Another week, another hurdle to add to the Covid travel checklist. Pre-departure tests are back.
From 4am, on December 7 all those aged 12 years and over must take a PCR or rapid antigen (lateral flow) test before they travel to the UK from abroad – and it applies whether you are fully vaccinated or not. It follows on from the reintroduction of Day 2 PCR tests for anyone who enters the UK from abroad.
Government advice is to take the pre-departure test in the two days before your return to the UK. If your trip is a multi-leg journey, you must take the test in the two days before the start of the first leg.
While the Government gives you a choice between taking a PCR test or a lateral flow test, the latter is usually cheaper and quicker, with results coming in just 15-20 minutes in some cases. Therefore we’ve chosen to list only lateral flow tests.
The tests are self-administered. However, you must either carry them out while on a video call with a health professional, or else take a photograph of the completed test and upload to an app for verification.
Expected delivery of test kits range from next-day delivery to seven working days; we’ve outlined details below. Also, bear in mind whether time difference will be an issue in your travel destination as some testing clinics won’t verify results after 8pm GMT (this is also noted in the below where relevant).
Method of delivery: Home delivery (four to six working days); click and collect kits can be picked up immediately, with collection points including various newsagents and shopping centres in the UK
Turnaround time: Aims to verify results within three hours
How much: Click and Collect £18.95; Home delivery from £24
Anything else? Download and sign into the Randox CertiFly app in advance of taking your test. You will need to upload a picture of your lateral flow (antigen) test to the app; travel certification provided
Book it: covid.randoxhealth.com
Method of delivery: Home delivery. Order at least five days before your outbound travel and they promise to get your test kit three days before you go
Turnaround time: Results within 15-20 minutes, travel certificate within 30 mins after performing the test
How much: £18.99 including postage
Book it: chronomics.com
Method of delivery: Home delivery. Order by 2pm for free DPD Next Day Delivery
Turnaround time: Online results within 20 minutes, negative test results act as your travel certificate
How much: £19
Anything else? You will need access to a smartphone to activate their tests by following the instructions on their app
Book it: projectscreen.co.uk
Method of delivery: Home delivery, within 1-2 working days (2-3 days in the north of Scotland or in the Scottish Highlands and Islands). Will arrive the next day if you place your order before 6pm. Same day dispatch if you order before 1.30pm
Turnaround time: Within two hours
How much: £22
Book it: qured.com
Method of delivery: Home delivery - they advise ordering your test kit at least seven working days before travel
Turnaround time: Within two hours when submitted between 8am-8pm (GMT). A Fit to Fly certificate will be administered for a negative test result. For test results submitted outside of the stated hours, certificates will be provided as early as possible the next day
How much: £24.50
Book it: collinsongroup.com
Method of delivery: Home delivery. Test kit dispatched next working day and delivered by courier
Turnaround time: Results within 15 minutes
How much: £25
Anything else? You will need access to a smartphone to download the NPH iMed follow step-by-step instructions and receive your results
Book it: nph-group.co.uk
Method of delivery: Home delivery. You can order your test kits up until four days before your departure from the UK. On working days, your kit will be dispatched the same day if ordered before 6pm
Turnaround time: Results within one hour (between hours of 8am-11.59pm GMT)
How much: £35
Anything else? Requires internet connection and device with a camera
Book it: expresstest.co.uk
Corona Test Centre
Method of delivery: Home delivery. Allow for three working days for the test kit to arrive at your home
Turnaround time: Results in 20 mins and your Fit to Fly certificate issued within three hours of ID verification
How much: From £39
Book it: coronatestcentre.com