Pre-departure testing: Important update during current health response

Information contained in this update is accurate as of 23 August 2021

During the current public health emergency Southern Community Labs (SCL) are processing high-volumes of COVID-19 tests. We cannot guarantee pre-departure test results for travellers in less than 72 hours from time of collection. It is important that all patients presenting for this test are advised of this by the referrer.

Results within 24 hours are not possible at this time, and we are unable to process urgent requests for this test.

To reduce the turnaround time for the test result the patient can bring the sample direct to the laboratory (not a collection centre) (or deliver by taxi).  To facilitate rapid identification write ‘Traveller COVID swab’ on the outside of the biohazard bag.

We ask that anyone delivering samples to the laboratory do not ask our staff for information regarding the time the result will be available.  Staff do not have access to this information, and these conversations take up valuable work time in the current emergency.

Results are reported as soon as they are available, so please do not phone the laboratory to expedite your result.

Covid-19 Pre-departure testing process for travellers

SCL continues to receive a high volume of enquiries regarding pre-departure testing for travellers. To assist with frequently asked questions please note the 4 step process for pre-departure testing as follows:

Step 1: Consider the appropriate time to have your sample collected

  • Sample should be collected as early as possible within the required pre-departure / pre-arrival timeframe (as defined by the destination country).
  • Allow up to 72 hours from sample collection to when the result is required. Results are often available sooner, however a faster time to result cannot be guaranteed.
  • This is the only testing service available, it is not possible to request or pay an additional fee to guarantee a quicker turnaround time.

Step 2Contact your local medical practice/GP or after hours centre to have your sample collected

  • You do not need to be a registered patient.
  • The medical practice will collect payment at the time you have the sample collected.
  • SCL does not perform the swab collection.

Step 3Sample delivery from medical practice/GP to laboratory

  • Standard practice is that your sample will be picked-up by a routine SCL courier.
  • If you wish to shorten the turnaround time for the test result the sample can be delivered directly to the laboratory by taxi or the traveller themselves. To facilitate rapid identification write ‘Traveller COVID swab’ on the outside of the biohazard bag.
  • Please ensure delivery is to a laboratory and not a collection centre.
  • If you are coming to our lab please remember to wear a mask at our facility and scan in.

Step 4Results will be sent to the medical practice/GP within 72 hours of the sample collection

  • Results are reported as soon as they are available so please do not phone the laboratory to expedite your result.
  • Our staff our currently incredibly busy, so do not come to the laboratory to request your result.
  • SCL provides the result to the referrer. 
  • Individuals requiring their results for travel or any other purpose must contact their referrer. 
  • Examples of the COVID-19 test reports are available on this page of our website.

Refunds and retests

  • If your sample is collected in less than 72 hours from needing your result, and you miss your flight, no refunds will be provided. You must allow up to 72 hours from sample collection to when the result is required.
  • If your sample is collected with at least 72 hours before needing your result, and you do not receive your results in time and miss your flight, SCL will provide a full refund for your test, and will process a subsequent test free of charge. No further compensation is provided.