Note that from this Sunday the rules have changed yet again. See our piece
In summary, the government has announced it is lifting the requirement to quarantine on arrival in England until a negative PCR test result is received. In its place is a return to taking a lateral flow test on or before Day 2.
We are leaving the information below in place, but note that it will be out of date by the end of this weekend.
The new rules on travel into the UK mean that incoming travellers now have to pre-book at Day 2 PCR test and generate a code to put onto the Passenger Locator Form (PLF).
Note that although this test is referred to as a ‘Day 2’ test, it is a test that must be taken on or before Day 2.
The day you arrive in the UK is Day ‘0’ with the next day ‘1’ and the second day ‘2’.
This means you can take the Day 2 test as soon as you arrive (on Day 0), and receive the results more quickly. This will shorten the time you spend in quarantine. Many providers call it a ‘Fully Vaccinated Arrivals Day 0-2 PCR Test’ for this reason.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is, at the moment, you can’t get a rapid (3-hour) PCR test for this Day 0-2 test at Heathrow…. we’re hoping that will change, but read on…
What are the new rules?
They are on the government website, but at the time of writing (and we will update these as they change), they are as follows:
If you are fully vaccinated and arrive in England from a country that is not on the red list, you:
- must self-isolate
- take a PCR test before the end of day 2 after you arrive (lateral flow tests will not be accepted)
- can leave self-isolation if your PCR test result is negative
Of course you can order a PCR test to your home and then post off the sample, or you could use a walk-in centre close to where you live or work. The government website has a list of providers. But that will take more time.
As an aside, note that to travel to the UK you need to complete a PLF. To complete that form, you must have booked a Day 0-2 test with an approved provider which will then send you a code. You cannot wait until you arrive in the UK to do this, since the PLF requires a code from an approved testing provider to prove you have booked a test.
Heathrow arrivals testing
At Heathrow, Day 2 tests are available through Express Cignpost
You can take one of these tests once you have cleared security.
There are two arrivals locations – in Terminal 2 arrivals and Terminal 5 arrivals.
Terminal 2 location:
“The Terminal 2 Arrivals testing centre is also open to those not travelling through Heathrow. The ExpressTest testing centre is located on the ground level plaza (below arrivals). To access the site from elsewhere in Terminal 2, exit the building and descend to the ground level.”
Terminal 5 location:
“For ExpressTest in T5 Arrivals please go to level 0 (ground level), and go inside the terminal building then turn immediately right. You will find our Testing centre at the far end of the building beyond Café Nero and the red coloured lift. It is clearly signposted “Testing Centre” on the pillars.”
How much does it cost?
At the time of writing it is £69 per person, though of course this may change and if it does we will update this page.
How quickly will you get the result?
Express Cignpost says
“We aim to deliver your RT-PCR test results by 10pm the day AFTER your test. If it is not yet 10pm UK time then please wait until this time has elapsed before contacting us.”
Note that the government has put a qualifying test into the requirements, and at present, the rapid PCR test from many providers does not qualify.
The government have set a qualifying criteria for acceptable Day 2 tests, as it stands now Rapid PCR does not qualify in it’s current form and is therefore not yet approved for Day 2 arrival.
— Collinson (@Collinson) November 29, 2021
Why is this? Something to do with the testing necessary to discover the new variant. You can read more about that in this article on Sky news.
We are told that some private providers – in London – can process a rapid PCR Day 0-2 test – see in the comments below. One example is the Regenerative Clinic which has five locations in London and says it can offer Day 2 PCR Same Day Results as well as Express 3/4 Hours departure testing with ‘Fit to Fly’ certificates (it has an in-house laboratory testing facility that is CQC compliant which enables it to do so.)
Note that because these are rapid tests from private providers, they will be considerably more expensive – prices seem to be around £399 for a 3-hour test. In the case of the Regenerative Clinic, there is a discount code. Select one of the five clinics which offer the express, follow the steps to booking the test and put BUSINESSTRAVEL20 in the redeem coupon option to receive 20 per cent off. Any problems, email
Update - 12 December
Halo which has a testing facility set up at the Sofitel Heathrow T5 says it has an option which can help. It uses a saliva test (spit in a tube) which is approved for Day 0-2 tests, and is quicker than the other options.
Location?: HALO has a fully UKAS approved lab setup at the Sofitel Heathrow T5, just a five-minute walk from the terminal
How quickly can customers receive results? Initially, HALO was providing results at approximately 3-4 hours turnaround. Demand is heavy, however, and this has gradually slipped to where there is no guarantee.
At first it said 3-4 hours, then it said the following (see screen grab below)
… and now (December 12) it is saying the following:
Cost?: £59 for a Day 2 PCR test which includes access to the HALO app and support from the customer service team if required
Opening times? 08:00 – 20:00
How to book? haloverify.com/heathrow-t5
Please note: Business Traveller is not recommending one provider over another, and in fact, is not making recommendations at all. The only one of these options we have ‘tested’ is the Express Cignpost one. This was taken at Heathrow on December 11 at 1420 and the result returned 26 hours later at 1620 on Sunday 12 December.
Nevertheless, the point of this piece is to compile useful information for you, and try and answer the questions you might have.
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