All countries have recently been removed from the red list for travel from the UK.
The red list was reintroduced at the end of November as a precaution after the new Omicron variant of COVID was identified.
However, COVID testing rules that were put into place at the same time as the red list was introduced, remain in place – including all travellers needing to test for COVID before and after arrival into the UK.
What are the current COVID testing rules in the UK?
- All travellers to the UK aged 12 and over have to show proof of a negative COVID test – even if they have been fully vaccinated
- This test can be either a PCR test or a Lateral Flow Test – but it must be taken in the two days before travellers depart for the UK
- You must purchase your COVID tests for travel from a private provider, such as Fit2FlyTest – you cannot use the free lateral flow test from the NHS for this purpose
- The test can either be taken in the country you are in before you depart for England, on in another country en route to England (if you are travelling over land for example)
- If this test result comes back as positive, then you must follow the local rules for the country you are in, and you must not travel back to the UK
After arriving into the UK
- Once you have arrived back into the UK, you have two days to take another test – which must be a PCR test.Everyone over the age of 5 must take these tests.
- The Day 2 Testing Kit can be bought privately from any of the travel test providers on this list – including Fit2FlyTest
- While you are awaiting the result of this test, you must self-isolate – regardless of whether you are fully vaccinated or not. You can stop self-isoalting when you recieve a negative test result
- As well as taking this PCR test on day 2, all travellers must also fill in and submit an online passenger locator form, within the 48 hours of arrival into the UK – even if they are just passing through
- However, these testing rules do not apply to travellers from the Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Ireland – unless they have been in another country in the 10 days before they are travelling to the UK
Will I need to quarantine in a hotel on arrival into the UK?
This measure was previously in place for people arriving from countries that were on the government’s red list, but all countries were removed from the red list at 4 am today (15th December).
Anyone who is currently in a quarantine hotel can leave, but they must follow the same quarantine and testing rules as those travellers arriving from non-red list countries.
A decision as to whether they will now be reimbursed for their costs or not is being considered.
How can I prove my vaccination status and test results?
If you are in England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland, you can download a digital COVID pass to your smartphone.
You can show your test results as an email or text on your phone, or by using a paper document.The test results must be clear and must be in English, French or Spanish.
What if I am unvaccinated?
The current rules state that if you are not fully vaccinated, and you are over 18, you should:
- Take a COVID test – PCR or lateral flow – in the two days before you travel to the UK
- Take a test on or after Day 2 of your return, and on or after Day 8 of your return
- Self-isolate at your home for the 10 days after you arrive back in the UK
You also have the option to pay extra for a Test to Release, which can potentially shorten your quarantine period – on receipt of a negative result.
What are the testing rules in other countries?
This article talks about the testing rules as they relate to travelling to the UK from abroad. You will need to check the Foreign Office website for the entry requirements for the country you wish to visit. These can change quickly, so it is worth keeping an eye out.