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). Also with a recent government crackdown on infalted pricing of private PCR tests, prices have dropped to more wallet friendly levels.

If travelling to one of the test sites is inconvenient, you’ll be pleased to know many of the providers now offer “self administered” tests – they’ll post you a kit, book a video call with you to surpervise your self test and email you your certificate once they’ve received your swab back and processed the result.

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.

How Much Does a Fit To Fly Test Cost?

In the early days of the pandemic some people where being charged up to £2,000.00 for a PCR test, but thankfully prices have come down to more sensible levels, and a Fit to Fly tests in the UK will generally be in the range of £70.00 to £200.00. You can likely shave 10%-20% off the cost of your test by looking for a discount code before you book – more on that below.

COVID testing clinics in London

CompanyLocationTurnaround timeCostSample typeDiagnostic testHome visit optionCustom requestsNotes
Better2KnowAt-home test24 hours + postage time£99Throat swabPCR
Chelsea MedicsChelsea72 hours PCR YES
24–48 hours£125Saliva or NasopharyngealPCR NOReduced service at weekends
Corona Test CentreHammersmith,
24 & 48 hours guaranteed£129NasopharyngealPCR YES
Up to 70 hours£129 for cert.NasopharyngealPCR YES
48 hours£99Throat swabPCRYES
Fleet Street ClinicFleet Street2-5 hours£395NasopharyngealPCR YES
Collinson GroupO2 arena + airports90 minutes£82.5SalivaLAMP Reccommend for flights to HK and Japan
London Doctors ClinicChelsea,
Covent Garden
48 hours£99 LondonNasopharyngealPCRNO
Medical Express ClinicMarylebone24 hours£199NasopharyngealPCRYES
Pheonix Hospital GroupMarylebone24 hours£99NasopharyngealPCR YES
Private Harley Street ClinicLondon
24-48 hours£175NasopharyngealPCR YES
London General PracticeMarylebone24-48 hours£195NasopharyngealPCR
Walk-in ClinicLondon
6pm next day£99NasopharyngealPCR 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?

Test Type – PCR VS Anitgen VS LAMP

As mentioned above you’ll need to check carefully with your destination country’s testing requirements. Usually the PCR test is the higher accuracy gold standard, so if you’re not sure this is likely the test type required (and most widely offered). PCR testing usually takes longer to process than LAMP and Antigen tests, but many of the Fit-to-fly test providers offer quick turnarounds.

Test Sampling Method

In some cases (notably Japan) you may need to check the testing method meets your destination country’s requirements.

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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