The well-known pandemic restrictions mean that most countries require a negative Covid-19 PCR test result upon entry, or even before boarding the plane.
UK travellers are not permitted to use the free NHS testing service and must instead go through a private clinic or firm. Moreover, the required tests need to be made up to 48 or 72 hours before arrival, so good timing is needed as well. These tests aren’t cheap, costing around £150 at the time of writing.
However, some travel companies and airports are attempting to introduce subsidised or discounted tests, making the whole process that more convenient and affordable.
Where to check entry restrictions and quarantine requirements
There are many sources online to find the information, and currently, even Google provides some advise when you simply search for a destination.
However; our preferred option is Skycanner’s COVID-19 travel info map. It’s a super fast and useful tool which lets you navigate travel entry restrictions and quarantine requirements for any destination, and get updates when things change.
Private centres, pharmacies and clinics for tests
Life pharmacy is the cheapest option we have found in London. We know many people who have used them and are trustworthy. The shop is on Oxford Street (next to Primark), it costs £99 and the results are ready in less than 24 hs.
The payment is made in advanced by phone: 02074918444
If you need to change your booking you can also do it by phone, and they also offer a voucher if you don’t need the test anymore.
Boots has its own service as well. It costs £120 and booking are made online on this website. Results are ready within 48 hours.
The payment is also made online even before you can select a time slot, which is a bit odd.
Corona Test Centre
PCR Fit to Fly test for £145, PCR Tests for £135, Antigen Test for £95 and Antibody test for £95.
Medical Express Clinic
Medical Express Clinic offers PCR test and Fit to Fly certificate for £199. Additionally, an Antibody test costs £149. It can take up to 48 hs but the majority of the times (49% according to them) takes only 12 hours.
City Doc provides PCR test in one our their 7 clinics which are open 7 days a week for for £200. Additionally, for £150 you can purchase the test online which is sent to your address so you can do it, send it back and wait for the results.
Other Clinics and Centres
- Wren healthcare, £145 (48 hs), £170 (24 hs)
- Randox Health, £120 in-clinic (24 hs), Antibody £95, Home sample PCR £120
- Better2Know, swab home test kit for £125
- Check my body health, PCR self-swab test for £120
- Concepto Clinic, same day PCR for £199
Airports and Travel companies tests
The Sofitel Hotel at London Heathrow is selling a “test and rest” package comprising a night at the hotel, breakfast and a PCR test so you can travel the next day.
In the meantime, COVID-19 testing facilities from Collinson and Swissport are ready at the airport, waiting for the UK Government to release inbound passengers who test negative from quarantine early.
The airport is also offering LAMP tests, which can be processed quickly and without being sent to a laboratory.
Gatwick Airport has converted its Long Stay Car Park at the South Terminal into a Covid-19 screening centre to offer fast, accurate and lab-analysed PCR swab tests.
Passengers and airport employees will be charged a subsidised rate of £60 to use the screening service, while the general public will be able to use it for £99. However, passengers are advised to schedule a test 48-96 hours prior to their departure time.
Edinburgh Airport has also released an express test scheme. They have introduced a Covid-19 drive-through screening service centre in front of the terminal to provide a fast and accurate PCR swab test with results emailed or texted to customers the next day.
The pricing structure is £60 for staff, £80 for passengers and £99 for the general public. A group discount is also offered, with up to 30% off for groups of four or more, however, participants need to ensure they are adhering to government guidelines when they arrive for their screening.
EasyJet has launched lab partnerships to offer passengers reduced-price testing. The two partners are Confirm Testing and City Doc, and customers can choose between an at-home testing kit or a walk-in test at a clinic.
Passengers can book the Confirm test for £75 compared to the retail price of £119. For City Doc, the home test will cost travellers £100 compared to the usual £185, while an in-clinic test is priced at £150, rather than £200.
The kits are usually priced at £120, but Tui customers can get 30 per cent off by using a special discount code, bringing the price down to £84.
The Fit to Fly package, which includes a PCR swab test and certificate, will be available to Wizz Air customers for £85 instead of the usual price tag of over £110.