COVID Testing in the Turks and Caicos Islands for Canadians returning home to Canada.

Unlike the travel requirements for U.S. travelers returning home, Canadian citizen and permanent residents must have a PCR COVID test. This makes it a little more difficult for those heading North after a TCI vacation.

To return to Canada by air a PCR test with a negative result must be taken within 72 hours of your flight departure.

The types of acceptable tests are:

PCR – Polymerase chain reaction

Nucleic acid test (NAT) or Nucleic acid amplification test (NAATs)

Reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP)

These tests use methods such as a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab, nose swab, or saliva sample.

Getting the Test

There are several places that offer PCR-testing on Providenciales including some of the resorts such as the Seven Stars, the Windsong, Beaches and more. The resorts can even arrange for testing to be done at the resort or off-site.   There are also dedicated labs such as AccuDiagnostics in the Graceway IGA plaza.  These are well organized and can provide results very quickly. Other test centres such as Graceway medical centre and Omnicare Medical Clinic are quoting longer wait times.

Having gone through the process myself just last month I can give first -hand knowledge of the process. I was pleasantly surprised!

Most travelers main concern is getting results back in time for the flight. I was no different. My flight was scheduled for 2.00pm on the Sunday (Air Canada flights are only one a week each Sunday currently). To be safe I booked my test for 3.00 pm on the Thursday, 71 hours before the due flight time. That way I figured I would allow the maximum amount of time to get the results. When I spoke with AccuDiagnostics they made a good point. Booking a test time to early could lead to problems if the flight is delayed. I had not though of this! Imagine that my test is 71 hours before take-off but then the plane is delayed for some reason either leaving Canada or on the return flight. If the delay time is greater than 1 hour, then my test would be outside of the required 72-hour window, and I would not be eligible to board the flight.

The staff at AccuDiagnostics assured me that the result would be received within 24 hours and recommended that I book on the Friday. They also advised that an afternoon appointment would be better because the office is not as busy in the afternoon. So I booked for 2.00 on the Friday.

I arrived at the offices near IGA at 1.50pm, ready for my 2.00 p.m. appointment. There were three people lined up outside. There was a 4-person maximum occupancy for the small interior reception area. It is a good idea to let the receptionist know you have arrived for you appointment because you have to complete some forms. The process is all digital and mobile friendly and is geared to completing everything on your phone or mobile device. You are asked to scan a QR code which then generates an online form to fill in. This consists of completing basic ID information and flight details. It asks for your ID information which could be a passport or drivers licence and that you upload a copy of the ID document. so be sure to have this on hand. Once the form is completed you can continue with the test. This as you already know is a quick 2-minute process. Then it’s just a matter of paying your $185 USD at the desk and away you go. So, 2.20 pm Friday and I’m all done with the assurance that the results will come within 24 hours.

I received an email with the results at 9.30 a.m. on the Saturday morning. This was great as then I could enjoy the last full day on my stay on Provo without no worries. The test is in email form with the result attached as a pdf. You can either download or print the pdf or simply keep the message mail handy as a flagged or starred email.

The ArriveCAN app

Next you must upload your info into the ArriveCAN app. This is much easier than I expected it to be. You complete 3-4 pages on the app with personal ID, including passport info again, flight info and vaccine and test details. Have documents on your phone of to hand so you can upload or take a picture. Once done you get a one-page receipt with big bold code on the screen. At the airport you just show the receipt screen and code at check-in.

To avoid airport delays just be sure to have easy access on your phone to the test results and the ArriveCAN receipt and you’ll have no problems.

I know you will not be that keen to leave the beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands, but if you absolutely must then hopefully this article makes it a smoother process.