Having recently taken a round trip to England, just before France was taken off the UK’s ‘amber plus’ list, I had to apply for the second and eighth day tests, although I did not. was not in the UK long enough to take the eighth day test.
It costs around £ 150 which is roughly halved for those visiting the UK now that France is listed as an ordinary ‘orange’ country by the UK (unless you are traveling from French territories overseas of Réunion and Mayotte which have gone from amber to red).
Booking your Covid tests in the UK
You must book your second day UK Covid test, prior to departure.
You can find the UK government’s list of testing providers at this link. You can search nationally or by region of the UK.
You have two options: either book in a center that you will visit in person, or book a test to be taken at the place of your stay. The latter option is the most expensive, but probably the most convenient. The list of test providers does not include addresses, so it is not easy to identify if any of them are close to where you will be staying.
I booked with 1stopcovidshop.com which appeared at the top of the list in my search on the government site.
The online process to purchase the Day 2 and Day 8 test kit online was quick and easy. I was able to provide detailed delivery instructions on where to leave the package and it was posted the same day by express delivery service to a relative’s address where I would be staying in the UK. It was delivered by Royal Mail the day after ordering although this could be due to the fact that I ordered in the morning.
In an email received after purchasing the tests, I was asked to note a test reservation reference number. This must be inserted on your UK Passenger Locator form prior to travel (see below).
Take my second day Covid test
The first day after arrival is day zero, so if you are arriving on a Wednesday, the second day is Friday.
I unpacked my “second day” kit, which was in a sealed box separate from the eighth day test, and followed the instructions to take the test.
Slightly unpleasantly, these told me I had to dab my tonsils on both sides until I felt a gag reflex, then insert each nostril until I felt resistance, then rotate the stick five times, which might make me cry …
It was a little uncomfortable but it could have been worse.
I then had to insert the swab stick into a plastic tube with liquid in it, break off the end of the stick, put the cap back on the tube, and put it in a bag provided for return. This then had to be inserted into a prepaid envelope for quick delivery to the lab via Royal Mail.
Before inserting the test into the Royal Mail envelope I was asked to check a barcode number for the test which was on the tube and also on the package the kit arrived in.
The next steps are to save the test online and publish it.
This caused some confusion initially, as these UK government testing guidelines refer to using an official website to register the test. I notice that this official registration site is not working today.
I tried using it but it asked me for details I didn’t have including a 10 digit ‘Order ID’ from my test order confirmation email (I didn’t have as the booking reference) and an 11-digit barcode number from the test, while mine was 10, or 12 if the stars at the start and end were included.
However, on checking again, I noticed that the information that came with the test only referred to a requirement to “activate” the test on a specific website for the test lab.
An email exchange with the testing company, which has an agreement with a specific lab, confirmed that only this “activation” was needed (it did not have a phone number: in the future I would maybe use one that is easier to contact).
The information that had to be entered on the lab’s website included a PIN code that came with the test and the test tube barcode number, minus the stars, as well as details of my trip to the UK.
After the last section was completed, the online form closed but I did not receive a confirmation email. I double-checked that everything was fine by trying to start the process over again, and the site told me that it had already logged this test.
I then wrote down the Royal Mail tracking number under the barcode of the prepaid label and mailed the package to the nearest post office, which was here among those offering the ‘Priority Mailbox’ service. required. It was possible to post it anytime until 5:00 p.m.
I sent it on Friday around 2:30 p.m. and received the results by email at 12:45 a.m. French time on Sunday morning after my return to France. I had to re-enter my PIN code to read the results.
What else does it take to visit the UK from an amber country outside of the day two Covid test?
All travelers to the UK from overseas must show a negative ‘before departure’ Covid test, even if their country of departure is on the UK green or orange lists. This can be a PCR or an antigen test and should be done within three calendar days before departure eg. if you go on a Wednesday, you would take it on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.
I got an antigen test in a French pharmacy, at the price of 25 €. I didn’t have to book and the results were available within half an hour. See this previous article to learn more about obtaining a French test.
I would recommend the antigen option as simpler than a PCR test which has to be done by a testing lab, usually booked in advance, and can take up to two days or more to get the results.
In theory, an antigen test would have to meet certain technical standards to be acceptable to the UK, but we have heard no reports of a rejection of a French antigen test for entry into the UK. United.
UK rules also state that the information on the test certificate must include the name and contact details of the test provider and details of the device used for the test if it is not a PCR.
The test results emailed to me by the pharmacy for upload to a website clearly did not include any of these. However, I also asked the pharmacy to give me a paper certificate and requested that all the details including the test device be included on it. I suggest reporting these rules to the pharmacy.
The other essential item for traveling to France is the UK Passenger Tracking Form which must be completed online within 48 hours of your arrival in the UK. Part of this process is asking for the Covid test booking reference number, so book your Covid test before completing this form. I printed a copy of the completed locate form to take with me.
What was verified on the trip to the UK?
I traveled to UK via a connecting flight in the Netherlands. I presented my vaccination certificate for registration in France, because unvaccinated French residents must have a form indicating an essential reason to go to a French country listed as the United Kingdom.
My Covid test and passenger tracing form for entering UK were checked in Amsterdam at a separate office after passport control and before I could make it to the UK boarding gate .
At passport control in the UK my papers were not checked, although the border guard asked me if I was vaccinated. I said I was.
Read more: Two post-Covid jabs now possible in France for travelers to the United Kingdom