There are numerous options for getting a ‘fit for travel’ or ‘fit to fly’ COVID test certificate in London—and the tests are becoming faster and more streamlined. There’s even a 1-hour turnaround test at Heathrow Airport, although it’s currently available only for people flying to Hong Kong.
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||£245||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||£175||Nasopharyngeal||PCR||YES|
|Up to 70 hours||£134 + £5 for cert.||Nasopharyngeal||PCR||YES|
|48 hours||£149||Throat swab||PCR||YES|
|Fleet Street Clinic||Fleet Street||Same day/|
Terminals 2 & 5
|1 hour||£80||Saliva||LAMP||Only available for Hong Kong flights|
|London Doctors Clinic||Chelsea,|
|5–7 days (3 days London)||£214 London,|
|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||24 & 48 hours||£145||Throat swab (nasopharyngeal on request)||PCR||Suspended during lockdown||Weekdays only|
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 can legally travel to medical appointments in the UK during the lockdown. People using public transport must observe the latest safety guidelines (wearing a mask, etc.).
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.
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.