Consumer group Which? has recently highlighted problems travellers have experienced when trying to secure a PCR test and its result.

Consumers have reported test kits not arriving on time, as well as test results not being received within the promised time frame – despite some of these providers being recommended by the UK government. Unable to contact the provider online or over the phone to chase their tests, travellers have been left wondering how to meet the testing requirements and where they can go to recover their money from the firms that let them down.

Given that PCR tests are compulsory for those arriving in the UK, as well as to enter most destinations abroad, it is essential that travellers are aware of the steps they can take to minimise the risk of being let down by a PCR test company.

If the test you need to travel abroad not does not arrive in time, you should immediately try and get a new one from another provider. This may involve driving to specialist same-day facility or paying an additional fee to have the test arrive on the same day. Of course, these types of tests may cost a little more, but at least you’ll have the necessary documentation to travel.

Travellers should not attempt to travel without the necessary test results and documentation if it is a requirement to enter the country they are visiting, as they will not be covered for any refused entry or any quarantine costs by their travel insurer, should they not meet the entry requirements.

Once you have secured your test and result, you should then claim your original payment back from the provider that let you down. If they are unable to provide you with a refund, and you paid with a credit or debit card, you should then approach your bank and request a refund. Please note, this is not something that travel insurance policies offer cover for, therefore we would recommend making every attempt to try and recover your money through your bank.

It gets a little more difficult when pre-departure test results don’t arrive on time while you’re abroad, as failure to provide a valid PCR test taken up 72 hours when returning to the UK will almost certainly lead to a £500 fine at border control. In the scenario that you are due to fly imminently and your test result still has not arrived, we would recommend contacting your tour operator for advice or seeking guidance from your hotel reception.

Unfortunately, PCR tests or Covid-19 results not arriving in time is not something that is typically covered by most travel insurance providers. Additionally, test providers are not liable for any lost costs, for example, the cost of a new flight or additional accommodation. Therefore, in order to minimise the risk of a test or result not arriving on time we would recommend:

  • Booking a trip with a tour operator that offers Covid-19 testing as part of their package holiday deal. Some tour operators have partnered with test providers in an attempt to offer Brits more security when travelling. At least that way, if your test doesn’t arrive on time, you have some to contact regarding new flights or accommodation.
  • Do not delay taking the test. Take the test as soon as you can e.g., up to 72 hours before you fly, to give yourself as much preparation time as possible. That way, if your result doesn’t arrive on time, you have time to search for and secure a new one.
  • Check your options with your tour operator and travel insurer. Peace of mind is key when travelling. So, why not ask your tour operator what would happen in the event that your Covid-19 test doesn’t arrive on time before your travel? It’s also worth knowing that while most travel insurers won’t cover trip cancellation due to a delay in a Covid-19 test result, they may let you change your trip dates for free if your tour operator has to amend your travel dates. However, it’s always worth checking your policy wording to see if there is any cover for delayed PCR tests that may cover you.

We completely understand that this is a difficult time when it comes to travelling abroad. Therefore, if you have any concerns or questions, feel free to drop us an email at and we will try our very best to help.