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).

Be sure to check that your destination country is allowing flights from the UK before you make travel plans and spend money on a fit to fly test.

COVID testing clinics in London

CompanyLocationTurnaround timeCostSample typeDiagnostic testHome visit optionCustom requestsNotes
Better2KnowAt-home test24 hours + postage time£199Throat swabPCR
Chelsea MedicsChelsea72 hours PCR YES
CityDocLondon
(multiple)
24–48 hours£150Saliva or NasopharyngealPCR NOReduced service at weekends
Corona Test CentreHammersmith,
Fulham
24 & 48 hours guaranteed£149NasopharyngealPCR YES
DoctapLondon
(multiple)
Up to 70 hours£129 for cert.NasopharyngealPCR YES
DoctorcallLondon,
Manchester
48 hours£99Throat swabPCRYES
Fleet Street ClinicFleet StreetSame day/
24 hours
£495NasopharyngealPCR YES
Collinson GroupO2 arena + airports90 minutes£82.5SalivaLAMP Be sure to allow extra time, turnaround not guarenteed
London Doctors ClinicChelsea,
Covent Garden
48 hours£99 LondonNasopharyngealPCRNO
Medical Express ClinicMarylebone24 hours£195 + £50 for cert.NasopharyngealPCRYES
Pheonix Hospital GroupMarylebone24 hours£240NasopharyngealPCR YES
Private Harley Street ClinicLondon
(multiple)
20-48 hours£250NasopharyngealPCR YES
London General PracticeMarylebone24-48 hours£315NasopharyngealPCR
Walk-in ClinicLondon
(multiple)
48-72 hours£165NasopharyngealPCR YES
Wren HealthcareChiswickNext day£139Throat swab (nasopharyngeal on request)PCRYES 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.

Departures board during early Covid-19 - fit to fly covid certificate in london
Back in March when it all began | Photo by Chris Kirkland

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.
A quiet Heathrow on a mid-November afternoon. | Photo by Chris Kirkland

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.

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Filed under: Lifestyle

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