Free PCR tests on the NHS are expected to be axed within weeks as part of the Government’s ‘Living with Covid’ strategy.
Nevertheless, certain countries still require a private PCR test ahead of travel - check the https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice website for your destination to ensure you follow the correct guidance for Covid testing.
Is it safe to complete a PCR test at home?
Simply put - yes, provided:
- you ensure you use a government approved provider
- book the PCR test ahead of travel
- factor in that PCR tests at home can only be done Monday to Friday
- follow the company instructions to the letter
However, PCR testing is a flooded, controversial market where some companies do not advertise prices transparently. Your first concern is to ensure that you use a firm on the UK Government’s approved list. All firms listed in this article are government approved.
You’re not allowed to use the free NHS tests for travel purposes. You have to pay for any required tests when you return to the UK.
Ahead of booking travel, it is worth considering the cost of the PCR tests - it can significantly add to the total of your travel costs, particularly if you are travelling as a family and have children over 11. It is worth shopping around for a cheaper (but reliable) test - some suppliers charge in excess of £100 for a travel test.
Who can I book home testing kits through?
As aforementioned, the market is flooded for home testing kits, and they are not all created equal. The following listed are UK government approved companies that our testers have had positive experiences with. Prices sited are for vaccinated travellers (non-vaccinated travellers have to pay more).
You will then have to fill in a passenger locator form online, any time in the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK.
It will ask for a booking reference to prove you’ve booked the necessary testing package for your destination.
Mandatory PCR Day 2 Covid-19 Test: £64.
Results received within 24 hours of the test being received by the lab.
Test is sent to your home via DPD next day delivery from Monday to Sunday - can be returned via any RoyalMail post box.
Day 2 and Day 2 & 8 (PCR) COVID-19 Post-Travel At-Home Testing Service: £68
Results received within 24-48 hours of test received by lab.
Test is sent to your home via RoyalMail two day dispatch the day after the order is place - can not arrive on a Monday. Can be returned via any RoyalMail post box.
At home Day 2 Covid Test: £69
Results received by 10pm the next day after test received. Can be returned via any RoyalMail post box.
Testing on site at arrival at an airport
For guides to being tested on site, as you land in an airport from your overseas travel, check the following links. Though it is a faster, more convenient services, on-site testing often costs more.