Finding and Choosing a Private Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Provider
What private COVID-19 testing services are available
Not all providers offer the same testing services. Before looking for a private provider, you need to identify the testing service you need.
Travel tests before departure (“fit to fly”)
You may need proof of a negative COVID-19 test before traveling abroad. Suppliers often call these tests fitness to fly. Testing requirements are set by the country you wish to travel to and sometimes by the airline you are flying with. Private providers offering these tests must meet the government’s minimum standards for testing services for the general population in order to legally provide these services. We do not currently host a separate listing for ‘fit to fly’.
Check the FCDO’s travel advice pages for the testing requirements of the country you want to visit.
COVID-19 tests in the general population
Some providers offer “general population” COVID-19 tests for asymptomatic people who want to book and pay for their own test.
Please note that not all providers listed in the general population of COVID-19 test providers will offer pre-departure testing and travelers should use the type of test required by the country they wish to travel to.
How to choose a supplier
There are several steps to follow and things to consider when arranging a private COVID-19 test.
Find a supplier
Find a private provider offering the testing service you need.
You can use one of the supplier lists on GOV.UK or find one using your own research.
If your test is for travel purposes, your tour operator may be able to help you find a provider.
Check that the supplier is listed on GOV.UK
Consumers can find suppliers on the GOV.UK list who have self-declared against the government’s minimum standards. Some suppliers who have completed the self-declaration have chosen not to be published on the GOV.UK list.
There are different minimum standards for different test programs – read more about the minimum standards below.
This means that consumers should always check the specific list of the testing service they need.
Members of the public are encouraged to find a testing provider through the appropriate GOV.UK list to ensure they are self-certified as meeting the government’s minimum standards, although consumers are still advised to carry out their own independent research before choosing a specific private. vendor.
Check the terms and conditions of the supplier
Visit the provider’s website to check their terms and conditions, and other details about their service.
Things you will want to consider include:
- the total cost of the testing service
- where and how you want to take the test – for example, self-sampling at home or supervised at a test site
- how long you will have to wait for test results
- how the provider handles complaints about its service
- what is the provider’s refund policy in case your plans change
Many suppliers send test kits by post or courier – you should allow plenty of time for your test kit to arrive. If you need an in-person test, check directly with the providers if this is possible.
Some airlines and tour operators offer discounts on travel tests – check their websites for details.
Check the consumer reviews of the provider
You will need to do your own research to check the reputation of the provider. For example, use consumer review websites or personal recommendations.
The government does not endorse, recommend or endorse any private testing provider.
Minimum standards and UKAS accreditation
By law, all COVID-19 tests must meet certain minimum standards set by the government. Suppliers must also complete a statement that their testing meets these standards.
For more information and to see the testing standards, read Minimum standards for private sector COVID-19 test providers.
The UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) is working with the government to ensure the quality of private COVID-19 testing providers. In December 2020, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC) has developed a 3-step method UKAS accreditation process.
Suppliers offering sample collection (i.e. physical sample collection) and/or sample analysis services are required to seek accreditation from UKAS and must continue to meet high standards and deadlines.
Suppliers listed on GOV.UK may be at different stages of the accreditation process. They may not have full accreditation. However, they will have demonstrated compliance with the required minimum standards as they progress through the process.
Suppliers can be removed from the lists at any time if they are found not to meet the minimum standards. This includes failure to meet accreditation deadlines.
To find suppliers who have reached full UKAS accreditation, visit UKAS website – you can search by provider name or by the COVID-19 testing service they offer (swab, point-of-care (POCT) testing, or lab-based PCR testing).
Supplier lists published on GOV.UK
We publish lists and information about private providers whose self-declaration against the government’s minimum standards has been successfully assessed.
See the list of COVID-19 test providers for the general population – updated daily Monday through Friday.
There is no separate list for providers offering pre-departure travel testing (fit to fly) – find out more about pre-departure travel testing and how you can find providers offering the service you need need.
The government does not comment on the business practices of specific companies or cases, and we do not endorse, recommend or endorse any private testing provider. Suppliers on the GOV.UK list have demonstrated compliance with the relevant minimum standards for their commercial testing supply. This includes applying for and working towards obtaining accreditation through the UKAS 3-step accreditation process if they provide sample collection and/or test analysis services.
When suppliers are added to the list on GOV.UK
Private providers are added to the GOV.UK list once their self-declaration has been successfully assessed against the government’s minimum standards for their provision of testing services by UKAS.
Not all suppliers need be added to the list and may choose not to be published or choose to remove their listing from the relevant GOV.UK list.
If you’re a supplier and want to be added to a list, read our tips for suppliers.
Why a supplier may be delisted on GOV.UK
Organizations can be removed from the lists for a number of reasons, including if they are found not to meet one of the minimum standards for the testing service they provide, or when the UKAS applicant no longer respects the accreditation deadlines.
The tests already provided and/or passed remain valid if the service providers are removed from the list. Private providers will be notified directly when they can no longer provide testing services.
How to report problems with private providers
If you have had or have had a customer service issue with a private testing provider, you should speak with the provider. They are the primary point of contact to help resolve your issue. You should check the provider’s terms and conditions to see if they cover the specific issue you are having.
If the problem cannot be solved by the supplier, read our advice on consumer rights, including information on the assistance available and useful contacts. Citizens Advice may be able to provide practical advice on your options if you are unsure of your rights.
In addition, the Competition and Markets Authority offers a reporting service that allows consumers to report a company that they believe has behaved unfairly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can also lodge a complaint against a test provider using the NHS online feedback form. To help us improve the service. However, please note that we will not be able to contact a supplier on your behalf, nor intervene in the event of a dispute. Issues with your tests such as service received, a lack of test kits, or late or nonexistent test results should be reported to your provider first.
What we do to protect consumers
We monitor issues raised by the public and data submitted by the vendor. We also receive reports from other key supplier regulators and oversight bodies.
If we become aware that a supplier is not providing the high quality service we expect, we may contact them to highlight our concerns and suggest ways of improvement.
If we learn that a supplier is not meeting the required minimum standards or that their activities may endanger public safety, we will ask them to make improvements. We may also remove their listing from GOV.UK.
In certain circumstances, we will assist regulators in undertaking a further investigation of a supplier and we will support any legal action or intervention.
Where a supplier has been removed from GOV.UK lists, they can apply to be reinstated on the list by providing evidence that they have resolved the issue which led to their removal.
We will review the evidence they provide and put them back on the relevant GOV.UK list if we are satisfied that they can now provide a high quality service to consumers.