Costs fall to just £45.00
The cost of PCR testing for international travel in the UK just a few weeks ago was double that of testing in other European countries, according to analysis at the time by Abta and the Airport Operators Association. The lobby groups said a UK pre-departure PCR test cost, on average, £128.00 per person, while the average pre-departure test cost across eight key destinations only comes to just under £62.00. At present, all non-essential overseas travel is banned while those travelling for crucial reasons such as visiting a sick relative must quarantine for up to ten days upon return – this situation coould change in two weeks time.
At the time, industry criticism of the government’s Global Travel Taskforce report focused on the high price of PCR tests required even of arrivals from countries listed ‘green’ under the proposed traffic light system, with PCR tests potentially costing a family of four returning from a green list country about £600.
According to to Abta PCR prices varied from £60 to above £200 but averaged £128, double the price in parts of Europe where the EU has agreed the tests can be zero-rated for VAT and some EU governments also cap the cost. There was therefore pressure for the UK government to do the same, and for the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate pricing.
The pressure led transport secretary Grant Shapps to acknowledge PCR tests cost too much in the UK and pledge: “The cost should be cheaper. I’ll be driving that down. I won’t spare companies that seem to be profiteering, including removing them from the recommended list of test providers”.
Delivering on his promise, Shapps has now announced, as international travel is set to possibly return in mid-May, that some PCR Covid tests for travel have fallen in price to under £45. Speaking in parliament on 29 April, he said “I know that the House is interested on the update with regard to travel returning internationally and I wanted to provide a very quick update to say that although PCR tests may be required from a medical, scientific point of view, we have been working with private laboratories, pharmacies, supermarkets and other companies to encourage them to deliver on their logistical expertise and enter the market and drive down the cost”.
He added: “We’ve seen some success so far because the cost of a single PCR day two test now has come down to £60 from one of the large providers on the government-linked site with a new entrant now at £44.90, enabling more people to access PCR tests as international travel returns.” He did not mention which provider was offering this price, but research by The Independent’s revealed that it was Eurofins Covid Testing Services Ltd (ECTS).
The Travel Network Group, which counts more than 900 independent travel agents among its members, recently announced it had made a deal with ECTS so that customers who booked through member agents could secure a PCR test for £44.90.
At the same time the UK’s largest Covid-19 PCR testing provider has almost halved the cost to support travel to £60 per test. The company, Randox, said it was responding after transport secretary Grant Shapps called for the cost of PCR tests for international travel to be driven down.
“In order to achieve the £60 price, which is limited to those undertaking international travel, purchasers will need to apply a discount code which can initially be obtained from airlines when booking travel,” Randox said. The £60 charge is based on a PCR testing kit ordered online for home sample collection with the sample returned to the laboratory for testing. The cost is inclusive of VAT and logistics.
Thanks to Jaime for a lot of the links to this story.
A new tab has been added to the top of each page with a link to resources dealing with COVID-19 in Madeira – this covers the latest government regulations on travel to the island, how to get a PCR test, and many other links that will be useful to people wanting to travel to and from Madeira.
COVID-19 in Madeira: daily updates can be found on an earlier post.
Vaccinations in Madeira: previous updates can be found on an earlier post.