How to book that Day 2 test from France to the UK

Arrivals into the UK must pay for a Day 2 Covid test.
Arrivals into the UK must pay for a Day 2 Covid test. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP
The UK government has tightened up travel rules around the Day 2 test, here's what you need to know if you have a trip planned.

Since the summer, travellers from France to the UK have had to take a ‘day 2’ test on arrival. However from 4am on Tuesday, November 30th this must again be a PCR tests and everyone – even fully vaccinated travellers and UK citizens and residents – must quarantine until they get a negative result from their Day 2 test.

READ ALSO New rules: Everything you need to know about travel between France and the UK

While broadly similar, Covid-19 travel, quarantine and testing rules are slightly different if you’re heading to Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland

What it means

All passengers, including children, have to take a test on or before ‘Day Two’ after their arrival in England. But – crucially – this Day Two test must be booked before you leave France.

The passenger locator form, required for all arrivals into England, cannot be completed without a reference number from a test, booked through one of the UK government’s approved list of suppliers.

Fully vaccinated travellers must self-isolate until their negative test result arrives, but this can be done at home or with family or friends. The test must be taken “on or before” day 2, so it is OK to take it as soon as you arrive in the UK.

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Unvaccinated travellers must quarantine for 10 full days and take another test on or before Day Eight of their stay.

It is important to note that for test and quarantine purposes, the day of arrival is counted as Day Zero. The following day is Day One, the day after that Day Two, and so on.

Proof of purchase of the second test must be included on the passenger locator form, which everyone over age 18 must complete and submit within the 48 hours before they travel. Anyone who fails to take this Day Two test faces a fine of up to £2,000.

How to book a test

Tests must be booked from a company on the government’s list of test providers in England and Northern Ireland here.

From November 30th

The test must be a PCR test, antigen tests are no longer accepted. Arrivals must self-isolate util the test result arrives, which may be after Day 2. If the test result never arrives, you must self isolate for two weeks.

Companies

The world of Day 2 testing is an infuriating one.

You’ll find the companies offer packages depending on the status of the country you are travelling from, even though the tests are the same. Some companies confusingly list products only for “UK vaccinated”.

Some we found appear to have minimum spends so even if you find a cheap test you can’t buy it, while others seem cheap, but once you get through the final ordering stage extra charges bump up the total.

The UK government says that it does not endorse companies on its list, and some firms have been removed for failing to provide a reasonable standard of service. However, many remain on the list despite being the subject of multiple complaints.

You also have to book individually for each passenger who requires a test – so if you’re travelling as a family of four you will have to go through the booking process four times.

Compare this to France, which does not require vaccinated travellers to take a test either before or after arrival. Tourists in France are changed a flat rate €22 for an antigen test and €44 for a PCR. Travel tests are free for vaccinated residents and can be accessed by simply popping into the local pharmacy or booking online with a medical lab.

In short for anyone used to the efficient testing system in France (particularly at pharmacies), the UK set up will appear completely bonkers.

Short stays

So, what if you’re staying in the UK for less than two days? You still need the Day 2 test, because the passenger locator form cannot be completed without the booking reference, and you cannot enter England without the form.

You are, however, permitted to leave self-isolation to travel to the port/airport/station to leave the UK.

Fully vaccinated

Also be aware that the UK government’s definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ is not the same as the French government’s.

You need to have been vaccinated with a UK approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson – and be at least 14 days from your final dose.

After much confusion, the UK has finally agreed to recognise as vaccinated people who had a ‘mixed dose’ – ie one AstraZeneca and one Pfizer.

But while in France, people who previously had Covid are counted as fully vaccinated after a single dose of the vaccine, this is not the case in the UK

READ ALSO I had Covid and a single vaccine dose in France – what are my travel options?


Member comments

  1. I am working on a cruise ship later this month. I’ll leave on the ship from Southampton the day after I arrive from France, and return to France the day after it gets back to Southampton – in other words, I leave before Day 2 on both occasions. So do I have to pay for two separate tests I won’t use? Add to that the cruise ship will test me before they let me on board…. Confused.

  2. I booked my day 2 test earlier today with Zoom. One of the first few on gov list. 30 pounds (20 but 10 extra for free return deliver from any postbox). Simple and straightforward and the booking code accepted on passenger locator form. Travelling with an under 18 year old from France to England and didn’t need a test for him.

  3. I am traveling to London from Paris on November 5-6 for only 28 hours. Do I really have to pay for a test that I will not have to take? This sounds pretty oppressive.

    1. That’s my understanding…I’m entering and leaving within 48 hours twice later this month so seems I’ll be charged twice. Madness.

  4. “The government is quick to insist it does not endorse one test provider over another – but it does say that it ‘closely monitors’ performance. All private providers of Covid tests are required to meet certain standards. If they fall short they can be removed from official lists.”

    I have requested, through the Freedom of Information Act, for the NHS monitoring data on the private labs (and other data). I will report the data provided to The Local as soon as received.

  5. I was back in the UK for two days last week. There is no way that the UK Gov can verify that you have actually done the day two test, other than that you have to have completed a valid number on your passenger locator form. However, be aware, although I had already returned to France, I received a phone call from NHS track and trace on day 5 telling me I was a contact case because of the inbound flight and must self isolate for 12 days from arrival in the UK, irrespective of whether the day two test comes back negative or not. Expert Medical, day two test in the post £28, no issues.

    1. The UK govt has not been joining the dots at all – they have no idea what your results are or if you really did them or the lab, they just know if you paid for them…to get the number on the PLF…I looked your company up as the price seemed so reasonable and then also found they are being investigated : ) caveat emptor – they are all a bunch of profiteering chancers…I’ve been reporting several of them since March ’21 and only recently are they actually investigating – the ridiculously random 24th date is to please school holidaymakers and the govt’s core voters and to allow these labs to make even more money given the announcement of lateral tests to come was a month ago… aherm. Yours cynically…

      https://www.gov.uk/cma-cases/pcr-travel-tests

  6. Don’t be put off traveling if fully vacinated.
    We’ve travelled from France to UK under the Day 2 regime twice and booked PCR tests direct with Randox.
    You can buy multiple tests in one order and you get a seperate reference code for each to include on the passenger locator form.
    Cost £48 ea without discount code £43 ea if you click and collect at the time of writing.
    We did the home pcr test early on day 2 and then drop off at a randox collection point before 4 p.m.
    Every time we’ve had txt confirmation of receipt at the lab (in N.I.) by the next morning (often by 3 a.m.) and the results later that same day by email.
    Whilst this price is more expensive compare to France it’s not too much more and nothing like some of the rip-off companies out there (most of whom use Randox for testing labs anyway)
    So don’t be too put off.
    What is annoying is that the UK has the nerve to demand tests when the infection rate is far higher than France!

  7. Need to go to England for a funeral. Will arrive and depart the same day and funeral does not appear to be near any testing sites. Does anyone have any experience of day 2 tests being sent to a relative, arriving on day 1 (after our return to france) and being returned unused to testing provider with a note to say no longer in uk. I do not want to cause any problems for relatives or for potential future visits.

  8. Don’t know if you were looking to the future, as we’re nearly a month on from your query, but yes, fine to get into UK from France with antigen test, it’s the day 2 test which has been the problem here. They have created a never ending muddle. Even when they say one thing they add “but we prefer you to…” do the other.
    If one former tory MP can call the PM a charlatan then I’ll endorse that.

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