Official Rapid Tests review: Private COVID testing for travel

Just how rapid are the antigen tests from Official Rapid Tests? We find out.

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Going abroad this year? New travel rules come into effect on 4 October. If you live in the UK, for your return you'll need to arrange and pay for COVID tests for travel from a private COVID test provider, like Official Rapid Tests. In this review, we look at what you get from Official Rapid Tests' COVID tests, and what customer reviews say about the service.
Name Product Test purpose Test type Test location Price (from) Key benefits
VERIFIED
Official Rapid Tests COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test
Pre-departure from the UK, Pre-departure to return
Lateral flow (antigen)
Home
£29
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What is Official Rapid Tests?

Official Rapid Tests describes itself as the fastest testing solution in the UK (although without some in-depth comparison and analysis, that’s tricky to confirm). Official Rapid Tests is owned and operated by Harley Medic International, and both brands are on the government list of private COVID test providers. Official Rapid Tests has had over 20,000 customers so far.

What types of COVID tests can I get from Official Rapid Tests?

Official Rapid Tests sells at-home, self-swab rapid antigen tests for both leaving and entering the UK. They’re much like the standard NHS lateral flow tests, but NHS tests can’t be used for travel purposes.

Is an Official Rapid Tests COVID test suitable for me?

Many countries that demand a negative COVID-19 test from arrivals are happy to accept an antigen test (rather than a PCR test) – which is great, because they’re much cheaper (and quicker, too, since they don’t require lab analysis). Check the requirements for your specific destination in this gov.uk directory.

You only need an antigen test to get back into the UK if you’re travelling from a “red” country or if you’re unvaccinated.

What is Official Rapid Tests’ return policy?

It does not process refunds on rapid antigen tests. Once the order has been placed, cancellation is unavailable. The product will ship the next day.

Official Rapid Tests customer reviews

While the on-site reviews section is conveniently very positive about the service that Official Rapid Tests is providing, we did a little more digging. On Trustpilot, Official Rapid Tests has a score of 4.3 out of 5, with around 60 reviews having been written (as of October 2021) – 78% rate the service as “excellent”, praising the speed of the kit delivery, ease of use and helpful customer service.

Negative reviews are in the minority, but mainly take issue with the “no refunds” policy and delayed test kits making travelling more difficult.

Are Official Rapid Tests’ COVID tests accurate?

The Official Rapid Tests website doesn’t provide a wealth of information on the efficacy of its COVID tests. But since it is included on the government’s list of test providers, its tests must be fit for purpose.

No COVID test is 100% accurate.

How long does it take to get results from Official Rapid Tests?

Once you’ve swabbed yourself, you can upload a photo to the Official Rapid Tests site. These are analysed throughout the day, 7 days a week. Official Rapid Tests assures you that your Fit to Fly certificate will be emailed to you within 6 hours, but in fact you’ll usually get it within 1 hour.

How much do Official Rapid Tests tests cost?

A rapid antigen test complete with a Fit to Fly certificate for travel costs £29.

Pros and cons of Official Rapid Tests

Pros

  • Government-listed COVID test provider
  • Competitive pricing (£29)
  • Quick turnaround time
  • Next-day delivery

Cons

  • No refunds
  • Unable to track test kit delivery
  • Certificate can take up to 6 hours to be emailed

Our verdict: Is Official Rapid Tests any good?

So long as the test arrives on time, it seems like Official Rapid Tests is offering a relatively reliable service. You’re taking a bit of a gamble since it won’t honour any refunds, but if you give yourself plenty of time to factor in any potential hiccups and can live with the worst-case possibility of losing £29 if things go wrong, this could be a good option for you.

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