International travels have been drastically affected by restrictions implemented to control the spread of the coronavirus. But slowly, travelling is being relaxed to open tourism and the economy to its normal capacity. In addition to passports and visas, a traveler from another country now has to take more steps and preparations to travel to the UK.
First on the checklist is the need for a COVID-19 test before traveling to the UK. A test is necessary if the individual is not fully vaccinated or has been in a red-listed country or territory ten days prior to traveling to the UK (three days if traveling to Scotland).
The traveler can be tested using a nucleic acidic test (PCR test), LAMP test, or rapid antigen test. The test must be taken within three days from departure to the UK. Only individuals with negative test results are allowed to travel. They must show either the printed document, email, or text as proof of the negative test result.
Second, all UK travelers must complete the passenger locator form. They can access the form online and submit it within 48 hours before they arrive in the UK. They need to download or print the completed form to show upon boarding and arriving in the UK. The government will use the form to contact the passenger if someone they have traveled with develops COVID-19 symptoms.
Third, travelers must also book and pay for an arrival COVID-19 test. The test will be done on or before their second day in the UK. They are required to research for a test provider, book, and pay for it before their travel date. This is important as they need to input their COVID-19 test booking reference number in completing the passenger locator form.
Starting Oct 24, 2021, arriving travelers will be allowed to take the lateral flow test or the rapid antigen test for travel instead of the more expensive PCR test. It applies to fully vaccinated passengers and travelers under 18 who were not from countries on the red list. After testing, they have to take a photo of the results along with the booking reference and send them to the NHS for verification.
Individuals testing positive for the lateral test need to self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test. They can take the PCR test for free by ordering it through the NHS Test and Trace booking page.
Finally, upon arriving in the UK, unvaccinated travelers will have to self-quarantine for ten days. The individual must go directly to the place they’re staying, the day of arrival counting as day 0. The quarantine period lasts until 11:59 pm on day 10. Travelers staying for less than ten days will have to remain in self-quarantine for their whole stay.
Travelers who are required to self-quarantine must also book another COVID-19 test on their 8th day of quarantine. On the tenth day, they must have received the results of their test before leaving the place. They test negative on both their arrival test and their 8th-day quarantine test. They must also not be experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
Moreover, fully vaccinated travelers arriving in the UK are no longer required to self-quarantine. The traveler will have to show proof of their vaccination status using either the state-issued vaccine certificate, NHS COVID Pass (from England and Wales), NHS Scotland COVID Status app, or COVIDCert NI (North Ireland). Additional proof may be required depending on the country where they got vaccinated.
Learn more about what to do when traveling to the UK with the infographics entitled “UK Lifts Quarantine Rules for Vaccinated Travelers” by Harley Medic International.