PCR testing: What does it mean for my holiday?

  • Published: 16 Oct 2020
  • Author: David Ward

As we know only too well, with Coronavirus infection rates rising and falling in different regions and advice changing on an almost-weekly basis, it’s tough to commit to firm travel plans at the moment. 

One way some countries are overcoming the uncertainty is with the introduction of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing, allowing travellers to provide a negative Covid-19 test, usually around 72 hours before departure. These tests are now a requirement for travel to several destinations which, along with their exemption from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (FCDO) blanket advice against all but essential travel, has given them quarantine-free status in both directions.

As such, the term PCR testing is likely to be become synonymous with travel, at least in the short term. Here we take a look at what a PCR test actually is, what it means for your holiday and, of course, how you go about getting one. 

What is a PCR test?

A PCR test is used to detect Coronavirus (Covid-19) in your body through the presence of the virus’s genetic material, or RNA. The test itself is carried out either at home or a clinic via a swab sample of your nose and throat, with results usually back within 24 hours. Same-day services are also available but, of course, cost a bit more.

Do I need a PCR test?

Not all destinations require a PCR test and those that do often have varying timeframes for when results need to be provided. What’s more, entry requirements can and do change, so for the most up-to-date information, we recommend visiting the FCDO website

How much does a PCR test cost?

Typically, a PCR test costs between £120 and £200 per person, or more if you require a same-day service from a private clinic. Travellers will NOT be able to attain a PCR test via the NHS.

Where can I get a PCR test?

We are pleased to be able to offer two options to our clients for pre-travel PCR testing – one a ‘test at home’ option and the other at a clinic at London Heathrow. These are:

Test at home with Confirm Testing

Confirm Testing offers a self-service PCR test, which you can conduct yourself at home. Simply visit their website to book online and they’ll send a testing kit to your address. You then just post the swab back to them and wait for your results, which are usually emailed to you within 24 hours of the them receiving the test sample. We’ve negotiated a special rate starting at £109 person, simply click the link below and the discount code BSS10 will automatically be added when you book your test.

Book online here

Please note that some destinations may not accept some types of home sampling/testing so please check the requirements carefully at the Foreign Office website for your destination here. Also care must be taken to ensure there is sufficient time for the test swab to be sent in the post, particularly over weekends and the festive season.

Test at London Heathrow with DiamondAir

DiamondAir, offers a range of PCR pre-travel COVID-19 test options for clients who are able to attend a clinic at London Heathrow Airport prior to travel. Tests are conducted at a dedicated facility at the airport, with results being made available in as little as 4-12 hours if using their express service. Prices start at £155 per person for the standard service.

While this option is convenient for anyone living close to London Heathrow, DiamondAir is also able to offer a range of alternative options including home test kits, meet-and-greet services and chauffeur transfers. For example, you’d be able to transfer to the airport for your test, stay overnight at an airport hotel and then collect the results the next day before your flight.

We have negotiated a 5% discount on any COVID-19 test services offered, simply enter the code BSS05 when booking using the link below or quote the same code when calling DiamondAir on 020 8897 9183.

Book online here

Please note, you'll need to book early, especially for travel around Christmas and New Year. 

As the number of testing centres increases around the country you may find more options becoming available in your local area. In all cases please check carefully how quickly results will be delivered by your test provider and what the exact requirements are for your destination at the FCDO website