ZAVA review: Private COVID testing for travel

Read on for our review of pre-departure and arrival COVID tests from the online health provider ZAVA.

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If you’re going abroad this year, you’ll need to make sure you organise COVID tests for travel. There’s a new rule change as of 4 October, so be sure to check out the latest information. In the UK, this may mean buying tests from a private COVID test provider.

One of these providers is the healthcare company ZAVA and in this review we explore what COVID tests it offers, what its credentials are and what customer reviews say about the service.

Name Product Test purpose Test type Test location Price (from) Key benefits
Zava Test to Release (Day 5 Test)
Day 5
Zava Day 2 and 8 Test
Day 2 and 8
Zava Day 2 Test
Day 2

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What is ZAVA?

ZAVA is an online health service that provides prescriptions, medication and testing services that you can access from home. It also provides COVID tests for travel and is on the UK government’s list of testing providers. This means the tests have met the government’s minimum standards for safety and performance.

What types of COVID tests can I get from ZAVA?

ZAVA specialises in PCR tests. You can get all pre-departure and arrival PCR tests from ZAVA, including fit to fly tests and fit to travel tests, day 2 and day 8 tests and test to release tests (the day 5 test which allows you to end your quarantine early in England).

All tests are done by you at home and then either returned to one of ZAVA’s drop-off points or posted back using your nearest Royal Mail priority postbox.

What is ZAVA’s refund policy?

ZAVA does not offer refunds for day 2 tests or day 2 and day 8 test packs. It offers refunds for day 5 test to release, but you must return the kit sealed and undamaged within 14 days of delivery. ZAVA will take an administration fee of £10 from your refund.

ZAVA customer reviews

ZAVA as a company has a great rating on Trustpilot of 4 stars out of 5, but the reviews cover all its healthcare services, not just COVID tests. A closer look at the reviews reveals a more mixed picture.

While the majority were happy with the quick and efficient service, there were a few 1-star reviews from people complaining about the slow processing of day 2 tests and test to release (last updated: October 2021).

iNews covered a story earlier this month where a customer had trouble getting test results as the samples got lost in the post, and getting a refund was an arduous process.

Are ZAVA tests accurate?

The laboratory used by ZAVA, Southwest Pathology Services, has verified the sensitivity of the tests as 99.04% and specificity of 100%. No COVID test is 100% reliable but we reckon you can be confident that ZAVA tests are fairly accurate.

How long does it take to get results from ZAVA?

You should get your results within 36 hours of dropping your sample off at a ZAVA drop-off point. If using Royal Mail, your results should be processed within 48 hours of receipt of your sample.

Results will be available to view in your ZAVA online account and you can download them and any relevant certificates from there.

How much do ZAVA tests cost?

Fit to fly and fit to travel PCR test kits cost £89.50 each. Day 2 tests for fully vaccinated people from low-risk countries cost £69. Day 2 and day 8 test kits for people returning from low-risk countries cost £138, while test to release (day 5) costs £69.

Pros and cons of ZAVA

  • Government-listed COVID test provider
  • Brilliant website with clear instructions and FAQs
  • Easy to order tests online
  • Some reported delays with test results
  • Slightly more expensive than other COVID test providers

Our verdict: Is ZAVA any good?

ZAVA’s COVID tests look worth considering. ZAVA existed as a company before the pandemic, so it is an established business with a proven track record. The customer experience seems good and it is upfront about the efficacy of its tests. The customer support team is also on hand to deal with any issues, giving you peace of mind.

Our one gripe is that there are only 9 test drop-off points and these are mainly in London and the South West of England. This means you’ll need to rely on Royal Mail for posting your samples, which can sometimes be unreliable.

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