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COVID-19

How to book that ‘Day Two’ Covid-19 test if you’re travelling from Switzerland to the UK

Fully vaccinated visitors arriving in England from Switzerland do not have to isolate for 10 days, but you will still need to arrange tests for after your arrival in the UK ... and that can quickly get bewildering.

How to book that 'Day Two' Covid-19 test if you’re travelling from Switzerland to the UK
Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

Switzerland is currently on the UK’s ‘amber list’ – a list which applies to visiting England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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, in addition to the pre-departure test.

But – crucially – this Day Two test must be booked before you leave Switzerland.

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

For fully vaccinated travellers, after the new rules take effect, the Day Two test will mark the end of their Covid travel requirements, assuming it comes back negative.

Unvaccinated travellers from Switzerland, however, 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.

And, yes, even if your stay is a short one, before you travel you will need to book and pay for tests for Day Two and – if required because you’re not fully vaccinated at the time of travel – Day Eight.

How to book a test

PCR tests in the UK may be carried out at home, or by going to a clinic. Prices vary based on how many tests you require and how quickly you need the results – and many clinics offer a range of packages.

According to the government website, you’ll have a wait of 24 to 36 hours to get your test result. Other sources and anecdotal evidence from frustrated travellers including The Local France’s editor Emma Pearson, however, suggest waits of 72 hours and beyond.

The cost of individual PCR tests varies between £50 and £250 – though many providers offer a range of packages at different prices based on the number of tests required, where you are coming from and how quickly the results are needed, according to the Covid Testing Network website.

You’ll find the companies offer packages depending on the status of the country you are travelling from, in other words green or amber. 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.

What’s a real pain is that you also have to book individually for each passenger that requires a test – so if you’re travelling as a family of four you will have to go through the booking process four times.

UPDATED: Who can travel to Switzerland right now?

Confusing official list

The Westminster government lists test providers in England and Northern Ireland here.

But it is long and bewildering, and many firms listed are new and relatively unknown reflecting the rapidly shifting Covid-19 market. Unhelpfully, there’s little indication of where clinics are located, even after a search is regionalised: Yorkshire and the Humber, for example, covers quite a large area.

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.

Better to look elsewhere

Travel firms and airlines, eager for your business, are increasingly offering discounted tests to customers who use their services, and may include links to certain suppliers on their website. They are worth a look as this may help you find a cheaper test.

It may also be worth checking the Covid Testing Network’s price comparison site, which shows provider prices for at-home and in-clinic tests within a radius of your location in England. Helpfully, it also includes a customer satisfaction score, as well as price, allowing users to make a reasonably informed decision.

Member comments

  1. If you’re only going to the UK for two days, I would assume you do not need to book the tests for Day Two. Or is that assuming too much?

    1. Asking for too much I am afraid! To get into the country you need to show your day 2 test number. I have booked mine and am travelling to the U.K. on Sat and returning Mon. The test company say they will only dispatch the test on Sat so there is every likelihood that I shall have left the country before the test even arrives. And the U.K. government website threatens a £2k fine for those who don’t do the test! With my test company you cannot cancel or ask for a refund.

      As every month goes by I feel grateful to be in Macron’s France rather than Boris’s Rip Off Britain!

      1. Yes, this is what I condlued too. Will need to throw away 70 euros on a useless test I will never take.

        Call it a COVID tax!

  2. I think you do just like when you are going to UK from a Amber country if you are not fully vaccinated and you need to take the day 2 and day 8 test, if you leave on day 3 you still have to pay for day 8 test.

    Also, you need to pay for the test in order to get the number to enter into your UK passenger locator form…total sham all of it !!

  3. I used randox health they charge £48 per test, but if you enter a voucher code (I used EasyJet2021) you get a 10% discount. Find the codes on Martin Lewis website. My test results were received within 48 hours.

  4. It’s just racketeering. There’s only one reason why Johnson’s government doesn’t fix a price for these tests and that’s because someone is making a huge amount of money out of them – and it’s not hard to guess who these people are. It’s an absolute scandal.

  5. So I’m snookered when I jet in for a day to visit my dentist, yet we let the plague carriers in with just proof they have been fully vaccinated. Strange old world.

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For members

TRAIN TRAVEL

Five European cities you can reach from Zurich in less than five hours by train

Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it also has a great location right in the centre of Europe, making it an ideal starting point for train travel. Here are five destinations you can reach in less than five hours from Zurich.

Five European cities you can reach from Zurich in less than five hours by train

As summer is still in full swing and there are many vacation days (or free weekends) to enjoy the sunny weather, it’s not the wrong time to do some travelling. Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it’s also centrally located in Europe. This means that many major European cities are reachable in just a few hours.

If you are located in Zurich, for example, then you are very near Germany, France, Italy, Liechtenstein and Austria. In less than five hours, visiting beautiful cities in these five countries is possible by taking a comfortable train ride.

So, select your final destination, get your ticket, and enjoy the ride.

READ ALSO: Switzerland’s ten most beautiful villages you have to visit

From Zurich to Strasbourg

It will take you just about 2 hours and 30 minutes (including time to stop and change trains in Basel) to get from Zurich’s mains station to the beautiful and historical city of Strasbourg, in northeast France.

Prices vary depending on several factors, but we found one-way tickets for just around CHF 23 on a Friday.

From Zurich to Munich

The capital of Bavaria can be reached from Zurich’s central station on a direct train in just 3 hours 30 minutes, allowing for short stays.

Munich may seem quite far away on a map, but the fast trains without stopovers actually make the journey quick and pleasant. We found one-way tickets for around CHF 70 on a Friday trip.

From Zurich to Vaduz

The capital of Liechtenstein is easy to reach in less than 2 hours from the Zurich central station. In fact, some journeys will take just about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

The lovely town bordering Switzerland has many tourist attractions, from its pedestrian historical centre to castles and parks. Train ticket prices always vary, but we found tickets for a one-way journey on a Friday costing CHF 20.

READ ALSO: Travel: What are the best night train routes to and from Switzerland?

From Zurich to Milan

Depending on the train you take, you can get from Zurich to Italy’s fashion capital in three to four hours with a direct train.

Before 2016, when the Gotthard Base Tunnel was opened to rail traffic, a trip from Zurich to Milan took an hour longer. It’s possible to find tickets for about CHF 70 for a one-way trip on a Friday.

From Zurich to Innsbruck

From Zurich, it is possible to hop on a direct train and, in just over 3 hours and 30 minutes, arrive in the beautiful town of Innsbruck, in the mountains of Tyrol.

Ticket costs vary, but we found tickets for a relatively short-notice one-way trip on a Friday (without discounts) for CHF 84.

READ ALSO: Five beautiful Swiss villages located near Alpine lakes

Cost:

Fares depend on several factors, such as time of the day and day of the week when you travel.

While a rock-bottom cheap fare may be available one day in the morning, it won’t necessarily be offered the next day (or week) in the afternoon, or vice-versa.

Prices also depend on whether you are entitled to any discounts and which wagon you choose.

If you are interested in travelling farther afield, including with night trains, or if you are in other Swiss cities, these articles provide more information:

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