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Fully vaccinated travellers to England and Wales can save £20 using day two lateral flows tests that will shortly replace PCR tests

The Government has today released its approved list of private testing providers that will offer day two lateral flow tests for fully vaccinated travellers to England and Wales. Travellers will be able to save £20 using lateral flow tests compared to pricier PCRs.  

From 4am on Sunday 24 October, fully vaccinated travellers entering England from non-red list destinations will be able to take a day two lateral flow test instead of a more expensive PCR test. The same policy will go live in Wales the following Sunday, 31 October. The idea is to make it cheaper and easier for families to go abroad during October half-term. 

The Scottish Government has said it will also follow suit, although the detail is still being developed and an exact start date has yet to be announced. The Northern Irish Government is yet to commit to the switch to using lateral flow tests. This means the current system still stands for those travelling to these countries. 

Lateral flow tests provided for free by the NHS cannot be used for international travel so you must pay for a test. Based on the list of providers announced today, Testing for All is the cheapest lateral flow provider charging a single returning traveller £19 for a home testing kit. Another five firms provide lateral flow tests for under £30. In comparison, the cheapest day two PCR test costs £39 from Eurofins - £20 more. 

For full help see our Cheap Tests guide, which will be updated as more testing providers are added to the Government's approved list.

You can take a picture of your lateral flow test result from Sunday

Another shake-up from Sunday is that travellers to England and Wales can now take a photo of the result of their lateral flow test, as well as the booking reference supplied by the testing company, and send it back to the provider to verify the result. This means they'll no longer need to visit a drop box, clinic or arrange to post their tests in order to find out the result.   

Some passengers will also be able to take the lateral flow test when they arrive at some UK airports, although the Government is yet to release more info on exactly how this will work in practice. 

PCRs tests are still needed for some

Anyone who tests positive when taking their lateral flow test will need to self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test. These PCR tests can be accessed free of charge by ordering in the usual way through NHS Test and Trace. This can be done via the NHS website or by calling 119. 

Passengers who are not fully vaccinated and are returning from a non red-list destination must still take a pre-departure test, a PCR test on day two and day eight, as well as completing 10 days of self-isolation. Travellers to England can, however, opt to use the Test to Release scheme on day five, paying privately for a PCR test in order to end the 10 days of self-isolation early if they get a negative result.

Anyone returning from a red list destination will still need to go into managed quarantine and take various PCR tests. For more information, see our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide.

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