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Cheaper Covid-19 travel tests are on the way!

Cheaper Covid-19 travel tests are on the way!
Image source: Getty Images


Jetting off abroad soon? Then here’s some good news about Covid-19 travel tests – they’re about to get cheaper! Here’s what you need to know. 

Travel tests: what are the new rules?

Normally, you must self-isolate immediately after you return to England from travel abroad. If you’re fully vaccinated, you can take a PCR test on day two of isolation and, if it’s negative, you can end the isolation period. 

However, all that’s about to change. From 24 October 2021, if you’re fully vaccinated, you can skip the PCR test and simply take a lateral flow test on or before day two! 

What does “fully vaccinated” mean, though? Well, if you’re over 18, you must have had both Covid-19 jabs, for one thing. And, at least 14 days must have passed since your second dose. 

To be clear, though, the changes also apply to the medically exempt and under-18s, regardless of their vaccination status. 

Do the new travel test rules apply around the UK?

Right now, they only apply in England. So, if you’re returning to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you need to follow the guidelines for your home nation, even if you’re vaccinated.

Keep your eyes peeled for any updates, though – there’s a chance the rules will change across the UK to align with the changes in England. 

How much do lateral flow tests cost?

Lateral flow tests are cheaper than PCR tests. 

On average, lateral flow tests cost around £30 per person, although costs do vary by provider. PCR tests cost almost twice as much at around £75 per person.  

A word of warning, though: you will need to pay for lateral flow travel tests. You can’t use free NHS tests for this purpose. If you try to use an NHS lateral flow test for your travel test, even if it’s a negative result, you risk being fined.

So, don’t risk it – book a private lateral flow test!

Do the new rules apply if you’re unvaccinated?

No, the cheaper travel tests are only available if you’ve had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. So, if you’re over 18 and unvaccinated, you still need to quarantine for 10 days upon returning to England. 

However, unless you’re travelling through a red list country, you can possibly end isolation early by paying for a private Covid-19 test on day five of the isolation period. The gov.uk website sets out your options in detail, so check the guidance if you’re unsure how it applies to you.

How do you get cheaper travel tests?

A list of lateral flow providers goes live on the UK government website on 22 October 2021. Under the new rules, you’ll need to book a test through one of these providers.

  • You’ll need to book the test online before you return to England from abroad. Or, you might be able to book an airport test for when you arrive back in England – check before you depart.  
  • Once you complete the lateral flow test, simply upload pictures of your test result, along with your booking confirmation, to the provider’s website. 
  • If you test positive, you can book a free PCR test to confirm the result. If you’re negative, there’s no need to isolate.

Travel tests: takeaway

If you plan to jet away for the half-term break, the new travel test rules are welcome news. However, just remember that even if your lateral flow test is negative, you should isolate immediately and book a PCR test if you later develop Covid-19 symptoms. 

Are you planning a dream holiday now that travel has opened up again? Don’t forget to check out some travel credit cards before you go, and remember to shop around for travel insurance.

Looking for a top-notch travel credit card?

Some credit cards can charge foreign transaction fees of up to 3%. To help you sidestep those charges while travelling, we’ve assembled our top-rated travel credit cards that don’t charge you any extra fees when spending abroad.

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