The rules for travel testing were recently changed again by the UK government, with the new rules coming into effect as of 4th October 2021. The traffic light system is no more, and the new lists are now ‘Red’ versus ‘the rest of the World’. The main change is that it is now the status of the individual traveller that determines the type of COVID test that is needed, rather than the status of the country from which they are arriving.
The rules are explained below, and we have divided them into rules for the vaccinated, rules for the unvaccinated and rules for children for ease.
Red vs The Rest of the World List
From 4th October, the traffic light system looked a little different as the Green and Amber lists were merged to become the “rest of the world” lists, also known as the non-Red list.
This was then changed again on the 1st November, with all countries being removed from the red list for travel to England.
What you must do now, depend entirely on whether you qualify as fully vaccinated.
Vaccinated Travellers arriving in the UK
Fully vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK no longer need to take a pre-departure test but do still need to take a day 2 test after arrival (to be taken before the end of day 2 in England).
Before the 24th of October, this day 2 test had to be a PCR test, but the government has now said that it can be either a PCR test or a lateral flow test.
You must also complete a passenger locator form 48 hours before you arrive in the UK, and enter your COVID-19 test booking reference number on your passenger locator form.
In order to count as being “fully vaccinated” you should have had the second dose of your vaccine at least 14 days before your arrival to the UK. The government has a list of approved vaccines which consists of:
- Oxford / AstraZeneca
- Pfizer BioNTech
And they have recently announced that from 4 am on the 22 November, the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL) vaccines will also be accepted, and these are:
- Sinopharm Beijing
Other formulations of these vaccines, such as the AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, also qualify as approved vaccines.
If you have only had one dose of a 2 dose approved vaccine or you have been vaccinated in a country that is not on the approved list, then you do not count as vaccinated in the UK governments eyes and so must follow the rules for unvaccinated travellers.
Fit2Fly offer the following products for fully vaccinated arrivals:
Arrivals into the UK who are unvaccinated
Travellers who the UK government considers unvaccinated include:
- Those people who have not had any dose of an approved vaccine
- Those people who have had only one dose of a two-dose vaccine
- Those people who have been vaccinated on a country not on the approved country list
- Those people who have been vaccinated with a non-approved vaccine
If you are travelling to the UK and you are unvaccinated then you must:
- Take a pre-departure test in the three days before you board your flight to the UK – this test can be either a PCR or a Lateral Flow Test
- Book and pay for day 2 and day 8 PCR testing kits to be taken in the 48 hours after you arrive in the UK
- Complete a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK
Once you arrive in the UK you must:
- Quarantine at home for 10 full days
- Take your day 2 and day 8 COVID tests. The day 2 test must be taken on or before day 2 (with the day you arrive being day 0) and the day 8 test must be taken on or after day 8.
- You can opt to take a Test to Release test on day 5 to be able to leave quarantine early (if you recieve a negative result)
Fit2FlyTest offer the following products for not fully vaccinated arrivals:
What tests for travel do children need?
The travel testing requirements for children arriving in the UK depends on their age and country of residence, however, this is going to change at 4 am on the 22nd of November as it will no longer take their country of residence into account.
Children aged 17 and under who are residents in the UK or a country with approved proof of vaccination do not have to quarantine on arrival in the UK, whether they are vaccinated or not. Children aged 4 and under also do not have to take any COVID-19 travel tests. If they are aged 5 to 17, they do not have to take a COVID-19 travel test before they travel to the UK, but they must take a test on or before day 2 – with the day they arrive being classed as day 0.
If they are residents in a country that is not on the approved list of vaccination list they must
- take a covid-test before travelling to the UK (if they are aged 11 and above)
- take a COVID test on or before day 2 in the UK
- take a COVID test on or after day 8 in the UK
- quarantine at home or wherever they are staying for 10 full days
Children aged 4 and under do not have to take COVID travel tests.
Tests for travelling out of the UK
Before you travel out of the UK to any foreign destination you should check the foreign travel advice page for your chosen destination on the UK government’s website.
This site will let you know the type of test that will be accepted as a requirement for entry into your destination. In most cases, it will be either a Lateral Flow Test or a Rapid Antigen Test. It is important to check, however, as some countries have specific requirements about the PCR test (such as it must be an RT-PCR test) or Lateral Flow Test (such as the ones that are accepted by the EU).
Fit2Fly offer the following products for travel out of the UK:
- PCR Fit to Fly Test (with digital certificate included)
- Pre departure Lateral Flow Test for UK outbound travel
We hope this clarifies the current guidelines around travel testing.