Approval of PCR test kits for international arrivals: FOI review

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

Your request, reference 202100221567
I would like to submit a Freedom of Information request to enquire about the reasons behind the decision to approve only Covid-19 PCR Test Kits for international arrivals to Scotland through the CTM Booking Portal and not private businesses?

In comparison with England, PCR test kits sold through private businesses are not able to be used for this purpose in Scotland as stated on website. The website specifically states: "you must book your testing kit using the CTM Booking Portal – any other type of testing kit, such as free NHS kits or those sold by private businesses, cannot be used for these tests". There is a set price of £170 for day 2 and 8 tests in Scotland for tests purchased through CTM Booking Portal, whereas the tests in England are available for purchase from as little as £9.99.

I would like to know what the reasoning is behind not allowing PCR tests through private businesses to be used after arriving from abroad in Scotland and forcing Scottish residents to pay an expensive set price for these tests only through this one approved provider? I would also like to know if this policy will change in the future.


I have concluded that the original decision should be overturned and a different decision should be substituted.

The decision to issue a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you requested was incorrect. I am providing the information you requested below.

The decision to use the UK Government contract with CTM to pay for NHS test kits using their online portal was taken collectively by Scottish Ministers. The cost of the test kits was set by the UK Government and the process managed through its contract with the travel management company.

The decision to only allow international travellers arriving in Scotland to use PCR test kits ordered through the CTM booking portal related to concerns about the speed and reliability of the flow of data from private companies providing PCR testing services not delivered under this contract. Scottish Government officials have undertaken significant discussion with UK Government around the speed and reliability of the flow of data from private companies to address this concern.

The Scottish Government has now confirmed that from 04:00 Monday 6 September, travellers arriving in Scotland from amber and green list countries are able to use private test providers for their testing package.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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