With testing on return to the UK becoming mandatory again, we wanted to do the legwork for you and investigate where you can find cheap PCR tests.

That’s right, just when we thought we’d waved goodbye to the onerous traffic light system and were clawing ourselves clear of the Coronavirus woods, the infection has fought back with a new variant.

The UK government has responded to reports that the new Omicron variant has arrived on these shores by increasing the nation’s COVID measures. But what are these new actions and how do they affect travel?


New measures explained

Boris Johnson announced recently that, as a result of the growing threat of new COVID variants, face masks will once again be required in shops and on public transport from 4am on 30 November.

But the new measures didn’t end there. The Prime Minister also confirmed the changes would affect the travel industry too. As of that 4am deadline on Tuesday people returning to the UK, vaccinated or not, will need to take a PCR test on or before day 2 of arrival. Lateral Flow Tests will no longer be an acceptable form of entry.

Vaccinated travellers and children aged 5 – 17 must complete a test on or before day two of their arrival in the UK. However, unvaccinated travellers must complete an additional test on day 8 too. Children under the age of 4 are still not required to test for travel.

Passengers must also self-isolate immediately until receiving a negative test result. Meaning unvaxxed passengers will have to isolate until at least after day 8 when their results are returned.

This new announcement has caused ripples of discontent within the travel industry after, yet another, brief easing of travel restrictions seems to have come to an abrupt end. But now that testing is mandatory again for entering the UK, where can you find acceptable cheap PCR tests?

Four cartoon faces wearing masks

Masks have returned as a requirement when entering shops and public transport


Cheaper tests

Over the last 18 months, many have seen expensive PCR tests as a barrier to travel. Some would-be passengers have even reported pricey testing adding upwards of £1,000 to their overall trip cost.

So, with these fresh updates in mind, we wanted to investigate where you can get reliable, yet cheap, PCR tests.

Generally, we’re finding that, after taking into account elements like petrol etc, getting a test delivered to your home is probably the most cost-effective way to complete the checks.

The COVID Testing Network is generally a good place to start when it comes to getting more info in one place. From comparing prices to booking tests this site brings all the options together for you.

Away from that comparison site approach, though, let’s take a look at the most inexpensive options when it comes to booking your day 2 test. We’ve also included a list of cheaper package options for unvaccinated travellers looking to complete their days 2 and 8 tests – more on those shortly.

Cabin crew wear masks on an aeroplane

There are new rules around testing for travel


Cheapest day 2 tests

We’ve detailed below a handy guide to some of the cheapest PCR tests on the market at the moment, from reliable government-approved sources.

Test producer

Cheapest test type Cost Results back
Randox At home test – Select Click & Collect £34.99 By 11:59pm next day
Covid Travel Clinics At home test £35.00 Within 24 hours of lab receiving sample
Eurofins Testing station £38.90 36-48hrs from time of testing on-site
Randox At home test – Delivered £48.00 By 11:59 next day
Testing for all At home test £48.00 Within 48 hours of lab receiving sample
Test ‘n’ go At home test £50.00 Within 24 hours of lab receiving sample
Eurofins At home test £54.90 Within 24 hours of lab receiving sample
Randox In-clinic test £55.00 By 11:59pm next day
Test ‘n’ go At home test – Express results £60.00 Within 12 hours of lab receiving sample
Project Screen by Prenetics At home test £64.00 Within 24 hours of lab receiving sample
Qured At home test £64.00 Within 24 hours of lab receiving sample
CityDoc At home test £65.00 Within 48 hours of lab receiving sample
Express Test Testing station £69.00

By 10pm the next day


Cheapest day 2 & 8 test packages

As we said above, unvaccinated travellers are required to complete a test on day two and day eight of their isolation. Their quarantine period can end once a negative result is returned on the back of that second test.

This double-test approach can also begin to drive the price of holidaying up. However, some companies have started to band the two tests together into packages. Below are examples of some of the cheapest suppliers of day two & eight testing kits.

Test producer Cheapest test type Cost Results back
Covid Travel Clinics At home test £60.00 Within 24 hours of lab receiving sample
Randox At home test – Click & collect £69.98 By 11:59pm next day
Eurofins Testing station – Drive through £79.90 12-36hrs from time of testing on-site
Testing for all At home test £89.00 Within 48 hours of lab receiving sample
Randox At home test – Delivered £96.00 By 11:59pm next day
Eurofins At home test £98.90 No info available
Test ‘n’ go At home test £100.00 Within 24 hours of lab receiving sample
Test ‘n’ go At home test – Express results £120.00 Within 12 hours of lab receiving sample
Express Test Testing station £129.00 By 10pm the next day
Express Test At home test £129.00 Within 24 hours of lab receiving sample
CityDoc At home test £130.00 Within 48 hours of lab receiving sample
Boots At home test £136.00 24-48hrs from lab receiving sample

Conclusion

After many of us dared to dream that we’d maybe seen an end to the COVID pandemic, these latest setbacks will come as something of a pre-Christmas frustration.

However, as we can see, cheap PCR test options are coming further into view and watchdogs are pressurizing the government to do more when it comes to regulating the cost of testing. So it may be that travellers won’t have to wait much longer for even more affordable testing options.