Austria’s switch from ‘amber’ to ‘green’ on Britain’s Covid-19 travel list on Sunday, August 8th applies to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
What it means
All passengers, including children, have to take a test on or before ‘Day Two’ after their arrival in England, in addition to the pre-departure test.
But – crucially – this Day Two test must be booked before you leave Austria.
The passenger locator form, required for all arrivals into England, cannot be completed without a reference number from a test, booking through one of the UK government’s approved list of suppliers.
Prior to the change, unvaccinated travellers from Austria needed to quarantine for 10 full days and take another test on or before Day Eight of their stay.
However a quarantine will not be necessary as long as Austria is on the green list.
It is important to note that for test and quarantine purposes, the day of arrival is counted as Day Zero. The following day is Day One, the day after that Day Two, and so on.
Proof of purchase of the second test must be included on the passenger locator form, which everyone over age 18 must complete and submit within the 48 hours before they travel. Anyone who fails to take this Day Two test faces a fine of up to £2,000.
And, yes, even if your stay is a short one, before you travel you will need to book and pay for tests for Day Two and – if required because you’re not fully vaccinated at the time of travel – Day Eight.
How to book a test
PCR tests in the UK may be carried out at home, or by going to a clinic. Prices vary based on how many tests you require and how quickly you need the results – and many clinics offer a range of packages.
According to the government website, you’ll have a wait of 24 to 36 hours to get your test result. Other sources and anecdotal evidence from frustrated travellers including The Local France’s editor Emma Pearson, however, suggest waits of 72 hours and beyond.
Would not recommend @rightangledltd to a friend or even an enemy, since their '24 hour' covid test results take 5 days to arrive, rendering paying extra for a day 5 'test to release' completely pointless, since the results don't arrive until day 9. 0/10 – avoid pic.twitter.com/NW8fjybDE7
— Emma Pearson (@LocalFR_Emma) August 4, 2021
Still waiting for my Day 2 test 3 days after my arrival. Royal Mail told me an investigation takes 72 hours to find my parcel. I paid 55 £ for this. #vismaviedexpatriée
— Ingrid FEUERSTEIN (@In_Feuerstein) August 11, 2021
Word of warning for anyone planning to do a Day 5 Covid release test in the UK.
a) It's NOT Day 5 – it's Day 6 (the day you arrive is classified as Day 0)
b) Tests results take ages. We took ours at 7am on Mon but only got results at 2am today: Day 8 in fact!
Caveat emptor! pic.twitter.com/XPdd5jjKWv
— Future migrant (@robinkellett) August 11, 2021
The cost of individual PCR tests varies between £50 and £250 – though many providers offer a range of packages at different prices based on the number of tests required, where you are coming from and how quickly the results are needed, according to the Covid Testing Network website.
You’ll find the companies offer packages depending on the status of the country you are travelling from, in other words green or amber. Even though the tests are the same. Some companies confusingly list products only for “UK vaccinated”.
Some we found appear to have minimum spends so even if you find a cheap test you can’t buy it.
What’s a real pain is that you also have to book individually for each passenger that requires a test – so if you’re travelling as a family of four you will have to go through the booking process four times.
The system seems relatively complicated, although keep in mind that people from the UK are currently restricted from entering Austria unless they are citizens or residents.
Confusing official list
The Westminster government lists test providers in England and Northern Ireland here.
But it is long and bewildering, and many firms listed are new and relatively unknown reflecting the rapidly shifting Covid-19 market. Unhelpfully, there’s little indication of where clinics are located, even after a search is regionalised: Yorkshire and the Humber, for example, covers quite a large area.
The government is quick to insist it does not endorse one test provider over another – but it does say that it ‘closely monitors’ performance. All private providers of Covid tests are required to meet certain standards. If they fall short they can be removed from official lists.
Better to look elsewhere
Travel firms and airlines, eager for your business, are increasingly offering discounted tests to customers who use their services, and may include links to certain suppliers on their website. They are worth a look as this may help you find a cheaper test.
It may also be worth checking the Covid Testing Network’s price comparison site, which shows provider prices for at-home and in-clinic tests within a radius of your location in England. Helpfully, it also includes a customer satisfaction score, as well as price, allowing users to make a reasonably informed decision.
Please note: This story was updated on August 12 to reflect the fact that Austria is now on the green list and as such a quarantine is not necessary for the unvaccinated.