How do I buy a lateral flow test for travelling abroad?

BRITS heading on holiday abroad next week can finally book the new lateral flow tests as restrictions are lifted.

From Sunday, the mandatory PCR tests required by UK arrivals to be taken on day two after a holiday are being scrapped.

How do I buy a lateral flow test for travel?

Eligible fully vaccinated passengers arriving in England from countries not on the UK’s red list can take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a PCR from 24 October.

The government has updated its website with the full list of providers offering day two lateral flow tests, which can now be booked.

Passengers must send a photo of their test result to the private provider – failure to do so could result in a fine of £1000– and anyone with a positive result will need to take a free NHS confirmatory PCR test and isolate.

Lateral flow tests must be taken as soon as possible on the day of arrival in England or at the latest before the end of a passenger’s second day and can now be purchased from the list of private providers on gov.uk from as little as £22 – significantly cheaper than PCR tests.

Passengers must take a photo of their lateral flow test and booking reference supplied by the private provider and send it back to them to verify the result.

They are also now able to book a test which they can take on their arrival into England at testing centres located in some airports.

People using PCR tests for travel will have their test reported by the company they purchase the test from.

How much does it cost?

Cignpost Express Test announced they are offering the tests for £25 a person.

The new test can be home delivered or completed at their airport and testing sites, with results in 25 minutes, and authenticated when the customer uploads a photograph of their test and passport number to the ExpressTest app.

The government website shows tests starting from £20, with the most expensive being £28.75 – significantly cheaper than PCRs which start from £43, although are around £75 on average.

Can I get them on the NHS?

They are not available on the NHS.

Lateral flow tests for international travel must be purchased from a private provider as NHS Test and Trace lateral flow tests cannot be used for international travel.

When do I need to take a PCR test?

Passengers who have already bought a PCR to use for travel do not need to buy another test as PCRs can still be used.

Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which can be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.

PCR tests can be accessed free of charge by ordering in the usual way through NHS Test and Trace – via nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. 

Test providers will be expected to advise people to self-isolate and direct people towards the NHS Test and Trace booking page.

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