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

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

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. 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.

  2. 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.

  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. 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 !!

  5. 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!

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