What should a PCR test cost when you travel?

How much does a PCR test cost? If you are going away this summer, here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about testing for travel.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

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It’s safe to say that holiday prep in 2021 is a bit different. Flight booked? Check. Travel insurance purchased? Check. Bought your PCR test? As a new feature of travelling abroad, the PCR test market is a bit of an unknown. So it’s hard to know what a PCR test should cost. Prices can vary widely – from £75 on average, up to hundreds of pounds.

In fact the health secretary, Sajid Javid, has asked the competition watchdog to investigate ‘excessive’ pricing and ‘exploitative practices’. Travellers have complained of high prices and poor service. 

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So how much should a PCR test cost?


How much does a PCR test cost?

Unfortunately right now, that’s like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’. With over 400 firms offering PCR tests, the costs range from as little as £20 to more than £500.

Airport testing

There are three providers that offer PCR testing at UK airports.

  • Collinson – Its rapid test, which offers results in three hours, is £95. Meanwhile, the standard PCR test cost is £82.50.
  • ExpressTest – This provider’s fit-to-fly PCR tests range from £59 to £80, depending on location.
  • Randox – Express PCR tests are available for £95 at its airport locations. You can also purchase day two and day eight tests for £60.


Airlines are also offering discounted rates with government-approved testing providers.

  • British Airways – Prices start from £40.41. There are different options, so prices will vary depending on which one you go for.
  • Ryanair – Ryanair has partnered with Randox to offer PCR tests for £43. This discounted price is only available to UK-based travellers.
  • easyJet – The budget airline has also partnered with Randox Health to offer discounted home testing kits for £43.

High street

Boots has launched a PCR self-test package for £65, which can be ordered online and delivered the next day.

Alternatively, you can opt for an in-store Covid-19 PCR Testing Service for £85, which will give you results in 48 hours.


What else do you need to consider?

If you are budgeting for travelling abroad this summer, then it’s not just the cost of the test you need to consider. It’s also how many tests you need.

Under the new travel rules, a vaccinated traveller to green and amber list destinations will need a lateral flow test before departing their destination to travel back to the UK. They will also need a PCR test on or before day two of their return.

However, unvaccinated travellers will need even more.

Let’s take a popular tourist destination like Spain:

Fully vaccinated

You will require two tests for return travel to Spain. If you have completed both your Covid-19 vaccinations at least 14 days before travel, you will not be required to take a test to fly to mainland Spain.

Which means that you will only need to take a Rapid Antigen test to return home and a PCR on day two after arrival.


If you are unvaccinated then you will need four tests to travel. In order to enter Spain, you will need to show proof of a negative PCR, TMA, LAMP or NEAR test from within 72 hours prior to your arrival.

You will then need to do a Rapid Antigen test to return home, plus a PCR test on days two and eight.

Final word

If you want to avoid spending more than you need to on PCR tests, then it is worth doing your research beforehand. Understanding the testing requirements for your chosen destination is key. But so is comparing the PCR test cost of different providers.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the costs are per person. So if you are a family of four, the price can quickly add up. Children aged five and over will also need to be tested.

Finally, travel during Covid-19 can be unpredictable. So now, more than ever, it is important to take out travel insurance in order to make sure you are protected when abroad, and don’t forget to have a travel credit card to avoid foreign transaction fees stacking up!

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