NEWS: How to get a UK COVID-19 test suitable for travel abroad

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As countries start to reopen they all have different requirements, many of these require proof of a negative COVID test within a certain time. So how do you arrange this and can you use an NHS test?

Each country has different requirements, but the majority will not accept an email or text test result which is what you get with the NHS. Most countries want a certificate of being COVID free. Each country varies and there seems to be no general certificate that is worldwide. I would make sure you check very carefully with the country you are travelling to. On the first BA flight to Barbados, a lot of people were held back at the airport to be tested again as they would not accept NHS tests and there were also issues with home testing kits. They were basing the 72 hours on when the kit was posted to you, not when you got the results or actually took the test. 

If you are looking at ex EU flights both Frankfurt and Munich airports will be offering testing at the airport which could make life a lot simpler.

Istanbul also offers a cheap and quick testing service.

The good news is that these are available fairly easily. The bad news is that a) most don’t 100% guarantee that they will achieve test results in a certain time and b) you will have to pay a not-insignificant sum of money for it c) outside London only seem to be available as a home test kit. 


Where to get a PCR COVID-19 test suitable for travel abroad

London Doctors Clinic

I have not used a test for travel, but we did use the same private test from London Doctors Clinic. The test kit arrives within 1-2 days  Results from the swab test are usually available within 3 working days of receipt. In our experience, it arrived back in 48 hours. The price of the test has risen hugely in the last few weeks and they now want a whopping £189 but this at least includes postage both ways. You then need to get a certificate which costs £25. If you want to speed things up, you can pay £45 to have the test couriered to you, and then the courier will wait 20 minutes for you to take the test, and then they will return it to the lab.



Nomad is a travel specialist health company. They have recently started offering COVID tests for travel. The price is a lot more reasonable at £160 including the certificate. Again this is a home PCR test. If you require certification, i.e. a Doctors’s Letter with the test result, then you will also need a video consultation to confirm that it is you who is taking the sample. The clinician will guide you through how to take the sample and will require to view a piece of photo I.D. via the video chat too.

However, it gives no timescales or time guarantees, so in terms of a travel certificate, these seem pretty useless as most places need you to be tested within 72 hours of arrival.


The London General Practice

If you want a more speedy service then is probably for you, but it comes at a price. The test is easy to use from home, and is dispatched the same day. Test dispatch is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You will have a short video consultation prior to the test to discuss its suitability and how to take the test. You can then do the test at home, using a kit we will send you via courier. On return, results are available same day (if the swabs are returned by 7:00am), and once ready one of their Doctors will be in touch to discuss the results with you.

The Price for the Swab Test is £315, which includes the test itself plus the pre and post-test advice and interpretation service with a Doctors. They can also provide a test certificate for travel.

You can find more details here.


City Doc

City Doc offer tests for travel and understand that the tests need to be processed between five and three days before the flight departure. They say that they will work as best we can to get the test processed as quickly as possible. City Doc says they are confident that these timelines are achievable in almost all cases but they can’t guarantee it. The most fool-proof way is to attend a test in person in London if you are flying from Heathrow. They can offer a testing service at their central London clinics (Canary Wharf, Oxford Street or City of London) Tests done here are sent to the lab in London the same day. Results are processed within 24 to 48 hours of arriving at the lab. This is the most efficient way to be tested quickly.

A postal testing service is available from the website if you cannot get to London. If you order a kit before 12 noon you will receive it next working day. You can then post the kit back to arrive at the lab next working day. The lab takes 24 to 48 hours to process the test. This costs £125 plus a £25 fee for the certificate. They ask for your travel details on the form so they know when you need the test results by.


Dr Wayne Cottrell, Canary Wharf

Dr Wayne Cottrell is a Private GP who has had a medical clinic in Canary Wharf for the past 8 years. As wells as offering general GP and travel vaccinations, they are now offering PCR testing for travel. 

It’s primarily a service for patients that are either in London or near enough to be able to drop sample back in on the same day. The clinic will post a preprepared kit for guaranteed next day delivery before 1pm ( or you can also pick it up if more urgent if the kit is in stock).

You would then do the test the morning when the 72 hr window starts. You then need to bring the test back to the clinic or arrange for a courier to back to our clinic before 1pm the same day that you take the test.  

You would get results back usually within 24 hrs ( can take up to 48 but rare) and get the encrypted results and an electronically signed medical certificate, confirming negative status ( if that’s the case), You can either print the document or access it in the patient portal on your own device.

It’s also rather useful that if the test positive they will assist with travel insurance documentation.

The total cost  for the service is £250 

You can find more details and book here:


Other information

If you are concerned about the risk of coronavirus in your destination this official website is useful. - You can select the country you are travelling to, then click alerts and it will tell you the latest situation and travel warnings for health.

This page gives you the latest travel entry requirements for countries and this one for EU countries.


11 Comments on "NEWS: How to get a UK COVID-19 test suitable for travel abroad"

  1. Ha, so from around £200 per test. Hungary requires you to have two separate negative test results within 5 days of arrival 😆😆. Therefore that’s 10 tests for my family of five which includes three children over 18.
    Thank you four flexible travel policy BA, we’ll be in touch 👍

  2. Wow. Sounds like quite an expensive faff!

    • Copenhagen airport provides free tests on arrival. It takes up to 3 days to get the results I believe.

  3. thanks for the article, i need to get a family of 3 the tests for Seychelles (assuming they let people from the UK in by October)

  4. Anyone tried Blue Horizons test?

    I’m not affiliated with them, but they look like a less pricey option

  5. Going France do I need to do a test

  6. price and time to process tests in the UK is a joke. Turkey can manage a test for around $20 to $30 and a 6 hour wait for travel certificate. Here were expected to pay anywhere between £130 to £400 to get results in 2-3 days what a joke . The certificate doesnt guarantee anything other than you were clear of the virus 2-3 days before travelling. The results take too long and why is the cost so high when they cannot even deliver in the same day. This is just another money making scam with very little or no benefits for the traveller. Its about time tests were made available at reasonable costs with quick results before the tourist industry is totally destroyed.

    • Boots are beginning to do COVID tests in London, so I think once a big chain gets on board and there is competition, there will be a cheaper option. The issue is that its not a simple thing to do in terms of having a lab that can process the tests. Turkey’s government obviously got on board to encourage tourism and connecting flights. Our government seems more intent on destroying the travel industry at the moment for some reason.

  7. The prices for a test is absolutely ludicrous, honestly. I could be wrong but it seems like everyone is really ripping it.
    The sad thing is, if we want to travel we need it, and unfortunately for whatever reason NHS test results mean nothing in certain Countries.

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