If you are planning to come to the UK to stay for over six months and are a resident of one of a number of countries specified by the British Government, you will need to have a tuberculosis (TB) test before you are allowed to enter the country.
The purpose of screening for TB is to detect the presence of lung TB and prevent transmission to others when travelling, while also helping with early detection and treatment where the traveller is unaware of their condition.
After you have been screened for TB, if the tests are clear, you will be issued a TB clearance certificate. The certificate confirms you are free of lung TB and is a mandatory requirement before you can apply for a visa to enter the UK.
Countries where you need a TB test to enter the UK
Pre-entry screening is compulsory for those people who wish to come into the UK and stay for over six months if they are a national of one of the following countries, as listed on the .gov website (as at November 2021). Screening is not required if you are coming to the UK as a tourist.
Benin (get tested in Nigeria)
Burkina Faso (get tested in Ghana)
Cape Verde (get tested in Gambia or Senegal)
Central African Republic (get tested in Cameroon)
Chad (get tested in Cameroon)
Congo (get tested in Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Djibouti (get tested in Ethiopia)
East Timor (get tested in Indonesia)
Equatorial Guinea (get tested in Ghana)
Eritrea (get tested in Kenya)
Gabon (get tested in Cameroon)
Guinea (get tested in Sierra Leone)
Guinea Bissau (get tested in Gambia or Senegal)
Kiribati (get tested in Fiji)
Kyrgyzstan (get tested in Kazakhstan)
Lesotho (get tested in South Africa)
Liberia (get tested in Ghana)
Macau (get tested in Hong Kong)
Mali (get tested in Gambia or Senegal)
Marshall Islands (get tested in Fiji)
Mauritania (get tested in Morocco)
Micronesia (get tested in Fiji)
Niger (get tested in Ghana)
Palau (get tested in Philippines)
Papua New Guinea
São Tomé and Principe (get tested in Angola)
Solomon Islands (get tested in Papua New Guinea)
Somalia (get tested in Kenya)
South Sudan (get tested in Kenya)
Suriname (get tested in Guyana)
Swaziland (get tested in South Africa)
Togo (get tested in Ghana)
Tuvalu (get tested in Fiji)
Vanuatu (get tested in Fiji)
Do all UK visa applicants need to be tested for TB?
If you are planning to come from a country where TB is common and are applying for a long-term visa, then you must be screened. There are specific screening rules that apply to children under the age of eleven and pregnant women.
Where the screening takes place
The test is taken at your own convenience in your country of residence. It is not done on arrival in the UK. You will need to make an appointment to be screened at a designated and UK government approved clinic in your home country. This is done on behalf of the UK Immigration Authority. You can find a list of approved clinics on the gov.uk website.
Things you will need to take to the appointment
You will need to take two official documents proving your identity, one of which must be your passport. Besides this requirement, you will also need two recent passport sized photographs, payment for your TB screening test, and your medical records. If you have previously had a TB test, you should provide details of the previous results, diagnosis, and any treatment you may have received.
How much does a TB test UK cost?
The clinic fee varies from country to country and covers the consultation, chest X-ray, and the TB clearance certificate. If further tests, such as sputum tests, are thought to be necessary by your doctor, additional costs may be incurred. The clinic fees for the TB test are in addition to the cost of your visa application to the UK Home Office.
What is the TB test procedure?
Although almost all cases of TB can be treated and cured, delays in diagnosis and other factors mean it remains a serious condition. TB can affect any part of someone’s body, but the risk of transmission only happens when the active disease is in the lungs. This means that pre-entry screening only covers active TB in the lungs. This is a type of TB affecting the lungs and can be difficult to diagnose. You may have a chest X-ray to look for changes in the appearance of your lungs that may suggest TB. Samples of phlegm are also often taken and checked for the presence of TB bacteria.
Before screening begins, you will be required to complete the Informed Consent Form at the clinic. The doctor will then ask you about any current health complaints, worries or symptoms you may have, previous illnesses (including TB) and treatment, and whether you have had a friend or relative with TB. If the doctor considers it appropriate they may carry out a physical examination.
You will be given a chest X-ray that can identify any changes in your lungs, which may indicate lung TB. Your results are generally ready to be collected within 24 hours. If your doctor does not think you have TB (following consultation and chest X-ray), they will issue you with a TB certificate.
If your chest X-ray shows areas of concern, or if the test results are inconclusive, your doctor will ask you to provide three samples of sputum (phlegm coughed up from the lungs). This is done in the clinic on three consecutive mornings, so you should be prepared to attend the clinic. The samples you provide will then be analysed under a microscope. Sometimes the TB bacteria can be seen with a special stain process. However, more often the TB bacteria will grow in a culture of the sample you have provided, therefore all samples will be cultured. It is important to note that in these cases, the final diagnosis can take around two months to get.
Are there any exemptions to taking a TB test UK?
There are certain circumstances where you do not have to undergo TB screening. You will not need to take a TB test UK if you are a diplomat accredited to the UK, you are a UK resident returning to the UK providing you have not been away for over two years, or you lived in a country for at least six months where TB screening is not required by the UK and you have not been away from that country for over six months.
Can a whole family be screened together?
If you are intending to come to the UK with your family, the clinic should allow screening of all your family members on the same day.
Children and pregnant women
All children who are coming to the UK and applying for a visa from a listed country are required to show they are free of TB and will need to see a doctor to confirm this.
Children under the age of eleven will not usually be required to have a chest X-ray, however, the child must be taken to an approved clinic to complete a health questionnaire. If the doctor decides your child does not have TB, they will give you a certificate which you should include within your child’s UK visa application.
Pregnant women can request a chest X-ray with an extra shield to protect them and their unborn child in the second and third trimesters or take a sputum test instead. If they decide to take the sputum test, there may be an additional fee and they could have to wait up to eight weeks for the results. Alternatively, they can wait until after the child is born and take the chest X-ray then.
How long is a TB certificate valid for?
A TB clearance certificate is valid for six months from the date it is issued. After you have entered the UK, health authorities may contact you to offer a further screening test for inactive – or latent – TB. This is in addition to the pre-entry screening you had in your home country and is to prevent reactivation of this type of TB.
Testing for latent TB
Latent TB is where someone has been infected with TB, but they do not display any symptoms. For example, if you have been in close contact with someone who is known to have active TB, you may need to have a test or if you have recently spent time or live in a country where TB levels are high.
The Mantoux test is commonly used to test for latent TB. It involves injecting a tiny amount of PPD tuberculin into the skin of your forearm. This may also be called the tuberculin skin test (TST). If you have a latent TB infection, your skin will have a sensitivity to the PPD substance and a small red bump will develop at the injection site, typically around 48 to 72 hours after having the test.
If your skin has a particularly powerful reaction, you may need to go on to have a chest X-ray to confirm if you have active TB. If your skin does not react to the test, you do not have latent TB infection. Although if you have previously received a BCG vaccination, you could have a mild skin reaction to the test, but this does not necessarily mean you have latent TB.
There is a new blood test for TB that is becoming more widely available and is called the interferon gamma release assay (IGRA). The IGRA may be used to help diagnose latent TB if:
- You have had a positive Mantoux test
- You previously had a BCG vaccination – as discussed above, the Mantoux test may not be reliable in such cases
- You have recently moved to the UK from a country where TB is common
- As part of a health check when you register with a GP in the UK
- You are going to have treatment that will suppress your immune system (immunosuppressant treatment)
- If you have come to the UK to be a healthcare worker
How will testing positive for TB affect my visa application?
If you test positive for TB, you will be referred straightaway by your doctor for antibiotic treatment. Although you will not be issued with a clearance certificate, you can reapply following successful completion of your treatment. Your doctor will report your diagnosis of lung TB to your local, regional or national authorities following the requirements of your country. Your doctor will also report your diagnosis to the UK health authorities.
After completing your treatment (generally after six months), you are eligible for re-screening. This will incur an additional fee. Prior to applying for your UK visa, you will need a screening clearance certificate from an approved clinic, confirming you are now free of lung TB.
If you no longer have TB, the certificate will be issued and you can then include it within your visa application. A previous diagnosis of TB will not have any adverse effect on the visa process if you are subsequently certified free of TB.
DavidsonMorris’ immigration lawyers advise on all aspects of UK visa applications, including entry requirements such as TB testing. For specialist advice, contact us.
TB test for the UK FAQs
How do you get a TB test UK?
You should contact your closest approved clinic directly and book an appointment for a TB screening test; making it clear that you require the test for a UK visa application. You can find your nearest clinic by checking on the gov.uk website.
Can I do TB test in UK?
No. You will need to take the test in your home country before applying for a UK visa to enter the UK. You cannot take the test in the UK.
How much does a TB test cost UK?
The costs of testing varies from country to country and includes the consultation, the screening test, and certificate of clearance. Other tests, such as sputum tests, may be required, which will incur additional costs.
Do I need a TB test every year?
Further testing is not required, providing you have lived at least six months in a country where TB screening is not required by the UK, and you have been away from that country for no more than six months.
Last updated: 2 November 2021