All travellers entering the UK must now carry out a PCR test on or before day two after their arrival and self isolate until they receive a negative result. The day of arrival is counted as Day 0.
Previously, it was possible to take a cheaper lateral flow test instead.
PCR test results normally take at least 24, and sometimes more than 48 hours to come back after the kit has been received by the laboratory, a fact which could interfere with UK holiday or work plans.
Several Connexion readers have reported that they are now reconsidering trips to the country, although others have suggested that travellers may get quicker test results – and so escape quarantine earlier – at in-person or drive-thru test centres.
To make things more convenient for passengers, these in-person centres can often be found at airports or stations, and can normally be taken as soon as you arrive in the country.
These facilities often promise next-day results.
Please note that tests will always need to be booked in advance so that you can complete your passenger locator form in advance of travelling to the UK.
There are several test centres dotted around Heathrow Airport, including ExpressTest services in the arrivals area of Terminals 2 and 5.
These centres are open from 07:00 until 20:00 and offer results by 22:00 the next day.
Birmingham Airport also has an ExpressTest centre open from 08:00 until 20:00, and results can be expected at 22:00 the day after you take the test.
This means that you would only have to self-isolate for the remainder of your arrival day and the following day.
Gatwick Airport has both a walk-through and a drive-thru ExpressTest centre, the former located in North Terminal, the latter on Perimeter Road South.
Tests must be pre-booked and results can again be expected by 22:00 the next day.
People travelling to Gatwick may be able to get a discount on their day two PCR. Further details are available on the airport website, where you can also consult a list of test centres located nearby.
There is also a private testing centre at Boots in South Terminal, where passengers can get their travel tests provided that they book in advance.
Edinburgh Airport has an ExpressTest centre open from 08:00 until 20:00. The airport website states that although ExpressTest aims to deliver results by 22:00 the next day, they could take up to 48 hours to arrive.
London Luton Airport
London Luton has a drive-thru testing service in its Mid Stay car park which is open from 08:30 until 16:45. There is also a walk-through centre inside the terminal building which is open from 05:00 until 18:45.
However, the airport website states that results are only available within 48 hours after the test arrives at the lab, which may take up to 24 hours or longer over the festive period. In this case, carrying out a day two test at the airport may not be the best option.
Manchester Airport has a Collinson drive-thru test centre located at Runger Lane and a walk-through service in the airport station. Both are open from 07:00 until 19:00 except on Christmas Day.
There is also a Randox testing drive-thru at JetParks Ringway and a walk-through centre at Terminal 2. Both are open from 07:00 until 19:00.
London Stansted Airport
Like Manchester, Stansted has both Collinson and Randox testing services, which are open from 07:00 until 19:00 each day.
The Collinson drive-thru is located at JetParks T&P, while the Randox drive-thru is at JetParks R&X.
The Collinson walk-through is in the arrivals lounge while the Randox service is in Short Stay Yellow.
Glasgow Airport has a drive-thru test centre at Terminal 2 and results are generally delivered within 24 hours. However, there is a more expensive option to shorten this wait to just 12 hours.
The same applies to the walk-through service found inside the airport.
Liverpool Airport has a TAG test centre in the check-in area which offers results within 24 hours. The centre is open Monday to Saturday 09:00 until 17:00 and Sunday from 10:00 until 16:00.
Cardiff Airport’s on-site Nuffield Health Covid testing centre is located on the first floor of the terminal, opposite Caffi Cwtch. It is open Monday to Friday 09:30–17:00 and Saturday 11:00–15:00.
Belfast International and City Airports
Belfast’s airports have Randox testing facilities offering results by 23:59 the following day. It is open from 08:00, although closing times vary depending on the day and location.
Leeds Bradford Airport
Leeds Airport has a test centre in the Viking Airport Parking car park run by NPH Group, with results available within 36-48 hours.
According to the airport website, the centre is open from 08:00 until 18:00, 07:00 until 16:00 on Saturdays and 08:00 until 15:00 on Sundays.
Newcastle Airport also has an NPH test centre open from 08:00 until 20:00. On Sundays the timings may vary, and on Saturdays the centre is open from 07:00 until 16:00 according to the booking form.
Passengers can expect their results by the next day.
St Pancras Station
There are several test centres located close to St Pancras Station, all listed on the Eurostar website.
London Medical Laboratory, which is five minutes’ walk from the station, offers next-day PCR test results.
There is also a Collinson test centre inside the station at Unit 56, open from 07:30 until 21:00 according to the booking form.
Eurostar travellers can get discounts by using certain codes.
There is no clear evidence of PCR test centres being available at UK ports, but walk-through centres can be found in the town centres of Dover, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton and Newcastle, some of which offer same-day results.
Outside of airports and stations, you will also find walk-through test centres in most UK cities, located in central areas such as Manchester’s Arndale, Bristol’s Cabot Circus or London’s Westfield shopping centres.
Please note that airport test centres can be more expensive than home kits.