Booking reliable, affordable, Covid PCR travel tests is now easier thanks to the launch of the Covid Testing Network, the UK’s first travel testing comparison site. Olivia Palamountain reports

Anyone who’s had the pleasure – or rather, pain – of travelling during the pandemic understands the nightmare of Covid PCR tests and the ensuing admin only too well.

With costly Covid PCR tests mandatory both before and after every trip abroad (that’s at least three tests), it’s vital to find ones that aren’t too expensive, are convenient and are up to the right standard. The UK government does provide a long list of travel test providers but it’s not particularly user-friendly to search.

According to data from travel insurance firm Battleface, a third (33 per cent) of British travellers say that they would not be prepared to pay for a Covid-19 PCR test – either at home or at the airport – before travelling internationally.

However, if you have to travel or are willing to take the financial hit, how do you find and secure the best possible Covid PCR tests and select a trusted provider?

In advance of the easing of travel restrictions in the UK, the Covid Testing Network aims to answer this conundrum with the launch of the UK’s first travel testing site that compares private providers’ pricing and service levels across all accredited laboratories in the UK.

The platform enables travellers to search for all types of travel tests (PCR, antigen, Fit to Fly etc) from clinics that meet the government’s minimum standards. The Covid Testing Network only lists providers for the tests they are approved to perform and all test bookings are made directly with the provider.

Tim Perkin, co-founder of the Covid Testing Network, says: “As the only organisation in the UK that brings together whole-of-market PCR testing providers, we believe that transparency when customers are booking a PCR test for travel is of huge importance.

“If testing deadlines are missed or incorrect documentation is presented when travelling, the result might be that travellers miss out on their holiday or trip. When entrusting the testing process to a PCR test provider, travellers need to be assured that the provider will deliver the service they have promised at a reasonable price.

“Our website aims to bring fairness and clarity into the market and put the control back in the hands of the travelling public.”

Users can input a variety of specific search criteria to make their choice, such as the type of test required (Fit to Fly, Test to Release, Day 2 & 8 Arrival Tests), whether they want an at home or in-clinic experience, testing within a geographic radius and turnaround time – same day, up to 18 hours, up to 24 hours, up to 48 hours and up to 72 hours.

Results can be sorted by price, turnaround time or company name. Additionally, results display the key features of a provider’s offering such as whether discounts are available on testing for families, and whether non-invasive saliva tests are available.

There’s even a quality assurance stamp drawn from customer satisfaction scores: top test providers are marked in the result listings as ‘Trusted’ indicating the best-in-class providers as evidenced by the seal of approval from happy customers.

Providers labelled ‘Verified’ in results listings indicate that they have been hand-vetted for accuracy and price by the Covid Testing Network.

What’s coming next? Trend reports available to download HERE