COVID-19 Testing in Hargeisa, Somaliland (PCR for Travel)

Travelling from Hargeisa to the US, I’ve had to get a COVID test done (PCR, within 1 day of the flight, according to the US guidelines). I thought I’d share the process/logistics, for those planning a trip.

COVID-19 testing in Hargeisa is available at the Hargeisa Group Hospital, in the city center. There are no rapid tests available, just PCR.

Entering the hospital complex, there’s a one-way flow of vehicle traffic (in one gate and out the other). Follow the vehicle traffic all the way to the end, right before the exit gate, and the COVID testing will be on the right hand side. It’s not really marked or signed, but you’ll see the lines of people.

COVID testing in Hargeisa operates from 6:30am to 12pm every day (except for Fridays), although it’s recommended that you arrive earlier rather than later. When I went, I got there for my test at about 9am, and waited for about 15 minutes. There are no appointments, you just show up. There is a queue to the right of the door, up to a window where you pay for the test. It’s 45 USD (or shilling equivalent) and they accept either cash or Zaad. You’ll need to show your passport if you’re getting a test for travel. Once you pay, they’ll give you a receipt, and you’ll be taken inside for the test. The PCR test itself takes all of 30 seconds, and then you’re done!

The results are available the next morning, as standard procedure. If you need a rush test, you can try and ask for one, but if you can manage to arrange your travels so that you can come back the next morning, it’s ideal. As of now (December 30, 2021), flights to the US require a COVID test from the day before you flight (not necessarily 24 hours). So, the ideal schedule (which worked for me) was morning COVID-19 test on “Day 1,” get the results the morning of “Day 2,” and then fly out to Ethiopia on the evening of “Day 2.” Keep in mind that they’re closed on Fridays, so be careful when booking your ticket (you don’t want to book a ticket for Saturday, for example, and then find yourself out of luck without a test on Friday). If you’re travelling somewhere with a 2-3 day window (ie. NOT the US), then anticipate getting your test 2 days before your flight (day 1 = test, day 2 = results, day 3 = flight).

The hours for getting PCR results are the same as the tests — 6:30am to 12pm, every day (except for Fridays). The window to the right of the door is the results window. You’ll present your receipt from the previous day, and they’ll print out a paper with your results, which has your name, birthday, passport number, and test results. The results page specifies that it’s a PCR test, and includes a QR code to verify your results. Once you’ve got your paper, you’re all set!

The whole process is very well set-up and quite efficient, and all the lines and waiting spaces are outside. Social distancing, however, isn’t strictly followed due to space, so remember to wear a mask (although they’re not required, I saw about half-half wearing and not wearing masks). If you forget a mask and would like one, there are plenty of entrepreneurial people around who would be quite happy to sell you one.

Happy travelling, and stay healthy!

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