I haven’t received my test result - what should I do?
All test bookings are made directly with the provider, under the terms and conditions laid out by that provider. As such, Covid Testing Network cannot enter into communications regarding an individual test booking. We do not have access to any personal information relating to test bookings.
Please contact your test provider if you have questions about a test you’ve booked or taken, or if there are any issues with results or the service you expect to receive.
If you have feedback about a test provider, the government advises you to email Test and Trace directly at [email protected] Please note, Covid Testing Network does not own this inbox.
Can PCR tests be done at home?
Yes, you can take Covid-19 samples at home, but the sample must then be posted to a laboratory for processing. PCR tests involve taking a swab of the nose and back of the throat to collect genetic material, which can be done by the individual themselves or by someone else.
There are a number of home testing options that exist where you receive the swabbing kit and instructions to take your sample at home. This sample will then need to be sent to a lab for processing in order to receive a final result, and many home test kit prices include the cost of return postage and packaging.
I'm travelling from a Green country - which test should I book?
If you are returning from a Green country, you will need to take a pre-departure test as well as a PCR test on or before day 2 after your arrival back into England - but will not need to quarantine on return (unless you receive a positive result).
I'm travelling from an Amber country - which tests should I book?
If you are returning from an Amber country, you will need to take a pre-departure test and quarantine for a period of 10 days, as well as taking a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 of your quarantine. You have the option to shorten your quarantine by undertaking a Test to Release test on day 5 after your arrival to end your self-isolation early (although you will still need to take a day 8 test).
After 19th July 2021, arrivals who have been fully vaccinated with an NHS administered vaccine in the UK (so long as 14 days have passed since their final dose of the vaccine), or are on a formally approved UK vaccine clinical trial, will only be required to take a pre-departure test and a test on day 2, and will not need to quarantine.
I'm travelling from a Red country - which tests should I book?
Tests for Red list arrivals who are required to quarantine in Managed Quarantine Facilities can only be delivered by the official government provider, and are not available to purchase from private providers.
What are Day 2 & Day 8 tests?
On 15th February 2021, new legislation came into force requiring all international arrivals from a country or territory on the Red or Amber list to take a test on or before their 2nd full day in the country, and a test on or after their 8th full day in the country.
You must book these tests before travelling back to the UK, as you will need to fill out your Passenger Locator Form with the booking reference.
What is a Fit to Fly certificate or Fit to Travel test?
A Fit to Fly or Fit to Travel certificate is a document provided alongside a negative Covid-19 test as proof you are not currently infected with the virus. This is a requirement for many countries in order to travel abroad.
Although it is most often called a Fit to Fly test it is valid for all kinds of travel.
What is a Test to Release test?
Test to Release is a specific government scheme in England which offers people returning to the country the option to shorten their self-isolation by receiving a negative test. This can be taken on or after day 5 of isolation. You cannot use the Test to Release scheme if you’ve been in or through a country on the banned travel list (sometimes called the ‘Red list’) in the 10 days before you arrive in England. Test to Release is not applicable to those living in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Do I need a Covid test if I’m travelling by car?
All restrictions and rules apply whether you’re travelling by air, motor vehicle, or boat (including cruise liners and ferries).
Do I need a Covid test if I’m travelling within England?
You may be required to provide proof of a negative Covid test if you are taking an internal flight within England. Always check with your airline in advance.
Do I need a Covid test if I’m travelling to or returning from other countries in the UK?
The Common Travel Area is defined as the countries of the UK, the Crown dependencies and Ireland. In order to travel to and from these areas from England, you will not need to take a test but you will still need to complete a travel declaration form to justify your reason for travelling outside England.
Please check the specific regulations for each location to make sure you follow all the guidelines.
What test should I book before I return to England?
Before returning to England, you will need to show proof of a negative Covid test, taken at least 3 days before the date of your journey. You will have to contact a test provider in the country you are travelling from, as our website only features UK providers. Some UK providers also offer Antigen tests you are able to take with you on your trip to take out there before returning.
You will also need to book your Day 2 and Day 8 tests (or standalone Day 2 test, where relevant) before you travel, as you will need to include your booking reference on your Passenger Locator form.
If the country you are travelling from is on the Red list, you will need to book a quarantine hotel package through the government provider.
There are different rules in place if you are travelling to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Please check carefully that you are purchasing the correct tests as it is your responsibility to show proof of the purchase of tests at border control. The guidance for overseas travel is changing regularly, please always check government guidance prior to travel.
What test should I book before I leave the UK?
Before leaving the UK, you may need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test in order to enter another country.
Always check with your airline and the government travel advice website of the country you are travelling to for details of any tests required.
How do I prove my test is Negative to airlines or Travel providers?
Travel testing providers should provide you with a travel certificate stating your test is negative.
Always check with your airline and the government travel advice website of the country you are travelling to for details of any tests required.
What is a Passenger Locator Form?
A Passenger Locator Form is a document you must fill in before arriving in the UK from abroad. You will need to show the form when you check in to travel to the UK.
You must also book your Day 2 and Day 8 test before filling this in, as you will need to enter the booking reference for your tests on the Passenger Locator Form.
Are PCR tests free?
PCR tests can be ordered free from the NHS only if you are displaying symptoms for Covid-19 or for one of these reasons:
- you’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive
- you’ve been asked to get a test by a local council or contact tracers
- a GP or other health professional has asked you to get a test
- you’re taking part in a government pilot project
- you’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result
- you’ve received an unclear NHS test result and were told to get a second test
- you need to get a test for someone you live with who has symptoms
- you’re in the National Tactical Response Group.
If you do not meet the above criteria - for example you need a test to travel - you need to purchase your test through a private testing provider.
How much does a PCR test cost?
Prices differ from provider to provider for a number of reasons - for example to reflect different levels of customer support - and prices displayed on this site may or may not include services such as return postage, clinician appointments and more. Please contact providers directly for detailed product and pricing information.
It is important to note that some providers may offer a range of packages at different prices which incorporate additional services, such as premium delivery. The cost of a Covid test will vary between private providers depending on the type of test required and the service selected, such as turnaround times and certificates. Individual PCR tests can range from £50 to £250 or more.
Don't forget - if you have coronavirus symptoms you can order a free Covid test through the NHS.
Why is a PCR test expensive?
The cost of a PCR test is a result of the combined cost on the consumables used, logistics and transport, as well as the labour cost of the laboratory clinicians preparing and conducting the test.
Are group or family discounts available?
Some providers may offer group or family discounts so always check provider websites before you book.
I can’t afford a test but I have to travel. What can I do?
If you currently receive income support you may be eligible for a deferred payment plan through the government provider of Day 2 & Day 8 testing.
See Section 14.5 here.
Can I book a Covid test appointment in a clinic?
In order to arrange an in-person clinic appointment, or to use a drive-through or walk-through test site, you will need to book an appointment with a private provider in advance. You might also consider the option of ordering a home test kit straight to your door, to avoid travelling to a testing site.
Are Covid test centres open on Sunday?
Many private testing clinics operate 7 days per week, but opening times may vary depending on your location and chosen provider.
Are Covid test centres safe?
Test centres are designed to adhere to strict safety measures agreed in advance with clinical oversight.
All staff working in test centres should be wearing full PPE and the layouts of the centres have been carefully designed to ensure visitors and staff can move around safely and prevent the spread of the virus.
What does my Covid test result mean?
Test results and definitions may vary between laboratories so always request a list of definitions from your chosen provider.
However, PCR tests for Covid-19 are usually returned with one of four different results, or variations thereof, which you can find in the definitions below.
To find out what the specific wording of your test result means, please contact your chosen provider.
What is a Positive test result?
‘Positive’ or ‘Detected’ means that Covid-19 has been detected in your sample and you must isolate immediately.
You will not be permitted to travel and your chosen provider is required to report your Positive result to Public Health England. NHS Test and Trace will then contact you to advise you and gain details of anyone you have been in close contact with.
If you test Positive, your chosen provider will be able to advise you of the steps you must take.
What is a Negative test result?
'Negative' or 'Not Detected' means that Covid-19 has not been detected in your sample and you are able to travel.
What is an Inconclusive test result?
'Inconclusive' means that the test was not able to yield a satisfactory result, often because there wasn’t enough genetic material present to process the sample - you will need to take another test to get a conclusive result.
What does a Void or Rejected test result mean?
'Rejected', sometimes referred to as 'Void' or 'Could not be read', means that the sample wasn’t tested and was rejected upon arrival at the testing laboratory, for example because it leaked in transit or was faulty.
You will need to take another test to get a conclusive result. Ask your provider for details about what you should do next.
When will my Covid test result be ready?
Turnaround times vary from same day results to 72 hour processing, with pricing varying accordingly. It’s vital that you confirm with your provider before booking that you are booking a service that means your result will be issued within a suitable time frame for your needs.
What does 'turnaround time' mean?
The turnaround time of your Covid test often refers to the time between the sample arriving at the testing laboratory and you receiving your results. Therefore, if the timing of your results is important - for example if you are booking a Fit to Fly test - make sure you select a provider who can meet the turnaround time you need.
Be aware that potential delays to postal services might mean that an in-clinic appointment may provide peace of mind if time is of the essence.
Are Covid test results sent out 24/7?
Reporting times will vary between providers. Some providers operate on a 24/7 basis and are therefore able to report results most hours of the day. Others only operate standard office hours and will report results accordingly.
Ensure you check opening times and terms for each provider to find out what will work best for you.
Can Covid test results be sent on a Sunday?
When results are released will depend on each provider's opening times. Some labs are open seven days a week. In some cases it is possible for results to be released on a Sunday, so please check the processing times of your chosen provider.
How do I take a Covid-19 PCR test?
Your testing provider will share test instructions along with your swab kit. This will usually involve instructions on how to take your test as well as details about how to return your sample to the testing laboratory.
It’s important that you follow instructions for the individual swab kit allocated so, for more information, please contact your chosen testing provider.
For in-person tests, a clinician will either take your test for you or instruct you in what to do.
What is the Covid test procedure?
Covid swabbing procedures may vary depending on how and where they are being administered. You can either visit a local testing centre or clinic, or order a home test kit. Some providers offer online consultations to support you as you self-swab at home.
The sample will be taken using either a nose and/or throat swab and will then be sent to a laboratory where it will be processed.
What is included in my Covid-19 test kit?
A Covid-19 PCR sampling kit will usually contain a swab and a tube containing fluid for the sample to be enclosed in during transit.
If you decide to purchase a home test kit, you will also likely receive swabbing instructions, a consent or personal information form, two sealable plastic bags and one rigid cardboard layer (in order to return the sample in accordance with UN3373 packaging), as well as a pre-paid postage label.
This might vary depending on your chosen provider so please speak to them directly for further details.
Do children need to take a Covid test to travel?
For international arrivals from outside the Common Travel Area, children under 11 do not need to take a test in order to be allowed into the country.
However, children aged four and over will be required to take Day 2 or Day 8 Test.
This means that children between the ages of 4 and 11 won’t need to take a test before arriving in England, but will need to book an Arrivals Package. These rules are different for those travelling to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
If you are leaving the UK, please check the age requirements of the country you are travelling to.
Do I need to self-isolate or quarantine?
If you are travelling to England from a Green country, you will not need to self-isolate.
If you are travelling from an Amber country, you will need to self-isolate for 10 days in a single location of your choosing. You can shorten this quarantine by taking a Test to Release (also called a Day 5) test.
If you are travelling from a country on the Red list you will need to book a managed quarantine package through the government provider.
Can I change quarantine or self-isolation locations?
You must quarantine in the same place for your full quarantine period and are not permitted to change locations. Permitted quarantine locations include your own home, a friend or family home or a hotel or other temporary accommodation other than a managed quarantine hotel.
Your quarantine location must be the same as provided on your Passenger Locator Form.
Are PCR tests painful?
Covid-19 sampling shouldn’t be painful and is relatively quick. Most Covid-19 tests involve a combined throat and nose swab to take a sample. This can lead to gagging in some people and may feel mildly uncomfortable, however, any discomfort caused by the swabbing is momentary. If you find that the procedure hurts, you should tell the clinician performing the procedure straight away.
Are PCR tests safe?
Yes, PCR tests are safe, however the swabbing process can be uncomfortable for some.
Will my Covid test work if I'm asymptomatic?
PCR tests are able to detect Covid-19 even when the person being tested does not present symptoms.
Can a Covid test result be a false negative?
A false negative result is when a person who should have tested positive for Covid is given a negative result. The probability of this happening will depend on the sensitivity of the test used, as well as external factors to do with sampling, for example.
PCR tests are widely considered to have a sensitivity of at least 95%. Although there is a lack of concrete studies, rapid antigen tests are thought to have a much lower sensitivity, which means the risk of getting a false negative result could be much higher.
Are PCR tests accurate?
PCR tests are considered to be the gold standard for the detection of SARS-CoV-2. The accuracy of a PCR test is measured by two factors: Sensitivity and Specificity.
- Sensitivity measures how often a positive result is detected for people who have the virus.
- Specificity measures the test’s ability to generate a negative result for people who do not have Covid.
For example, a test with 90% specificity will provide a negative test result to 90% of people who did not have the virus. The sensitivity of a test can be affected by a number of factors such as the assay used by the laboratory, the limit of detection used, the viral load within the sample, and the sample collection technique.
RT-PCR test assays are widely considered to have both a specificity and sensitivity greater than 95%.
Which PCR test is most accurate?
Laboratories use different methods to target parts of the virus' genome, however, all providers added to our listings have met the government’s minimum standards for providers of Day 2 & 8 Testing, Test to Release for international travel, or General Covid-19 testing (the Declaration), and may appear on either a single government list or a combination of lists.