to certify your translated documents, which will guarantee they will be recognised by the competent authorities. By doing so, you will be spared any unpleasant surprises on your arrival at your destination!

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