Heathrow Airport Covid testing: changes made to travel testing, and what tests are required upon landing at Heathrow

England has now ditched the requirement for ‘pre-departure’ tests for inbound international travellers - so what are the new rules?

Heathrow Airport PCR test on arrival: how to book an on-site PCR test

As of 4am on January 7 2022, fully vaccinated travellers arriving at Heathrow Airport (and all major English airports) are permitted to enter the UK without producing a negative ‘pre-departure’ PCR or Lateral Flow Test.

Travellers will, however, have to submit a ‘day-2 test’ - that is to say, a test taken within 48 hours of their arrival in the UK. While previously this had to be a PCR test (which is analysed in a lab), now the less expensive rapid antigen Lateral Flow Test (LFT) is permissible.

Travellers no longer need to quarantine until they receive the result of their day 2 test - however, if their LFT test is positive they will then be required to take a PCR test - this is so the Covid variants entering via the border can be monitored.

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How do you get a day-two Covid test?

Recommendations state that the test must be taken before the end of the second day of arrival, many are opting for taking the test at the airport, as soon as they step off the plane.

Heathrow Airport has multiple testing sites.

ExpressTest centres are operated by the UK Government’s Department of Health and Social Care. They offer test results accepted in most countries of travel (be sure to check your intended destination)

At Heathrow Airport, their walk-through services are available in the arrivals lounge of terminals two and five.

The sites are open from 7am to 8pm - if you wish to test on arrival, your flight will need to land between these times.

You must book your test in advance - you can do this by by visiting the ExpressTest Heathrow booking site.

What Covid tests are available at the Heathrow ExpressTest centre?

Heathrow Airport is one of the UK Government testing sites offering walk-through and drive-through testing for PCR and lateral flow tests.

Heathrow Airport’s ExpressTest centre offers a variety of different Covid tests according to your needs – with tests available for NHS as well as the general public and travellers seeking Fit to Fly certification.

Those seeking lateral flow tests for a valid travel certificate are warned to check which countries are accepting these as a form of safe entry, as not all countries accept lateral flow tests as proof of not having Covid.

The latest Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office travel guidance provides up to date travel information on entry requirements for a range of countries, as well as their travel list status on the UK traffic light travel system.

How do I book into the Express Covid test at Heathrow Airport?

Tests carried out at the Express Covid Test Centre at Heathrow Airport can only be accessed by advance bookings.

Those wishing to attend the walk-through testing site at the Express Test centre at Heathrow can book these at: https://www.expresstest.co.uk/london-heathrow-airport/

Here you can select whether you require a test for a Fit to Fly certificate or a regular coronavirus test, and can choose a suitable date and time for screening.

Does the on-site Covid test occur before or after security?

The testing is done after you pass through security and immigration, so factor that into your timings when booking.

How much do the Airport Express tests cost?

There are different costs for Covid-19 tests at the Heathrow ExpressTest centre depending on which type of coronavirus test you need, whether you are requiring a test for a Fit to Fly certificate and whether you attend walk-through or drive-through testing.

PCR tests at Heathrow Airport cost £99 per person for the general public, £69 per person for flight passengers.

The results of PCR tests, considered to be more reliable than lateral flow tests, in determining whether someone has Covid-19, should be supplied by 10pm on the following day, but ExpressTest warn that these could take up to 48 hours to receive.

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