Reader question: I am planning to travel from France to the UK by ferry. What Covid testing options are there for me for pre-departure tests and tests on arrival at ports? I read that airports have special arrangements
New UK Covid rules mean that fully vaccinated travellers aged 12 and over must take a Covid test (PCR or rapid antigen / lateral flow) before they travel to the UK from abroad, and then they must also take a PCR test on or before day two after arriving.
This second test must be booked in advance with the reference number added to the travellers’ passenger locator form.
The rules also stipulate that travellers must self-isolate in the UK until they receive the results of this second test, prompting many to search options with fast results.
Read more: New Omicron variant: PCR and isolation for arrivals to UK from France
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. For this reason, some travellers may prefer in-person or drive-thru test centres, in order to get quicker results and potentially shorten the isolation period.
You can read more about where to find these test centres in our article here: UK day two Covid test: Are results faster if I use in-person centre?
You can also see more information on booking a Covid test in the UK on the government’s website here. Additionally, the website Covid Testing Network allows you to compare Covid test prices in the UK.
These test centres are, however, often located near airports, train stations and not at ports. There are, though, walk-through centres in the town centres of Dover, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton and Newcastle, some of which offer same-day results.
A member of staff at the Port of Dover confirmed to The Connexion that there are no testing facilities at the port.
However, both P&O Ferries and Brittany Ferries offer deals on Covid tests, which can be bought when purchasing ferry tickets.
Brittany Ferries is partnering with Randox to offer discounts on both pre-departure Covid tests and ‘day 2’ tests. The offer is, though, only available to people based in the UK. You can find out more about this service on the Brittany Ferries website here.
P&O Ferries has partnered with various testing providers to offer discounts on pre-departure and day 2 tests as well. You can find out more about the service here.
Additionally, customers on P&O Ferries’ Hull to Rotterdam route can get rapid antigen / lateral flow tests at the port of Hull.
The tests cost £34.80 (this includes VAT) and are available until December 31, 2021.
As for getting a Covid test in France, the easiest way is to go to sante.fr and find any place - be it a pharmacy, centre or nurses’ cabinet - that offers Covid tests and is near to the port you are using.
You can read more about that here: How can I get a Covid test in France?
Remember too that if you are later travelling back to France you will need to take a third test (under French rules) before leaving the UK.
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