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I’ve been flying in and out of England reasonably frequently in the past 12 months so I have first-hand experience of how painful the cost of all the Covid tests needed to get into the country has sometimes felt. Now, however, things are a lot better, and with fully vaccinated travelers now only required to take a ‘Day 2’ test upon arrival, I thought that I’d take a quick look at two UK testing providers with whom I’ve had good experiences.
England’s entry rules for vaccinated travelers
Fully vaccinated travelers visiting England no longer have to take a pre-departure Covid test and no longer need to take a minimum of 2 tests upon arrival.
At the time of writing (things can change quickly), England simply requires fully vaccinated passengers to complete a ‘passenger locator form‘ and take a Covid test on or before day 2 of their trip.
Importantly, travelers will need to have their ‘Day 2’ test booked before they fly to England as the passenger locator form requires them to include a unique reference code that testing companies provide when a test booking is made.
The tests that I use
Note: Traveling for Miles has no relationships with the testing providers mentioned in this article so the information provided below is based purely on personal experience and has not been commissioned, reviewed, or requested by any testing company or service.
Over the past 18 months, I’ve become accustomed to using Qured tests as my pre-departure test for England and the US but it was only on my last trip to England a couple of weeks ago that I got to try out the Qured Day 2 lateral flow test.
Ordering a Day 2 test on the Qured website is simple and although the headline price for a Day 2 test is £22, you can bring that down to under £19/$26 by using a voucher code issued by British Airways (you don’t have to be flying with BA to use this code).
Qured offers you the option of a video consultation that you can have as you take your Day 2 test but as this is not required by the UK government, it’s an added expense that you don’t have to suffer.
Shortly after you pay for your test, you’ll receive an email confirmation from Qured within which you’ll find the all-important ‘unique registration code’ that passengers have to supply on the UK Passenger Locator form.
As long as you don’t leave things too late and don’t need to take your test on a weekend, there should be no need to have to pay for priority courier delivery. Based on my experience and the experience of others that I know who have used Qured, the Day 2 test will arrive at your chosen address on the day that you arrive in the country.
The test kits that I’ve seen all arrive in a small box…
..alongside some simple instructions.
The contents of the test kit look like this:
The test itself is simple (it’s like every other lateral flow test so if you’ve taken one before, this will be familiar).
You use the swab that’s provided to swab one of your nostrils, you then immerse the end of the swab (with your sample) into the tube of liquid provided, you stir for 30 seconds, and then using the specially designed tube cover provided, you pour 2 drops of the solution into the specimen well (labeled ‘S’) in the rapid test cartridge that is provided.
You now set a timer for 15 minutes and wait to see what happens.
All being well (i.e you don’t have Covid), you’ll see a red line appear under the letter ‘C’ in the cartridge and after the 15 minutes are up, you’ll have 10 minutes to do the following:
- Write the time the test was taken on the cartridge
- Write the date the test was taken on the cartridge
- Take a picture of the cartridge alongside a photo ID (all in one picture)
- Email the image of your test to Qured
When I took my test a couple of weeks ago, I had an email confirmation of my result within 22 minutes. Now that more people are traveling the wait time may be longer, but as you already know the result of your test and are just waiting for ‘official confirmation’ this really shouldn’t matter.
When England still required travelers to take tests on day 2 and day 8 of their visit, Testingforall.org was my go-to provider for these tests as even at £99 it was one of the most affordable options available.
Now that only a ‘Day 2’ test is required and now that the test can be a lateral flow test rather than a PCR test, the cost of a test from Testingforall.org is considerably lower. Specifically and at the time of writing, a Testingforall.org Day 2 test costs just £17/~$23 per person.
Just like the Qured test, the Testingforall.org Day 2 lateral flow test is self-administered and while travelers can see the result of their test within 15 – 20 minutes of taking it, the result still has to be uploaded to Testingforall’s website for verification. A certificate confirming the result will be issued within 5 hours.
I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try one of Testingforall’s lateral flow tests as none were available the last time I flew into England, but I’ve taken more Testingforall Day 2/Day 8 PCR tests than I care to remember and the service has always been good (i.e. the tests always arrived in the mail on time).
If you qualify as a fully vaccinated traveler under the UK government’s rules you now only need to take a ‘Day 2’ Covid test when you arrive in the country. Everyone should be booking tests with providers they feel most comfortable using but if you don’t have a preferred provider, my experiences would indicate that both Qured and Testingforall.org offer very good options.