The current COVID-19 test requirements for traveling to China consists of two PCR tests within 24 and 48 hours before departure respectively. In principle the rules can be different depending on the country you are traveling from, but this part seems to be the same for most countries. Another general rule seems to be that if you are transiting, you need to get tested and follow the instructions for both the country you start your trip in and in the last transit country before arriving in China.

Several countries seem to have special rules and processes for transiting passengers to make this practically possible (like relaxing the time requirements and having special testing providers that can guarantee two test results within the transfer time). Here is some information about procedures from Lufthansa, Finnair and the rules stated by the Chinese embassies in Germany and Finland that seem to confirm that this is possible.

I have a flight booked from Gothenburg, Sweden to Shanghai with a transit at Heathrow, and I am trying to find similar information for the UK, but reading the rules posted by the Chinese embassy in the UK, I can't find similar possibilities and no information about special testing procedures for transits to China at Heathrow. My flight is booked on a single ticket, but the first leg is operated by British Airways and the second by China Eastern, neither of which seem to have any online information pertaining to this. The transit time at Heathrow is only 4 hours and 25 minutes, while many other connections were only possible to book with 8-12 hours transit time (I'm beginning to see why). There are testing facilities at Heathrow that seem to be able to give results within 4 hours, but the UK rules doesn't seem to allow for two tests on the same day and my transit time would probably not be long enough to wait for both the test results and the "Green code" approval.

I am beginning to wonder if it is at all possible to fulfill the testing requirements with the itinerary I have booked (which makes me wonder why they would even sell me this ticket). I am wondering if anyone has experience transiting to China at Heathrow recently and how this worked out for them? Any other relevant information or suggestions would also be welcome.

  • 1
    I suspect the answer to why would they even sell me this ticket is that the airline leaves responsibility for complying with Covid rules to its passengers
    – Traveller
    Nov 8, 2022 at 20:57
  • Don't you have to have tests from two different labs? Nov 12, 2022 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


I am beginning to wonder if it is at all possible to fulfill the testing requirements with the itinerary I have booked (which makes me wonder why they would even sell me this ticket).

It is not guaranteed that you can fulfill the predeparture and entry requirements.

It is unfortunately your responsibility to ensure you are keeping up with the ever-changing requirements, and for China, requirements with strict policies that differ by consular districts. Yes, Chinese different consulates within the same country can require different things! For example, the consulate in Toronto requires two tests at two different test centres, while the consulate in Vancouver allows the testing at the same centre (and the consulate in Vancouver specified approved centres, while Toronto allows all provincially approved centres). And if you take the flight from Toronto to Vancouver then to China, it is the Toronto consulate's rules that apply. But in other countries, it may be the rules of the final point of departure towards China that count.

For predeparture requirements to China, although some consistency can be observed recently, every consulate can change everything about the requirements. For example, the hours or days required (some consulates count by calendar day, some by hours), whether nasopharyngeal swab is required, whether there are lists of permissible test centres, whether the testing reagents need to be on the report, how past infections are treated, special rules for connecting passengers etc.

The airlines, put simply, do not care about this. Even when most Chinese consulates (before summer 2022) prohibited connecting passengers from countries with direct flights available, the airlines are happy to sell you flights with connections in countries with direct flight to China. In their defence, they cannot predict the rules at the time of flight in the future.

If you book tickets from Chinese airlines or OTAs, there is usually a warning regarding the current (but not future) rules in effect.

For your specific case,

The transit time at Heathrow is only 4 hours and 25 minutes,

given the current political climate in China, I would say with almost certainty that this is not a possible itinerary if you are taking the flights within the next couple months (at least until after Chinese new year). There is even not enough time for the embassy or consulate to process your application before the gate closes.

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