New Entry Rules for Travelers to the UK

From 7th December 2021, all travelers who plan to visit the United Kingdom must take a coronavirus test both before and after arrival in the country. The decision to tighten entry restrictions was caused by the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.

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On December 7th, 2021, the UK introduced new covid rules according to which every person entering the country needs to be tested both before and after the arrival. The UK government decided to implement new restrictions due to the Omicron variant, the emergence of which has caused a lot of concern worldwide. The UK also decided to put Nigeria on its travel red countries list. 

Pre-departure and on-arrival testing protocol

Tests now must be taken both before setting off for the United Kingdom and after arrival. This requirement applies to all tavelers aged 12 and older, no matter their vaccination status. Until 7 December, fully vaccinated travelers were exempt from pre-departure testing.

Travelers can take either a PCR or a lateral flow test. The test cannot be taken earlier than 48 hours of departure in order to be accepted. Travelers must use private test providers as free NHS lateral flow kits will not be recognized. The test may be taken either in the country where the passengers start their trip or in a country where they make a tranist stop on their way to the United Kingdom. 

A passenger has 2 days to take a PCR test after arrival in the UK. It is obligatory to book the test in advance of a trip and buy it privately from one of the government-recognized providers.

While waiting for the test result, a person must be self-isolated, whether vaccinated or not. The isolation ends at the moment of receiving a negative result. 

Digital Covid passes proving a vaccination status of a traveler are present in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Test results accepted in the UK can have a printed, email, or phone-text form and must be issued in English, Spanish, or French. Moreover, residents of European Union countries can use the EU Digital Covid Certificate to prove their COVID-19 test results and their vaccination status. 

UK Passenger Locator Form

Apart from testing requirements, all travelers to the UK must remember about completing a passenger locator form  no earlier than 48 hours prior to the start of their journey. The PLF must be filled out even if a passenger is only transiting through the UK. 

Passenger Locator Form is obligatory for all passengers, including those who can enter the UK visa-free. The form allows to immediately notify a traveler about potential coronavirus transmission. 

Updated Red List

Currently, the following countries are on the UK travel red list:

  • Nigeria
  • Namibia
  • Lesotho
  • Eswatini
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe
  • Zambia
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Angola

The abovementioned countries have been put on the red list since the first cases of the Omicron variant were first recorded in southern Africa. Being on the red list means the total entry ban to the UK. The only exceptions to the list are the UK and Irish nationals, or UK residents who can enter the United Kingdom when departing from one of the red list countries. Nevertheless, they will need to cover the cost of a 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel accommodation that must be booked in advance. 

Entry rules for unvaccinated adult travelers

For the time being, those who plan to enter the UK and are aged over 18 and have not been fully vaccinated, need to:

  • take a coronavirus PCR or antigen/lateral flow test (excluding free NHS tests) within 48 hours of departure to the UK
  • take a COVID-19 test on or before the 2nd day and on or after the 8th day after the return
  • undergo 10-day quarantine upon arrival in the United Kingdom

Unvaccinated travelers who wish to shorten their quarantine period after arrival in the UK can check the Test to Release option that requires taking a coronavirus test on the 2nd and 5th day of stay in the UK. If both tests are negative, self-isolation can be ended earlier.

Katarzyna Żyła
2021-12-9

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