Health secretary Sajid Javid has hailed the switch from PCR tests to cheaper lateral flow options as a “huge boost to the travel industry”.
Fully vaccinated passengers and most under-18s arriving from non red-list countries can now use a lateral flow test on or before day two of their arrival in England.
The new regime came into force on Sunday (October 24) although the government portal listing providers of tests crashed when it launched on Friday.
Javid said: “This huge boost to the travel industry and the public will make it easier and cheaper for people to book holidays and travel abroad, and it is it is because of our incredible vaccine programme that this is possible.
“Anyone who tests positive must take a PCR test, which, if positive, may be genomically sequenced to check for variants and further help us fight this virus.”
Bookings for lateral flow tests can be purchased through the private providers listed on gov.uk from about £22 per test, said the government statement. NHS tests cannot be used.
Passengers must send a photo of their test result to the private provider and failure to do so could result in a fine of £1,000.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps, said: “The change in rules for post-arrival tests will give passengers more options and faster results, just in time for many half-term holidays.
“It’s thanks to the success of our vaccination programme that we can make this switch – giving the industry and consumers a much-needed boost.”
All travellers must complete their passenger locator form before travel to England, including providing a test booking reference number supplied by a testing provider.
The Welsh government said it will follow suit and allow lateral flow tests from October 30.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, Advantage Travel Partnership, flagged up problems with the portal when it crashed on Friday. She also highlighted issues with prices when the site was fully operational over the weekend.
She said on Twitter: “Govt pages still showing misleading prices despite its own guidance suggesting the average price point of £22. £1 self swab at home from #A1CovidTesting one example only, is in fact an unsupervised on site appointment in Norwich #traveltesting”
Govt pages still showing misleading prices despite its own guidance suggesting the average price point of £22. £1 self swab at home from #A1CovidTesting one example only, is in fact an unsupervised on site appointment in Norwich #traveltestingpic.twitter.com/bQLSHBHCY1
— Julia Lo Bue-Said (@jlo_said) October 24, 2021
The portal says prices shown are “a guide – the final price you pay could be different to the displayed price”.
It adds: “Prices are updated periodically so there may be differences between the price listed on this page and the price on the provider’s website.
“Prices may differ from provider to provider for a number of reasons, for example to reflect different levels of customer support.
“Contact providers for detailed product and pricing information. Some providers may offer a range of packages at different prices with further add-ons, such as premium delivery.
“Some airlines and travel agents offer discounts on tests. Check with them as you cannot access their discounts from this service.”