Travel Testing: All You Need to Know
Travel Testing: All You Need to Know
On Monday 4th October 2021, the UK Government announced new rules for Arrivals testing for travellers arriving into the UK from abroad. The UK consists of 4 main nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It matters which of those countries you are arriving into as the rules may differ for each one.
The green and amber lists have been removed, leaving only a small number of countries on the red list. Mandatory hotel quarantine has not changed for arrivals from red list countries, regardless of vaccination status. But if the country you are arriving from is not on the red list, then your testing requirements will depend on whether or not you are fully vaccinated if you are an adult, and will depend on your age and country of residence if you are a child under 18.
Fully Vaccinated Adults / Resident Children
If you are a fully vaccinated adult or a resident child, you don't need to take a pre-departure test when travelling to the UK, nor fulfill any home quarantine arrangements. However, you do still need to take a Day 2 Arrivals test on or before Day 2 after your arrival into any of the UK nations. It might be a requirement that this is done by a Home Test so you would need to check the local government websites.
Non Fully Vaccinated Adults / Non Resident Children
If you are a non fully vaccinated adult then you need to take a pre-departure test before travelling to England/Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland and then do a full 10-day quarantine at the place you are staying after you arrive. You'll need to take both the Day 2 and the Day 8 test during your quarantine.
Non-resident children aged 11+ travelling to Northern Ireland also need to take a pre-departure test, and if aged 5+ take a Day 2 arrivals test as well.
Non-resident children aged 11+ travelling to Scotland need to take a Day 2 arrivals test, and all under 18s need to quarantine.
England - Test to Release from Quarantine
If you arrive into England as a non fully vaccinated arrival, and test negative on your Day 2 test, then you can also take a Day 5 Test to Release test. If you test negative for this Day 5 test as well as your Day 2 test, then you can release from quarantine early. Children isolating in your household must take this test as well if adults in the household are looking to release from quarantine. Note this test is valid for England only.
What about vaccinations?
England will also be recognising vaccines from and opening up to fully vaccinated travellers from 37 new countries, including Australia and New Zealand, Barbados, and various destinations in Asia.
If you qualify as fully vaccinated with a recognised vaccine, you'll no longer need to get a pre-departure lateral flow test to return to England. Instead, you'll simply need to take a Day 2 RT-PCR test when you return. This Day 2 test can be taken from the time of your arrival up to midnight on day 2. This also applies to children who are resident in the UK or in an approved vaccination country/state.
However, not everything is changing. As always, anyone testing positive will need to isolate immediately. In Scotland you must take a follow-up NHS PCR test which is free.
Something else that is not changing is that everybody who wants to travel to the UK will still need to fill in a passenger locator form.
Testing for anyone who is unvaccinated, partially-vaccinated or vaccinated with non-recognised vaccines who are travelling from 'safe' countries will stay the same. The option to test to release will also remain in place, giving you the chance to shorten your quarantine time - unless you're travelling from a red list country, where Test to Release will not be available.
In late October, the government will also allow passengers whose journeys require stopovers to follow safety measures from their country of departure and not from countries they pass through as part of their journey.
To sum up:
Under the new rules, those who qualify as fully vaccinated don't need:
- a pre-departure test
- a day 8 test
- to quarantine for 10 days after arrival
These changes form an important step towards normality and mean that it will be easier and cheaper to go on holiday and see friends and family - something that we've all been looking forward to.
When will the Day 2 'Antigen Lateral Flow' Arrivals Test become available for fully vaccinated arrivals?
From 24th October 2021 the Day 2 RT-PCR Arrivals Test can be replaced with a Day 2 Antigen Lateral Flow Arrivals Test. These tests can be taken at our Testing Centres, where available, or we can send a Home Test kit in the post for you to perform/report yourself. Day 2 Antigen Lateral Flow Tests will be available to book from 22nd October 2021.
To learn more about the upcoming changes, you can visit the Gov.uk website. Please bear in mind that while this information was correct at the time of posting, this is a fast-moving situation and things may change quickly. Always make sure you check the Gov.uk website for the most up-to-date information before you travel.
Children under 18 years - Arrivals Testing for England
Children's testing requirements for arrival into England depends on their age and residency.
If they are under 18 and live in the UK or a country with an approved vaccination programme, or if they are taking part in an approved UK or US COVID-19 vaccine trial, they qualify as fully vaccinated and should follow the rules for resident children for arrivals tests.
If they are under 18 and live outside the UK or outside a country with an approved vaccination programme, they are considered not fully vaccinated and should follow the rules for non-resident children for arrivals tests.