PCR tests for travel are set to be scrapped from Oct 22 in time for half-term holidays, saving a family of four up to £200.
Fully vaccinated holidaymakers will instead be allowed to book and use cheaper lateral flow tests when they return to Britain from half-term breaks.
This should reduce the costs from an average of around £60 to £70 for a PCR test to between £20 and £35 for a lateral flow test from an approved provider on the Government’s official website.
As previously with PCR tests, double-vaccinated travellers will be expected to book lateral flow tests in advance, register them on their passenger locator forms and then take them on or before day two of their return to the UK.
The Department of Health and Social Care has accepted that the test can be done by holidaymakers at home, but the result will have to be verified with the test firm by providing a photograph of the kit with its registration number.
Some companies with labs at airports are offering on-site tests, which families could take after landing and then be texted the result.
The system will not be fully operational for returns until Monday Oct 24, but travellers will be able to book lateral flow tests from Friday Oct 22.
The travel industry welcomed the move. Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, said it would be a “massive relief” to families desperate to get away this autumn and was a “major step forward that will support the desperately needed recovery of our sector”.
Only unvaccinated travellers now have to take a pre-departure test and then quarantine for 10 days on their return and pay for PCR tests on days two and eight of their return. The pre-departure test for double jabbed travellers was ditched on Oct 4.