Latest Travel Information & Guidance
Here’s the latest on travel to and from the UK, including quarantine requirements, testing, and changes to the government’s rules for overseas destinations. We’ll update this page with news and information as we get it, so please scroll down for further details of what’s been happening across the travel sector in recent weeks.
Check here for a comprehensive explanation of the rules for those entering the UK
US confirms requirements for inbound travellers from 8 November
President Joe Biden has confirmed his country’s approach to restrictions on international travel into the United States from 8 November.
Mr Biden said: “It is in the interests of the United States to move away from the country-by-country restrictions previously applied during the COVID-19 pandemic and to adopt an air travel policy that relies primarily on vaccination to advance the safe resumption of international air travel to the United States.”
Airlines will be required to check the vaccination status of travellers before they board their flight to the US. The entry of unvaccinated non-citizen non-immigrants – those who are visiting the US or otherwise being admitted temporarily – is to be suspended.
This means that, in the majority of cases, unvaccinated travellers will not be allowed to board a plane to the US.
US visitor requirements
Starting on 8 November, non-citizen, non-immigrant air travellers (visitors) to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination status prior to boarding a plane to fly to the US, with only limited exceptions. If satisfactory proof is not forthcoming, they will not be permitted to fly.
Vaccinated travellers will also need to produce a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours prior to departure.
Unvaccinated travellers – limited to US citizens, lawful permanent residents of the US, or exempt unvaccinated foreign nationals – will need to produce a negative Covid test within one day of departure.
Fully vaccinated foreign nationals will also be able to travel across the Canadian and Mexican land borders for non-essential reasons, such as tourism, starting on 8 November.
What about children?
Children under 18 are exempt from the US vaccination requirement for foreign national travellers. This is because of the ineligibility of some younger children for vaccination and the global variability in access to vaccination for eligible older children.
However, children between the ages of 2 and 17 are required to take a pre-departure test.
If traveling with a fully-vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child can test three days prior to departure (consistent with the timeline for fully vaccinated adults).
If an unvaccinated child is traveling alone or with unvaccinated adults, they will have to test within one day of departure.
What are the exemptions for those travelling to the US?
The main exemptions from the vaccination requirements are:
- those who have a medical reason for not taking a vaccine
- those who need to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons (with a US government-issued letter affirming the urgent need to travel)
- those who are traveling on non-tourist visas from countries with low-vaccine availability/
Those who receive an exception will generally be required to comply with applicable public health requirements, including a requirement that they be vaccinated in the US if they intend to stay for more than 60 days.
Anyone unsure of their standing in relation to the new requirements should contact the US embassy for more information.
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24 October: Lateral flow option available in England from today
From today, Sunday 24 October, fully-vaccinated travellers arriving in England from a non-red list country are able to submit a lateral flow test to satisfy their Day 2 testing requirement.
The tests – which are significantly cheaper than the previously mandated PCR tests – must be booked online with a government approved supplier.
Lateral flow tests must be taken as soon as possible on the day of arrival in England or at the latest before the end of a passenger’s second day, They can be purchased from as little as £19 via the government website. PCR tests can cost upwards of £60.
Travellers must send a photo of their test result to the private provider. Failure to do so could result in a £1,000 fine. Anyone with a positive result will need to take a free NHS confirmatory PCR test and isolate.
Children under 18 can take a lateral flow test regardless of their vaccine status.
Non vaccinated travellers must continue to take PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 while in self-isolation for 10 days.
23 October: Wales Follows England With Lateral Flow Test Option From 31 October
The devolved administration in Wales has announced that, from 31 October, all fully-vaccinated travellers arriving in Wales will be able to take a lateral flow test instead of the current requirement to take a PCR test. The change to make lateral flow tests permissible in England takes effect on 24 October (see below).
With prices starting at around £30, lateral flow tests are roughly half the price of PCR tests. The lateral flow tests must be booked in advance through approved providers. NHS kit tests will not be accepted in either nation.
No announcement has yet been made by the authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Eluned Morgan, Wales’ health minister, said: “From Sunday 31 October all adults in Wales, who have completed their two-dose course of the Covid-19 vaccine, and the majority of under 18s, who have travelled from countries which are not on the red list, will be able to take a lateral flow test, on or before day two of their arrival into the UK.
“If people have a positive lateral flow test on their return from travelling overseas, they will be required to isolate for 10 days and take a follow-up PCR test. People will continue to have the option of booking and taking a PCR test as the required day two test.
“The UK Government will introduce these changes for England on Sunday 24 October. We are unable to introduce the changes at the same time as we have not received sufficient or timely information from the UK Government on how these changes will operate in practice.
“This is not ideal. However, despite the differences for a short period, Welsh residents wishing to travel will be able to do so. The only difference from English residents will be that up until the 31 October Welsh residents will need to continue to book a day 2 PCR test.”
Mr Morgan expressed concern about the UK government’s approach to testing, which dictates the rules in England: “We have consistently urged the UK Government to take a precautionary approach towards reopening international travel. However, it is difficult for us to adopt a different testing regime to that required by the UK Government, as the majority of Welsh travellers enter the UK through ports and airports in England.
“Having different testing requirements would cause significant practical problems, confusion among the travelling public, logistical issues, enforcement at our borders and disadvantages for Welsh businesses.”
He added that decisions about international travel should be taken on a “true four-nation basis. These are decisions which affect people living in all parts of the UK and we cannot make them in isolation of each other.”
22 October: Lateral Flow Tests For Fully-Vaxed Bookable From Today For England
From today, 22 October, fully-vaccinated travellers heading to England from non red list countries can book a lateral flow test to take on or before Day 2 of their arrival. Such tests may be taken from 24 October onwards.
The PCR tests required at present will still be accepted from Sunday, but as they can cost £60 or more and lateral flow tests can cost half that amount, the latter are expected to prove more popular.
Those who are not fully vaccinated, and all those returning from red list countries, must continue to take PCR tests and adhere to other requirements.
Here’s what you need to do when returning to England (note that the requirements for inbound travellers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may differ).
If you are fully-vaccinated, you must – before returning to England – book and pay for a COVID-19 test to be taken before the end of Day 2. You…
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