How to travel to Buenos Aires during COVID, in 11 easy steps

Yep, really. Once you’ve booked your flight and accommodation, there are 11 further steps before you are ready to leave – most of which need to be done in the final 48 hours before you fly.

This guide is for UK passport holders travelling from the UK, and assumes you’ve had all three shots (you can’t visit Argentina if that’s not the case) …

The guide also assumes you’re flying BA as nobody else flies direct (ok, they actually fly via Sao Paolo, but that’s just a brief stop and you stay on the plane). If you’re flying on Iberia via Madrid, or any other permutation, you’re on your own …

Ahead of time

1. Download the Verifly app

BA recommends the Verifly app to confirm that you’ve assembled all the necessary digital paperwork.

It’s a crap app (more on this later), but if it works it does provide reassurance that you’ve met all the requirements before you set off for the airport – and you also can’t do online check-in without it.

2. Buy a COVID test

You can buy this whenever you like, so you have it for when it’s needed. We bought this one, which was £20. You’ll get an email with your activation number – make sure you save this email, as you’ll need both the link and the activation number in order to take the test.

Don’t open the test kit yet.

3. Buy travel insurance with COVID cover

If you already have an annual policy, just check that it includes full COVID cover (for in-country treatment, at least), as you can’t enter Argentina without this.

In the Verifly app, enter your details and flight details, then tap on the travel insurance option. This is the only simple checklist item, as it only requires you to swear on Pugliese’s grave that you have insurance – you don’t need to upload anything to prove it.

Within 48 hours of travel

The remaining steps can only be taken once you are within 48 hours of the scheduled departure time for your flight. I recommend doing them as soon as you are within this window, as there are several points at which you can experience delays.

4. Take your COVID test

Helpfully, the video instructions provided for this by our test company were wrong … They show the more involved procedure for a US test. The actual process is:

  • Take the test and wait for the (hopefully!) negative result
  • Take a photo of the test cartridge showing the result
  • Take a photo of the photo page of your passport
  • Click the link in the email
  • Enter your details, including your test activation number
    (you did keep that email, right?)
  • Upload the photos when prompted

5. Wait for your COVID test certificate

The company we used promises a 15-minute turnaround 24/7. I took the test at 9.30am and got the certificate back in less than five minutes.

Take a screengrab/photo of this as you may need it in the next step.

6. Register the certificate in the Verifly app

In theory, you do this by scanning the QR code. In my case, the app didn’t recognise it, and from app reviews, this is true for lots of people.

In practice, then, I had to select the manual upload option and attach a screengrab of it. (You can’t directly upload the certificate because it’s a PDF and the app only recognises JPG and PNG files …)

The good news was that manual verification was very quick – within about five minutes.

7. Get your latest COVID travel pass

Within the NHS app, select the COVID pass option and then choose the International/Travel one (not the Domestic one). This will then provide three certificates – one each for shot 1, shot 2 and booster. If you’ve recently had COVID, you may also get a recovery certificate (which you won’t need). I recommend taking screen grabs and adding them to Apple Wallet if you use an iPhone.

8. Add your vaccination certificates to the Verifly app

Again, the theory is that you just scan the QR codes for each of your vaccination certificates; in practice, this doesn’t appear to work for anyone. So the reality is you select the manual upload option and send all three screengrabs.

Wait for these to be approved, which in my case took only 5-10 minutes.

9. Apply for Travel Authorisation from Argentina

You need a government-issued Travel Authorisation certificate to enter Argentina. This confirms that you are fully-vaccinated, have a negative test (within 48 hours of travel) and have travel insurance with COVID cover. It also requires your local address, so you need to have booked your accommodation.

You’ll find the online application form here, and you can select English at the top right of the form.

Brace yourself! This form was clearly designed by someone whose day job is creating cryptic crosswords …

The overview of the process is: complete part one, wait for an email, click the link, complete part two, wait for a second email with your certificate attached as a PDF. The detail is a bit more … detailed.

There are three different places at which you will be required to declare your nationality or country of origin for the trip. There are dropdowns for this. You will need to look for a different wording in each one! Reino Unido is the United Kingdom. Britanica is British. And when you give your phone number, you need to select United Kingdom. Oh, and one of the three dropdowns isn’t quite in alphabetic order – keep scrolling!

There’s another cryptic element. You may think you are staying in the city of Buenos Aires, but oh no – your official city is the district. And Capital Federal doesn’t appear to be listed, so we selected the next nearest one, which is Florida. You’ll need to use Google Maps to identify your district. Also, Google the postcode of your address if you don’t already have it.

Once you’ve completed part one, it will seemingly want you to repeat the step. This is because it doesn’t bother telling you to wait for the email and then continue. So … wait for the email, click the link, then complete part two.

10. Register your Travel Authorisation in Verifly

Wait for the email with your certificate – again, this just took a few minutes for me.

It will arrive as a PDF. Again, take a photo or screengrab of it because, yep, the Verifly app still hasn’t heard of PDFs.

Tap on the Travel Authorisation link and upload the screengrab/photo. Wait for this to be accepted.

At this point, you should have four green checkmarks in the app. Complete the ‘Before you leave’ checklist to get the final one.

11. Do online check-in

Note that you can only use online check-in if you’ve used the Verifly app and got all your checkmarks; otherwise it will show as Unavailable and you’ll need to check-in at the airport, showing them all your various documents.

Checking in online is the final assurance that all your paperwork has been accepted.

Relax!

You are now ready to travel! One piece of good news about the pandemic: BA finally got rid of its Wright Brothers-era 747s, so you now get to fly on an actual modern airliner, in our case a shiny new A350. (Complete with the new design mini-cabin Club World seats which, sadly, we only got to look at.)

If it’s your first trip to BsAs, I highly recommend downloading the Azimo app. Cash machine use by foreign cards has a very high fee (£8 a go, in 2019!), and you get a terrible exchange rate. Azimo is like Western Union – you use it to send cash to a local office for collection. You get a massively better exchange rate. Use this affiliate link and one of us gets a fiver and the other one a tenner – I can’t remember which.

Oh, and beware the taxis when you land. There are fixed fares from the airport, so save a screengrab of these on your phone in case of argument.

Ok, now you can relax.

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