Navigating the TCI Assured Process... Our experience travelling back to Turks and Caicos
Updated: May 5
As many of you know, we have recently travelled back to Turks and Caicos for the first time in over two years… The longest we’ve ever been away from Our Happy Place....thanks for that Covid…..
Since then, we have been asked about our experience while travelling during the pandemic and more specifically, how to navigate the authorization process required for entry into Turks and Caicos. We hope this post will alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you may be feeling before travelling.
If you’re considering travel to Turks and Caicos then you’re already aware of the specific entry requirements needed for your trip. From what we’ve read on social media sites and questions we’ve received privately, it appears some are a little apprehensive about the process, and understandably so. It’s definitely not how we’re used to travelling. But, we have to do what we have to do for now, and we can assure you it is absolutely worth it.
The Turks and Caicos Islands have gone to great lengths to open their Country safely and effectively. With tourism being the main industry driving the economy of The Islands, they absolutely want you to be there, but they also want to keep their residents and you as protected as possible. The few extra steps are a small price to pay for being able to travel again. And if you ask us, we definitely feel more comfortable getting on a plane knowing everyone around us has tested negative within the days leading up to the flights.
First off, we must start by saying, we are not the official Turks and Caicos Travel Authorization site. PLEASE refer to the TCI TOURISM site for specific details.
Second off…? We are not here to entertain any debates on vaccinations….Not our bag, you do you, we love you all, we really do! We are simply here to share our experience and how we managed the process for entry.
So let’s get to it and get you on your way to Turks and Caicos!
THE BASICS - There’s four requirements for entry to The Turks and Caicos Islands.
Negative Covid Test no more than three days before your date of arrival
Proof of vaccination
Covid health insurance
Approval from Travel Authorization site
Negative Covid Test no more than three days before arrival
The accepted test types are as follows:
A Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction Test (RT-PCR)
A Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAA)
An RNA or molecular test
An Antigen Test completed via nasopharyngeal swab (nasal swab)
If the word “antibody” appears anywhere in the test name, or it is revealed that the test performed is an antibody test when reviewing the disclaimer or notes, this will be rejected.
Once we received our print out with the negative test result, we made three copies of the document. We also kept screen shots on our phones if needed as back up.
Proof of vaccination
QR code with your vaccination information or vaccination cards if QR code is not available in your health region.
We printed three copies of our original vaccination cards and three copies of our QR vaccination record which we attained through our provincial health care providers. We also kept screen shots on our phones if needed as back up.
Covid health insurance
Suggested providers as per TCI Authorization:
HTH World Wide
Allianz Global Assistance
Travel Insured International
Apex Travel Ltd.
We chose Trawick Insurance and printed one full copy of each of our policies. We also took a screen shot of the cover page outlining general details to keep on our phones if needed. More about Trawick further down.
Why did we make three copies of our documents?
We were travelling from Calgary - Toronto - Providenciales and were unsure if we were required to hand in our documents at all check in/security points before arrival or not. We thought it better to be safe than sorry after doing all the work. It actually turned out to be better to have all our photocopies on hand as it was more efficient for showing our documents than scrolling through our phones. This was most apparent when we arrived in Providenciales and had to show our Authorization Approval Forms. Much quicker for TCI Authorities to verify your printed sheet than waiting for people to scramble for their phones, unlock them and scroll to find their authorization amidst all the other documents saved.
So! That’s the requirements out of the way, let's carry on.
When we realized we were heading back to the Island, you can only imagine how excited we were! The sheer joy of bringing out the suitcases again was enough to send us over the edge! We’d been away from our turquoise water for far too long! We couldn’t believe we were heading back to paradise, and on top of that, over Christmas and New Years. Hellooooo 2022!!!
That excitement was quickly overtaken by a little anxiety as we’d heard the horror stories from others on social media. Confusion, delays, testing arrrghh! All of it was somewhat overwhelming to be honest, not in that it was difficult, but more so in worrying you’ve done everything correctly to gain approval.
Plan of attack? We headed straight to the source, https://travelauthorisation.turksandcaicostourism.com/public/
It’s vital that you read all the information provided on the site and TRY not to overthink the process and just follow the steps.
Which Travel Insurance did we use?
Because we were still a few weeks out from travel, our first task was to find Covid Health Insurance. At first we researched options within our own health insurance policies. Unfortunately, this wasn’t an option for us as they didn’t specifically outline any Covid coverage for evacuation or emergency accommodation funding. We then referred back to the Travel Portal for the list of approved insurance providers.
We ended up going with Trawick insurance as suggested by our friends who were travelling the week before us. We chose the “Safe Travels International Policy” for two travellers and it cost us $78USD total. This plan treated Covid as any other sickness and stated so in their policy details. This also covered us for up to $2,000,000.00 in emergency medical evacuation transportation. The full list of benefits can be seen when you follow these few steps:
Head to www.trawickinternational.com to get your quote and see further details.
Fill in the information asked:
On the next screen you’ll be asked for:
Trip Protection? We chose “no” to this one as we had trip insurance when we booked our flights
Now you’re taken to the screen that lists your options. You can toggle between coverage amounts and deductible amounts etc. We chose the basic, $50,000 coverage with a $250.00 deductible. As you scroll though the overview of your choices, you’ll see “Emergency Medical Evacuation” listed that specifically states “due to COVID-19.” This is where we chose the Safe Travels International Policy for $78.00USD.
This was so simple and fast to do. We were emailed our receipt and proof of policy cover page immediately. On that same email was the link to download your full policy. We downloaded the fully detailed policy and printed both copies (one with each of our names on it).
*Please note, we have no affiliation with Trawick Insurance, we don’t receive any commissions from Trawick Insurance. We’re simply being as transparent as possible to help you out when accessing the travel portal.
Next up was figuring out when to take our Covid Test
We were arriving on a Sunday afternoon and decided to get our tests done on Thursday. Now, our question at this point was, were we safe to have the test done within three days of departing for Turks or three days of arriving in Turks? We questioned this because our travel started on Saturday and ended on Sunday, approximately 12 hours of travel. As you can imagine, if you’ve been on any of the TCI group pages on The Book of Faces…we received aaaaallll kinds of input for this one. So, we chose to put on our common sense hats, better to be safe than sorry, and booked our tests within three days of arrival.
* You'll notice at the top, the requirements do state "no more than three days before date of arrival". However, with so much chatter and confusion on Social Media sites, we really were unsure. That's why it's important to always refer back to the main site for accurate reference. Had we done that in the beginning, we wouldn't have had to waste time figuring it out....
At this point, we had all bases covered. Insurance purchased, Vaccination records printed, Covid Tests books.
For the week prior to testing we literally hid from everyone we knew! Even though we had been so cautious for two years already, we still worried about the possibility of receiving a positive test result.
We were taking ZERO chances, those tests needed to come back negative, we were getting on a plane!
Off we went to Shoppers Drug Mart (Canadian version of CVS etc), paid our $40, got swabbed then paced the store for 15 minutes.
Longest 15 minutes of our liiiiiiiives!
When the pharmacist came out smiling with our paperwork and negative results I personally could have hugged her! I did a happy dance and cheered and Byron just stood laughing at me, as he usually does LOL! It truly was the best feeling to get that result and know that we were one step closer to Turks and Caicos. The moment was made even sweeter as we stepped outside the Drug Store and literally, a blizzard had started! Not kidding!
Now to tackle the authorization
We headed straight home to attack the TCI Assured site. After scanning our negative Covid tests into the computer it was time to start uploading all our documents. We should point out here that you can’t start the process without having all your documents ready to upload. You won’t be able to start the process and come back in to finish it later, it’s just not set up that way. And personally, I think that’s where half the anxiety with regards to the process comes from. It would be less stressful if you had a visual “how to” with exactly all that’s required.
Pro tip: A piece of advice given to us by our friends was to PDF all our documents before trying to load them. This worked for us without a hitch. We’ve heard some people having troubles with jpegs etc, so maybe try reformatting as a PDF.
On the site itself, we entered our email address to receive our OTP code. We waited maybe 10 minutes for our code to come through. I know most of us expect it immediately, but I think with the sheer volume of people using the site, it just takes a little longer. So be patient, it will come through.
Once on the site, all the usual basic travel information is requested.
Date of arrival
Where you’re arriving from
Are you travelling with anyone else?: If you’re travelling with your family, a partner, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a friend, YES. If you’re travelling with a group of couples/families, best that each family submits their own authorization. Submit the names of those travelling in your immediate party.
Once you’ve filled out all your basic personal and travel information, you’ll then be asked to upload your specific documents. You won’t be able to move on to the next page if your documents haven’t loaded correctly. If you are able to select “submit” or “continue”, know that you have done it all correctly. Some uploads take longer than others, that’s fine, it’s a busy site and to be expected.
We chose to upload our FULL download of insurance, not just the cover page we received via email, but the full downloadable link supplied in our email receipt. We felt there would be less question or room for error if the authorization team had our entire policy to review. We didn’t want to waste time or add extra stress by thinking we hadn’t submitted enough information. This full document took a little longer to upload than the negative test and the vaccination records, simply because it was much larger.
IF you haven’t supplied enough information as required by the authorities, fear not, they will email you requesting further information. Be sure to open and read any and all emails you receive from the site.
Once everything is submitted and you’ve navigated through the process for yourself, you'll get to the end and it asks something along the lines of:
“Submit authorization for another traveller?”
CLICK YES! If you listed names of other members travelling with you in your authorization, this is now where you repeat the process for every single person travelling in your group. You can’t just submit their names on your initial request, you must then fill in and complete the entire process for each person. Yes, it’s tedious, but at this stage, you’ve done it for yourself, you’re familiar with the site and the next time through will be much easier. YAY!
Now you wait……..hello stress levels!
As we learned, wait times vary. We submitted on Thursday night and didn’t get approved till Saturday mid morning. On Friday night I was getting really anxious. It had been over 24 hours since submitting and nothing. It was also nearing the 24 hour mark before we were leaving. I sent an “URGENT” subject email to the authorization site and received the standard auto reply. Wasn’t expecting a personal reply, I knew how busy they were, but felt better having sent it. Early Saturday morning, still nothing. Then I received a second email response from an agent who assured me our approval would be there shortly. Oh the relief!! And sure enough, by around 11 am, our approval emails came through! TIME TO CELEBRATE!
We printed our “You’re approved” documents from our emails and added them to the folder with all our other documents.
Next, we made sure we had all documents within easy reach in our hand luggage, checked and rechecked we had everything and headed to the airport at long, long last…….
We hope by sharing our experience with this process, it will help one or two people out along the way. Are we experts? No, not claiming to be, just sharing what worked for us.
We do want to give a massive shout out to ALL the people working behind the scenes to get us approved and to The Island safely. I can’t even begin to imagine their stress levels dealing with all of us anxious travellers.
So, THANK YOU TCI ASSURED STAFF, for doing what you’re doing!
We’ll see you again real soon! Till then, Cheers Beaches!!
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