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Pre-departure tests, day 2 PCRs and self-isolation scrapped for travellers into the UK

The new rules come into effect on Friday 7 January

Pre-departure tests, day 2 PCRs and self-isolation scrapped for travellers into the UK

The government has announced that vaccinated travellers returning into England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales will no longer be required to take pre departure tests. Day 2 testing have also eased – here’s what you need to know.

Testing and isolation rules for vaccinated holidaymakers returning from green list countries have been changed again.

In the latest update, which took place on 5 January, it was announced that fully vaccinated UK travellers (plus those under the age of 18) arriving from 4am on Friday 7 January will no longer need to take a pre-departure test.

Additionally, fully vaccinated travellers and those under the age of 18 will no longer be required to self-isolate on their return if returning after Friday 7 January.

Meanwhile the requirement to take a PCR test was eased for those arriving after 9 January, stipulating that travellers may choose to take a lateral flow instead. However, if the lateral flow test comes back positive, travellers will be required to take a free NHS PCR test and self-isolate until getting a negative result.

The rule change was first announced for travellers entering England, but Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have all followed suit.

What are the current UK travel rules?

Until the rules change all travellers – including fully vaccinated individuals returning from green list destinations into the UK must follow the below regulations.

It’s worth noting that stricter travel rules are in place for unvaccinated travellers, and those returning from a red list country.

  • Book a private day 2 PCR test to be taken on your return to the UK
  • Complete a passenger locator form within 48 hours before arriving in the UK.
  • Take a pre departure Covid test (PCR or lateral flow) within 48 hours of travelling to the UK. The government website instructs travellers to take a test within two days of travelling to England. However, it’s possible that your carrier may be working to a 48 hour timeframe, which ends up shortening the length of time you can leave between testing and landing in the UK. Because of that, we’d advise sticking to the shorter timeframe of 48 hours where possible. Otherwise, check with your airline to ensure your planned testing timeframes will be valid at the time of travelling.

 

What are the new UK travel rules?

From 7 January at 4am, testing rules ease for fully vaccinated people and those under the age of 18. Those in this group returning to the UK must:

  • Book a private day 2 lateral flow or PCR test to be taken on your return to the UK
  • Complete a passenger locator form within 48 hours before arriving in the UK.
  • If your day 2 lateral flow comes back positive, take a free NHS PCR test and self-isolate until getting a negative result.

Can I use a free NHS test?

No, you must book a private test. When doing so, you’ll receive a code which you’ll be asked to include in your passenger locator form.


Looking for cheap Covid tests? We mystery shopped cheap providers to find firms you can trust


What else do I need to know?

It’s worth bearing in mind that your destination may have its own entry requirements, and you may need to take tests before and/or after arriving in the country. Some countries, though on the UK’s own green list, may not be accepting travellers from the UK. At present, territories banning flights from the UK include Hong Kong and France.

Where can I get a cheap day 2 test?

We’ve mystery shopped the best cheap day 2 test providers to help you pick a travel test that won’t let you down. Read more about our mystery shop in our travel advice section.

When is the next update?

Grant Shapps has confirmed that the rules will be in place until the end of January “to ensure a stable system is in place for 2022”.

Which? Travel

Do I need currently need a test to travel from Ireland to UK?

No. Those travelling to the UK from the Common Travel Area, which includes Ireland, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Ireland are exempt from the rules. However, UK residents do currently need a test to travel to Ireland.

Do children need to take pre departure tests before returning to UK?

Children aged 11 and younger do not need to take a test before returning to UK. Those aged between 12 and 17 will, however, need to take a test.

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