From 4am today (Monday 4 October 2021), the UK’s new travel system comes into force with countries and territories categorised as either red or the rest of the world. The “traffic light system” of red, amber and green list countries has been scrapped, leaving just red-list countries and the rest of the world. It means double-jabbed holidaymakers will no longer need to take a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non red list country nor costly PCR tests upon their return.
What are the new travel rules?
Fully vaccinated travellers arriving from non-red list countries no longer have to take a PCR or lateral flow test before setting off for the UK.
This includes people vaccinated in the UK, the EU, the US, or 18 other recognised countries. You must be able to prove that you are fully vaccinated.
Everyone under 18 – and resident in one of these countries – can also travel to the UK without taking a pre-departure test, whether or not they’ve been vaccinated. All travellers – except children under five years old – still have to book and pay for a PCR test two days after arrival.
The government says you should book this test before you travel . You also need to complete a passenger locator form.
What happens if I’m unvaccinated?
You also need to take a test on or before day two and on or after day eight after your return.
You must also self-isolate at home for 10 days after arrival in the UK.
Test to Release will remain an option for unvaccinated passengers to England who want to shorten their quarantine.
The new simplified travel system also means that eligible fully vaccinated passengers and eligible under-18s returning from over 50 countries and territories not on the red list , can do so without needing to complete a pre-departure test (PDT), a day 8 test or enter a 10-day self-isolation period, making it easier for those travelling – whether that’s to see friends and family, or on business trips.
Under-18s from the over 50 countries whose vaccination status the UK recognises will not need to present a negative PDT before travelling to England. This applies regardless of their vaccination status.All under-11s, regardless of where they are travelling from, are already exempt from pre-departure testing for arrival in the UK. If children aged 11 and over are not travelling from one of the 50-plus countries and territories where vaccines are recognised, they will be required to follow the same rules as for unvaccinated passengers.
From today, we are expanding our vaccinated policy to a further 18 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Canada. The recognised vaccines are Pfizer BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca (including Covidshield), Moderna and Janssen (J&J).
You must have had a complete course of one of the following vaccines at least 14 days before you arrive in England:
- Pfizer BioNTech
The day you have your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days. Formulations of these vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, also qualify as approved vaccines.
Proof of vaccination
You must be able to prove that you’ve been fully vaccinated under a vaccination programme with approved proof of certification.
There are several ways to prove vaccination status:
- the NHS COVID pass if you live in England
- the EU Digital COVID Certificate
- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card for US residents
- a vaccine certificate
Vaccine certificates only
If you use a vaccine certificate as proof, it must be issued by a national or state-level public health authority, be in English, French or Spanish, and include as a minimum:
- your forename and surname(s)
- your date of birth
- vaccine brand and manufacturer
- date of vaccination for every dose
- country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer
Fully vaccinated residents in other countries not yet part of the inbound policy, as well as those partially vaccinated, will still have to take a pre-departure test, PCR tests for day 2 and day 8 after arrival, and self-isolate for 10 days, with the option to test to release after 5 days.
All arrivals will still need to fill in a ahead of travel. Travellers should continue to check GOV.UK travel guidance including Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice before, during and after travel to keep up to date with entry requirements and ensure compliance with the latest COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 regulations for the country being visited. Passengers should also carefully check booking conditions prior to booking.