The COVID testing rules for people travelling to the UK have recently been relaxed.
The UK government announced the changes and said that they were now possible because the Omicron variant is now “widespread and worldwide.”
What COVID tests for travel do fully vaccinated passengers need?
The new rules for COVID testing for travel apply to fully vaccinated passengers (who have had two doses of the vaccine) and anyone under the age of 18 – these people will now no longer need to take a pre-departure test two days before travelling to the UK.
However, everyone aged five and over (or 11 and over in Scotland) must take a lateral flow test (LFT) or a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival.
The lateral flow test must be brought from a private provider such as Fit2FlyTest – free NHS tests cannot be used for the purposes of foreign travel.
If you take an LFT test and it returns a positive result, then you must self-isolate and take a PCR test to confirm the result.
Vaccinated travellers also need to fill in and submit an online passenger locator form no more than 48 hours after arriving in the UK, even if they are just passing through.
What are the travel rules for everyone else?
All unvaccinated travellers to the UK must complete a passenger locator form and take an LFT or a PCR test in the 48 hours before departure.
This test can either be taken in the country where your journey is starting, or in another country you are passing through en route to the UK.
If this test comes back with a positive result, then you must follow the COVID rules for the country you are in, and you must not travel onwards to the UK.
If you have not had both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine then you must quarantine for 10 days after you arrive in the UK.
You must also take two PCR tests – on day 2 and day 8 of your quarantine. These tests must be booked before travelling to the UK and must be privately bought from a provider such as Fit2FlyTest.
Travellers to England are also able to end quarantine early under the Test to Release scheme which involves taking private PCR tests after five days of isolation. A negative result from this test will allow you to leave quarantine early, although you still need to take another PCR test on day 8.
These rules do not apply to travellers from the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Ireland unless they have been in another country in the ten days before they are travelling to the UK.
How can I prove my vaccination status and test results?
If you are in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales you can download a Digital COVID pass showing your vaccination status to your phone.
You can show your test results as an email or text on your phone, or in the form of a printed document. The test results must be in English, French or Spanish,
Residents of the European Union can use the EU digital COVID certificate to show their vaccination status or test results.
What about other countries’ rules?
The easiest way to find the entry requirements for the country you are planning on visiting is to check the UK Foreign Office website. It is worth checking this site regularly as travel rules are changing so quickly at the moment.
COVID passes issued in the UK can be used to show proof of vaccination throughout the EU – either digitally or as a printed download (as long as it is dated later than the 1st of November 2021).
Fit2FlyTest has accredited laboratories offering day 2 and day 8 PCR tests and test-to-release tests as well. Cut out the middleman and help us help you to get back to doing what you enjoy.