Everyone who is travelling to the UK now needs to take a COVID test before their journey again, as well as another test after they arrive.
What are the new travel rules?
Travellers are now required to take a COVID test before they set off to the UK, and once they arrive in the UK.
All travellers to the UK who are aged 12 and over have to show proof of a negative COVID test, even if they are fully vaccinated
This can be either a lateral flow test or a PCR test, and it must be taken in the two days before departure to the UK.
The free NHS lateral flow tests are not to be used, so you must buy your test from a private test provider such as Fit2FlyTest.
The COVID test can be either taken in the country where you are starting your journey, or in another country en route to the UK if you are travelling that way.
After arriving in the UK
You have two days to take a PCR test after you arrive in the UK.
This PCR test needs to have been booked before you travel, and bought privately from a government-approved list of providers – which Fit2FlyTest is on.
You must self-isolate at home while you are awaiting the result of this test, regardless of your vaccination status You can stop self-isolating as soon as you receive confirmation that your test result is negative.
As well as the new rules on COVID testing, all travellers coming into the UK much also fill in a passenger locator form, even if they are just passing through, which they need to complete no more than 48 hours before their journey.
Which countries are now on the red list?
Nigeria has now been added to the UK’s travel red list, which has stricter rules od entry into the UK. It joins:
- South Africa
These countries have been added to the red list because the Omicron variant was first identified in southern Africa.
The only people allowed to enter the UK from the countries listed above are the UK or Irish nationals, or UK residents.
These people will now have to self-isolate and pay for a pre-booked government-approved hotel for 10 days – the current rates are:
- £2285 for ten days, 11 nights for one adult
- £1430 for any additional adult or child over 11
- £325 per child aged 5 to 11
How can I prove my test result and vaccination status?
Digital COVID passes showing your vaccination status are available in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
You can show test results in the form of a printed document, or an email or text on your phone. The results must be in English, French or Spanish only.
Residents of the European Union can use the EU Digital COVID certificate to show their test results or vaccination status.
What happens if I test positive for COVID while I am abroad?
You will need to follow the local rules in place in the country you are in, if you test positive for COVID while you are abroad, and not travel to the UK.
What happens if I am unvaccinated?
The current rules in the UK say that if you are aged 18 and not fully vaccinated you need to:
- Take a lateral flow or PCR test in the two days before you travel to the UK
- Take a test on or before day two and on or after day 8 of your return – our Day 2 and Day 8 testing kits are perfect for this
- Self-isolate at home for 10 days after arrival in the UK
Test to Release will also remain an option for unvaccinated passengers to England who want to shorten their quarantine.
What are the current rules in the US?
There is no quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated people, but they need to show proof of a negative test taken no more than one day before travel.
Another test is also recommended three to five days after arriving in the US.
Vaccine certificates are accepted, such as the NHS COVID pass.
Masks are mandatory in airports and on planes, and travellers must follow the state and local rules at their destination.
What’s happening in Europe?
Some European countries are also tightening their rules in response to the Omicron variant.
From 15th December, in France, over 65s must have had a booster hab to visit museums or restaurants. People from England or Wales can show they have had a third dose using the NHS COVID pass.
Rules around COVID and travelling can change quickly, for all countries and so you should keep an eye on the latest UK Foreign Office rules for your destination to see if there have been any updates.