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The UK has a wide variety of authorized suppliers of COVID-19 tests for travelers wishing to travel abroad, for travelers returning home after a visit to the UK, and for UK residents returning after a trip outside of the country and one such supplier is HALO Verify.
I’ve written about the HALO Verify COVID-19 test in the past because it’s the test that’s offered by the Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow T5, because it’s the least invasive COVID-19 test that I’ve heard about, because it’s a test that’s accepted for entry into the United States, because it’s a test that’s accepted for England’s ‘test to release’ program, and because it’s a test that I’ve used a number of times.
Up until recently I’ve had no reason to be anything but satisfied with the HALO Verify test, but that’s probably only because I had only used the test when time wasn’t of the essence. If you’re considering using the HALO Verify COVID-19 test before you fly out of the UK or if you’re considering using it as part of the ‘test to release’ program, you should read on.
- The HALO Verify COVID-19 test costs £89 (~$125)
- Using the promo code BRITISHAIRWAYSHALO will trigger a 16% discount
Note: You don’t have to be traveling with British Airways to use the promo code.
Requesting A Test
You can request a HALO Verify COVID-19 test via the main HALO webpage and you’ll receive an email confirmation shortly after your purchase has been processed (usually within a minute).
In my experience (I’ve had two tests shipped to me) the test kits get sent out quickly and arrive via courier the next day as long as you order the test before 6 pm.
What You Get
The test kit arrives in a small, blue cardboard pouch…
…and it’s pretty basic:
The pack includes a single sheet of paper that tells you how to get started…
…but you’ll need to have the HALO Verify app downloaded to your device to actually proceed with the test.
Taking The Test
I posted a step-by-step walkthrough of a HALO Verify COVID-19 test a few months ago so if you’d like to know exactly what the test involves I suggest you read that before you carry on reading below.
If you just want to see a screenshot of each stage of the test as viewed on an iPhone, click/tap on the thumbnails below.
Returning The Test (And The Issues Caused)
Before you actually take the test you need to schedule a courier collection (this is included in the price of the test) by calling 0330-390-4586 between 08:00 and 17:00 on any day of the week (book by 15:00 for a next weekday collection). Test results are made available within 24 hours of the test sample being delivered to the lab.
Two Key Things To Note
- The HALO Verify courier service only offers collections on Monday through Friday (it doesn’t operate on weekends).
- Unlike the service offered at the Sofitel T5, the results of the home HALO test aren’t available the day after the test is taken. This is because the courier company doesn’t deliver the test to the lab until the day after it was collected. Essentially, if you take a test on a Monday (for example) it will be collected on the same day, delivered to HALO on Tuesday and you’ll get your result on Wednesday.
Issue 1 – Problems For Tuesday & Wednesday Departures
As most destinations require travelers to take their pre-departure COVID-19 tests in the 3 days leading up to their day of travel, the way that HALO’s courier service works makes it unusable for anyone traveling on a Tuesday – the test cannot be taken on the preceding Friday as that would put it outside of the 3-day window, it can’t be taken over the weekend as there are no collections on a weekend, and if it’s taken on the preceding Monday the results won’t be returned in time for a traveler to fly.
It also makes it a lottery for anyone traveling on a Wednesday morning as with no weekend collections the test would have to be taken on the preceding Monday, it would on reach the HALO lab on the Tuesday, and then there’s no guarantee that the result would be available in time for a Wednesday morning departure.
Issue 2 – Problems For ‘Test To Release’
Anyone wishing to use the HALO Verify COVID-19 test as part of the UK’s ‘test to release’ program is not able to do so if their ‘day 5’ falls on a weekend (because there are no test collections on weekends) and even if their ‘day 5’ falls on a weekday, the way that HALO’s courier works means that the test won’t reach the lab until day 6 and the result will not be available until day 7.
When a number of other companies offer tests that return a result the same day (day 5), why would anyone use HALO for their ‘test to release’ test?
Issue 3 – Pick Ups Are Not Scheduled
I’ve now used the HALO Verify COVID-19 test for two ‘fit to fly’ tests and on neither occasion was I able to select a time frame for my test to be collected.
The first time I used HALO for my ‘fit to fly’ test I got a text message and an email on the day my test was due to be collected to give me an idea of when to expect the courier…
…and the second time around the courier just turned up unannounced.
Being given a time frame by the courier on the day of collection is better than nothing (even though it makes it hard to make any plans), but being given no timeframe whatsoever and having to be at the pick-up location for every minute of the day that the courier is due to visit (until the courier arrives) is ridiculous. It’s like HALO doesn’t appreciate that people have jobs!
As COVID-19 tests go the HALO test is very straightforward and not in any way invasive and that makes it a very attractive option. The way that the pick-up courier service works, however, puts some serious limitations on the usefulness of the overall offering and can make it a pointless or unusable option for some. Make sure that this test will work for you before you go ahead and book.