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Why do some COVID-19 travel tests in B.C. cost double the price of those in Ontario and Alberta?

In Alberta some cost as little as $31.50.
While the cost of PCR tests for travel has dropped in the Metro Vancouver region, folks should expect to pay a minimum of $75 for a rapid antigen test.

While the cost of PCR tests for travel has dropped somewhat in the Metro Vancouver region, folks should still expect to pay a minimum of $75 for a rapid antigen test, despite being able to order the tests for significantly less. 

But this isn't the case for residents of other provinces. 

Acculab charges $39 for a rapid antigen coronavirus test, which British Columbians may order in advance of their travel. This is the cheapest avenue for locals to take, as most companies require consumers to purchase multiple kits, costing upwards of $79. 

For people who can't afford to wait, the cheapest local rapid antigen tests cost around $75. While this is significantly less than the cost of a PCR travel test, it is significantly higher than what Albertans and Ontarians can expect to pay (around $30 to $40 at pharmacies). 

In Metro Vancouver 

Iridia Medical, located at 1755 West Broadway in Vancouver, offers a variety of testing options for travellers and businesses, as well as people who want to know if they previously had the virus. Their travel rapid antigen test costs $126 and provides results in a mere 20 minutes. This type of test will not meet the entry requirements for many countries, however. Positive results will require a PCR test to be completed (at no additional charge). 

Most countries require a negative result from an RT-PCR NAAT test for travel, which Iridia offers for $194.25. While it takes 10 minutes to administer, results are typically processed within 20 to 30 hours. 

Ultima Medical offers the COVID-19 RT-PCR NAAT test for travel at several locations across the Lower Mainland, including a popular clinic at the Vancouver International Airport. Travellers in the Lower Mainland will pay $149 plus GST for the test while people in the Interior or on Vancouver Island pay $199 plus GST (due to the courier costs). The lab will process tests as they receive them. For a rapid antigen test, folks can expect to pay $99.

Rockdoc Vancouver Testing Centre is located at 6218 East Boulevard and offers several options for travellers who plan ahead or those who are pressed for time. For those planning in advance, the clinic will provide results from the COVID-19 RT-PCR travel test the following day for $149.99.

For travellers who can't afford to obtain overnight results, Rockdoc also offers COVID-19 RT-PCR test results on the same day for $219.99 

Travellers may also get the rapid antigen test for $104.99 but this test may not meet the travel requirements of the destinations they're visiting. 

Across Canada 

Alberta Health Services advises locals that several private clinics and pharmacies will provide testing for travel or for people who don't want to wait for results from public health. DynaLIFE Medical Labs in Alberta will do a PCR test for travel for $150. Numi Health in Alberta charges $110 + GST for Antigen Airport Tests and $160 + GST for PCR Airport Tests.

Most impressively, Equity Health Services in Calgary, AB will do a $31.50. These tests come with a "travel document with QR code," according to the website. 

Lifelabs will perform PCR testing for travel in both B.C. and Ontario for $150. However, people who wish to visit the United States and need a rapid antigen test will not be able to get one through the clinic in B.C. The cost of the test is $60 and is available in the Greater Toronto Area, but the website notes that it "is not currently available in B.C."

Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Ontario will perform PCR testing for travel for $150  and rapid antigen tests for travel for $40. However, the company cautions: "There is an extremely high demand for public COVID-19 PCR testing at Pharmacies and there will be delays in obtaining appointments."

FN Health Testing Centre in Ontario will offer same-day results for PCR travel tests for only $159 plus tax and rapid antigen tests in under an hour for $78plus tax. 

There are several other pharmacies in Alberta and Ontario that charge $30 to $40 for rapid tests for travel, too.

Metro Vancouver residents: What to know about travel right now

Disclaimer: Vancouver Is Awesome does not support travel during the non-essential travel advisory. Many foreign governments are implementing strict travel restrictions due to the spread of the Omicron variant and international transportation options may be limited. As a result, you may have difficulty returning to Canada.