Covid-19 PCR Drive Through Test Experience


When I have written about my most recent travel to the UK and around Europe, some readers commented if there were quarantine or Covid-19 test requirements in place that would have affected me.

UK didn’t require any quarantine (this is mandatory in the UK from many countries) if coming from Japan, and there were none required in Italy, Switzerland, and Spain either.

However, Finland strongly encourages but doesn’t mandate citizens and permanent residents to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival from most countries that is shortened to ten days from Monday.

There is currently no testing requirement, but plans are in place, at the EU level, to allow more travel within the Schengen with either a negative test upon departure or arrival. We probably learn more about these sometime later this month.

All arrival passengers at the Helsinki – Vantaa can get a complimentary test, and dogs even conduct some.

Testing in Oulu (Finland)

There are complimentary tests available in Oulu for those living in the area. You do need a referral and likely exposed to an infected person or have symptoms to get one. Tests are available through private providers, too, that are costly.

I took a cab to the test site that was close to the city center.

I had to call a nurse who evaluated my need for the test, who then processed the referral due to the countries I had been in the previous 14 days. As I didn’t have any symptoms, the much faster (perhaps six-hour turnaround) antigen test was ruled out, and the PCR test was chosen.

There were only three cars in front of us, and the process appeared to be moving swiftly.

Then it was my turn.

They can do the swiping from your throat or nose. Mine was the nasal one. It felt a bit uncomfortable, but it was over what must have been 10 or so seconds.

The promised turnaround for the PCR test was 1 to 3 days. The results were available on the app almost 48 hours after the test was done (I am not sure where the laboratory is where these samples are processed and analyzed).

This test site does 10 to 100 tests each weekday that it is open based on the employees.


I know that many of our readers have been tested before due to potential exposure, possible symptoms, or prerequisite to travel either by the airline before departure, at the transit point, or the destination.

Unfortunately, my transit at the Helsinki – Vantaa was too short for the complimentary test, and I would have loved to experience the much-featured corona sniffing dogs.

In retrospect, I should have done an overnight transit in Helsinki (Hilton and Scandic are within walking distance from the terminal).

I decided to pay the test mostly from my own pocket (250 or so euros with the referral – partially subsidized by the government).