A headache has returned to the post-Covid travel checklist: Day 2 PCR tests. This time, however, it comes with a fresh pain – self-isolation until you receive a negative result.
Before today you simply needed to book the cheapest lateral flow test available (prices had fallen to as low as £1) and rest safe in the knowledge that – even if the result never even arrived – you’d done what was required. Now, however, the all-important factor is timing.
Those who cannot work from home, or who are travelling with children that need to get back to school, need snappy results. They may not, however, want to fork out hundreds of pounds per person to guarantee a quick turnaround.
Test providers already seem to be wise to this fact as the new rules for arrivals have come into effect (at 4am on November 30). If your flight lands in good time to get to an airport test centre by 8pm, that would be your best route to ensuring fast results. Should you arrive after this time, or very early in the morning, then a drive-through clinic is the best alternative.
If you’re not working to a budget, and time is very short, then you could get an at home test taken in London and expect results within as little as four hours.
Be warned: however, fast and cheap tests are in high demand. The phone line of one provider we called today was choc-full – we entered at 115 in the queue. Book early, where possible.
- Where: Heathrow
- Fastest turnaround time: By 11.59 the day after your appointment
- How much: £55, without discount codes
- Opening times: 7am-6.30pm
- Test cut-off time: By the last appointment
- Book it: fly.randox.com
- Where? More than 20 test centres, including at airports and drive-through
- Fastest turnaround time? By 10pm the day after your test
- How much? From £69
- Opening times? Varies between centres, usually closed by 8pm
- Test cut-off time? Aims to provide results by 10pm next day, regardless of what time it was taken
- Book it: expresstest.co.uk
- Where? Newcastle/Leeds Bradford
- Fastest turnaround time? By 11.59 the day after your appointment
- How much? From £95
- Opening times? Varies, typically 8am-8pm
- Test cut-off time? N/A
- Book it: nph-group.co.uk
In clinic, London
- Where? Seven destinations across London.
- Turnaround time? By 2am that night for ‘same-day’ service; by midnight the following day for ‘next time’ option.
- How much? Same day from £99 (St John’s Wood and London Bridge £109), next day from £59 (most appointments listed were £69-£74).
- Opening times? Times vary between clinics, but the last available across all clinics is 3pm
- Test cut-off time for same day results? 3pm
- Book it: doctap.co.uk
In clinic, London and elsewhere
Corona Test Centre
- Where? 11 clinics, including London, Surrey, Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle (note that same-day tests are not yet available in Manchester and Bristol).
- Turnaround time? By 23.59 for same day; or 6pm for next day
- How much? £99 for same day; £59 for next day
- Opening times? Varies depending on clinic
- Test cut-off time for same day results? 2/3pm
- Book it: coronatestcentre.com
The Regenerative Clinic
- Where? 12 clinics across England
- Turnaround time? By midnight same day
- How much? £99
- Opening times? Around 8am-8pm
- Test cut-off times for same day results? By last appointment
- Book it: theregenerativeclinic.co.uk
Drive-through, London and elsewhere
- Where? Eurofins offers various testing services, but its fastest are the drive-through centres at Heathrow and Edinburgh/Livingston
- Turnaround time? Eurofins aims for 12-24 hours for the test to be completed
- How much? £39.90 at these two centres
- Opening times? Heathrow centre 7am-6pm (varies over the Christmas period); Edinburgh/Livingston centre 8.15am-6.30pm Mon-Sun (varies over the Christmas period)
- Test cut off time for same day results? N/A
- Book it: traveltesting.eurofins.co.uk
At home, courier service
- Where? Available within the M25; At home, the test is self-administered, a courier will wait while you take the test
- Turnaround time? 36 hours (the courier will deliver the test to the lab within 12 hours, the lab will process the result within 24 hours)
- How much? £64 for the test; £29 for the courier service for the first test, £7 for each additional test collected by the courier
- Opening times? Next-day delivery (and pick-up), must be booked by 6pm; delivered between 10am-2pm
- Test cut off time? N/A
- Book it: qured.com
Superfast turnaround, within London
The Mayfair GP
- Where? At home, visits available around Mayfair, Chelsea and Marylebone
- Turnaround time? Four hours
- How much? £499 per person; discounts for group bookings of 10 or more people
- Opening times? N/A
- Test cut off time? By 2pm that day
- Book it: themayfairgp.com