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These 3 Major Airports Now Require Testing For Transit

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The tail end of 2020 has brought some of the most restrictive travel rules of the entire year, now even affecting the world’s busiest airports, making transiting increasingly difficult for travelers.

Many of the world’s top transit hubs have stayed relatively open for transiting passengers throughout the entire pandemic, especially to those who stay within the boarding area and do not have to clear customs.

However, starting on December 28th new transit rules affecting 3 of the largest airports in the world will further restrict transiting passengers.

airport transit

Important Update

Since publishing this article on December 27, 2020, both Turkey and Dubai have removed their test requirement for transits. 

Tests Now Required To Transit

Proof of a negative PCR test will now be required to transit through three of the busiest hub airports, including Turkey’s IST airport in Istanbul, the Netherland’s AMS airport in Amsterdam, and the UAE’s DXB airport in Dubai.

Throughout most of 2020, proof of negative tests was only required for those looking to actually enter the countries that required them, but now with increased caution due to case surges and new virus strains, nations are changing the rules to also include transit passengers.

Global Travel Gets Harder

Whether for leisure or necessity, millions of people are still traveling internationally, but with rules that restrict even transits, flying internationally just got exponentially harder.

With the availability of flights already at industry record lows, and many travelers only now fulfilling bookings made months ago, the new transit testing rules will leave many passengers stranded with no other options.

denied boarding from not having pCR test

Pre-flight PCR tests have been increasingly difficult to get due to high demand, which will leave many passengers with no way to get home from the holidays.

Passengers who were scheduled to transit through Istanbul, Amsterdam or Dubai must now present proof of their negative test before departure or be denied boarding, even if the booking was made before these rules came into effect.

airports now needing tests for transits

Istanbul Airport

Throughout the pandemic, Turkey’s borders remained wide-open for all nations to visit without testing or quarantines, which not only rebounded tourism but further secured Istanbul as one of the best airports to transit in.

As more and more countries started requiring proof of negative PCR tests, IST airport set up one of the world’s first testing hubs that allowed in-transit passengers to make a stop in Istanbul to perform the required test by the nation they were looking to visit. Thousands of passengers per day were making deliberate stops at IST in order to fulfill entry requirements for onward travel.

Now, Turkey’s requirement that all passengers require a test to transit through the country, effectively shuts down Istanbul’s pre-travel testing hub, leaving many international travelers with no other options.

Istanbul airport PCR tests on layover

Amsterdam Airport

As the Netherlands endures a lockdown that will last until at least mid-January, new restrictions at AMS airport are coming into effect.

Starting on December 29th all passengers heading to AMS, even those in transit, will need proof of a negative 72-hour PCR test, or will be denied boarding all together.

The negative PCR test must have been conducted no more than 72 hours before the passenger’s arrival in the Netherlands and includes people transiting by any means, including air, train, car, or ship.

AMS airport transit rules

Dubai Airport

Dubai’s new test requirements for transiting passengers currently only includes travelers from 50 specific nations, but if cases continue to rise, that could soon change. The UAE’s other major airports in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah require PCR testing for transits from all nations, signaling that Dubai may also be next.  

Currently, Dubai requires PCR testing for transiting passengers from a mixture of nations like the UK, Greece, Croatia, Tunisia, Ukraine, Morocco, Argentina, Cyprus, Egypt, Tanzania, Ukraine, Malta, Hungary, and 40 more countries.

Transiting passengers require to show proof of a negative PCR test taken no longer than 96 hours before the departing flight into Dubai, with the exception of the UK who only has a 72-hour window.

dubai airport mask

With AMS, DXB, and IST restricting transits, much of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East will experience a huge disruption in connectivity as these three airports all served as primary transportation hubs.

Read More: 7 countries that are still allowing tourists without testing, the best companies offering travel insurance that covers covid, and a full list of countries that are open for tourism. 

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories

Article originally published December 27, 2020


Wednesday 1st of September 2021

Can't go forward or backward


Wednesday 1st of September 2021

I need to transit in less time that a pcr test takes. I was already pulled the flight from Barcelona to Gambia after travelling first from London to Barcelona. I was even pulled off the flight coming back to London.


Monday 4th of January 2021

I did a transit in CDG Paris yesterday from Barcelona , nobody asked me for my pcr test. I was expecting someone to ask but nobody did ask

But on the way to Barcelona from CDG Paris I was asked for my pcr test before boarding the plane in Paris toward Barcelona


Sunday 10th of January 2021

Leon, how did you even enter into Spain since it is supposedly closed to ALL Canadians and most other non-EU citizens?? That's some shady and risky business right there!


Monday 4th of January 2021

We just transited through Istanbul and do not need a PCR test.

Kashlee Kucheran

Monday 4th of January 2021

Yes thank you for your on the ground updates :) At the time of this news article, a test was needed to transit but has now since been removed.


Monday 4th of January 2021

The information in this article is incorrect. You can transit through Istanbul and Dubai airports without a PCR test. Many has done it in the last couple of days

Kashlee Kucheran

Monday 4th of January 2021

Hi Chris - This news article was published in December, and at that time, tests were needed for both.