There are numerous options for getting a ‘fit for travel’ or ‘fit to fly’ COVID test certificate in London and beyond. The tests are becoming faster and more streamlined, there’s even a fast turnaround test at Heathrow Airport (but do allow extra time for this option – it’s independent of any airline so there’s no departure time matching).
COVID testing clinics in London
|Company||Location||Turnaround time||Cost||Sample type||Diagnostic test||Home visit option||Custom requests||Notes|
|Better2Know||At-home test||24 hours + postage time||£199||Throat swab||PCR|
|Chelsea Medics||Chelsea||72 hours||PCR||YES|
|24–48 hours||£150||Saliva or Nasopharyngeal||PCR||NO||Reduced service at weekends|
|Corona Test Centre||Hammersmith,|
|24 & 48 hours guaranteed||£149||Nasopharyngeal||PCR||YES|
|Up to 70 hours||£129 for cert.||Nasopharyngeal||PCR||YES|
|48 hours||£99||Throat swab||PCR||YES|
|Fleet Street Clinic||Fleet Street||Same day/|
|Collinson Group||O2 arena + airports||90 minutes||£82.5||Saliva||LAMP||Be sure to allow extra time, turnaround not guarenteed|
|London Doctors Clinic||Chelsea,|
|48 hours||£99 London||Nasopharyngeal||PCR||NO|
|Medical Express Clinic||Marylebone||24 hours||£195 + £50 for cert.||Nasopharyngeal||PCR||YES|
|Pheonix Hospital Group||Marylebone||24 hours||£240||Nasopharyngeal||PCR||YES|
|Private Harley Street Clinic||London|
|London General Practice||Marylebone||24-48 hours||£315||Nasopharyngeal||PCR|
|Wren Healthcare||Chiswick||Next day||£139||Throat swab (nasopharyngeal on request)||PCR||YES||Home visit from £169|
Getting a Discount On Fit To Fly Covid-19 tests
Covid-19 tests & certificates can be a bit pricey, with the average price still being way over 100 pounds, so saavy Cheapos will of course be on the lookout for a discount coupon. We’ve found airlines to be a good source of discount codes (as well as guidance on current restrictions and proceedures).
For example British Airways has a handy Covid guidelines and test discounts page. Some of the discounts are contingent on showing a boarding pass, so be sure to hold on to your boarding pass slip.
Before booking a ‘fit to fly’ COVID-19 test
Although the turnaround times on tests can be very fast, you need to make sure you can get an appointment. Depending on demand, it can be difficult to book a test at short notice. If you have time, book a week or more in advance to be safe.
Many clinics will have experience with requirements for certain destinations, you must check the specific requirements that you will need need to enter a country and/or board the plane with the relevant embassy and airline.
You’re not allowed to use the NHS testing service for ‘fit for travel” COVID tests. Plus, they may not be sufficient for the border requirements at the destination country anyway.
Some providers also offer self-test kits via post, however you’ll have to be extra careful with timing and allowing for postage time as some destinations are very strict around test timing.
Check the UK foreign office guidance on foreign travel. Current guidelines states you need to arrange a private test for travel.
Clinic checklist: Things to confirm before you book a test
- Does the lab/clinic have the correct accreditation for your requirements (usually UKAS)?
- Do you need an original copy? Many labs give you results digitally only.
- Do you need additional custom forms/information? Some clinics are able to accommodate custom requests.
What types of COVID-19 tests are there?
Nasopharyngeal – This test is where they stick a long swab up your nose. It’s not as bad as it sounds, but may make your eyes water. This test may also include a throat swab. This is the original and most common sampling method for PCR testing in the UK.
Throat swab only – Some places only take throat swab samples. This is a lot easier on the patient, but note it may not be sufficient for some destination countries with rigorous standards (like Japan).
Saliva – This test is where you spit into a tube for the newer rapid LAMP tests (like the 1-hour test at Heathrow Airport).
Top tip: Read our guide on the fastest and cheapest ways to get between central London and Heathrow Airport.