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Covid: What are the new travel rules in England?

The current Covid testing requirements for travellers coming into England and Scotland are set to be replaced by new travel rules on 11 February.

As Plan B rules in England are being halted, so too are foreign travel rules being revised. The rules for travelling to England and Scotland are about to see a major overhaul next month. Although no announcements have been made regarding the travel rules update in Wales and Northern Ireland, similar revisions are expected.

A Man on Holiday after the New Travel Rules Introduction

What are the new travel rules from 11 February?

The main changes to be introduced for travellers arriving in England and Scotland will see a significant reduction in testing requirements. Naturally, the rules will be different according to the travellers’ vaccination statuses.

Arrivals who qualify as fully vaccinated and under-18s will no longer be legally bound to take Day 2 test under the new travel rules. On the other hand, passengers who are not fully vaccinated will still need to take a Day 2 PCR test; however, they will no longer be required to take a Day 8 test, nor will they need to self-isolate on arriving in England or Scotland.

New travel rules for fully vaccinated travellers

From 11 February, passengers who are fully vaccinated and everyone under the age of 18 years:

  • Will no longer need to take COVID-19 tests before or after travelling to England or Scotland
  • Will not be required to self-isolate upon arrival
  • Only need to complete the passenger locator form before arriving in the UK

New travel rules for unvaccinated travellers

When arriving in England or Scotland, travellers who are not fully vaccinated (or do not qualify as such) will have to:

  • Provide evidence of a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken no more than two days before departing for England
  • Book a Day 2 PCR test: to be taken within two days after arriving in the UK
  • Complete a passenger locator form before arriving in the UK (Day 2 PCR test booking details must be included in the passenger locator form)

According to the new travel rules, unvaccinated passengers will not be required to self-isolate unless they test positive on their Day 2 PCR test.

A Woman on Holiday after the Introduction of the New Travel Rules

How to prove your vaccination or test status when entering the UK?

Much of the new travel rules revolve around whether a passenger is fully vaccinated or not. It is very important to be able to prove if you are fully vaccinated.

You can use digital Covid passports like the NHS COVID Pass if you have had your jabs in the UK. You can access further information on digital Covid passports according to where you received your vaccines:

Residents of the European Union can use the EU Digital Covid Certificate as evidence of their vaccination status or to show their test results.

Inbound travellers to the UK, who received their vaccines in other approved countries or territories, can present a vaccine certificate ‘issued by a national or state-level public health authority’.

COVID-19 test results can be presented in an email or text form on a smartphone or as a printed copy.

Rules for travelling to the UK before 11 February

Until the new travel rules kick in next month, travellers must still adhere to the present restrictions.

If you are fully vaccinated

The current foreign travel rules require fully vaccinated travellers to take a Day 2 test after arriving in the UK. These can either be lateral flow tests or PCR tests. However, the tests must be booked in advance. The reason is that the test booking details must be included in the passenger locator form – which must be completed within 48 hours before departure.

Fully vaccinated travellers need only self-isolate if their Day 2 tests come back positive. In the event that they had taken a Day 2 lateral flow test, then a positive test result must be confirmed via a PCR test.

If you are not fully vaccinated

Travellers who do not qualify as fully vaccinated must take a COVID-19 test in the two days before departing for the UK. During this time, they must also fill in the online passenger locator form.

Unvaccinated passengers must self-isolate for ten days after arrival. While doing so, they must take PCR tests on Days 2 and 8. The tests must be bought beforehand as a test booking confirmation reference is a required field in the passenger locator form.

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