Travel to the UK: latest advice for overseas arrivals

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Roundabout, Castle Combe, Wiltshire, England – joe daniel price/Getty

International visitors arriving in England from overseas are subject to, for the most part, the same rules as UK residents – if they were immunised in a country with a vaccine programme recognised by our Government.

A major change came into effect on October 4 with pre-departure tests for travel to England scrapped and the green and amber list merged. The rules for all countries, other than those on the red list, now depend on the vaccination status of the traveller and whether that is recognised in the UK.

Only British or Irish nationals or passengers with residence rights in the UK are permitted to enter England if they have been in a red-listed destination in the 10 days before their arrival. Those that can enter are subject to a 10-day stay in a quarantine hotel at a cost of up to £2,285 per person. There are, thankfully, only seven places remaining on this list.

Below we outline the rules overseas visitors.

Do the rules depend on where you were vaccinated?

Yes, the UK Government recognises vaccines administered in 109 countries and territories, at the time of writing. However, travellers jabs administered elsewhere will not be accepted and fully-vaccinated travellers from these places will still face self-isolation in the UK.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport told Telegraph Travel: “We have always said we would take a phased approach to the roll out of our inbound vaccination programme to other countries and territories, building on the success of our pilot with the US and Europe.

“Decisions are made by Ministers, taking into account public health factors. These considerations include whether on the red list, vaccines used and the proportion of the population who have been fully vaccinated.

“Vaccine certification between countries and territories varies considerably. We need to ensure that certificates/apps meet our published minimum requirements on content, and that carriers are clear about the certification we shall accept.”

What tests do you need to take (if you count as fully vaccinated)?

A Day 2 test for arrival in England (to be taken on or before day two; with a traveller’s arrival day being day zero). A code is generated from the booking, which is needed to complete your passenger locator form (more on this below).

This must be booked with an approved testing provider, a list of these is provided on gov.uk.

PCR tests are required until October 24 when they will be replaced with lateral flow. The system will not be fully operational for returns until Monday October 24, but travellers will be able to book and buy lateral flow tests from Friday October 22.

Should a traveller’s Day 2 lateral flow test come back positive, they will be required to take a (free) PCR test and to self-isolate.

Are there any entry forms?

Yes, all arrivals to the UK must complete a passenger locator form. The completion of this form will generate a QR code, which travellers may be required to show both when checking-in or boarding a flight to the UK and to Border Force on arrival.

To complete this form, as it stands, all travellers must have booked and paid for a Day 2 test as the form asks for a Covid test booking reference number.

Each adult must complete their own form. You can include someone under 18 years old who is travelling with you on your form, if you are staying together at the same UK address. If you’re entering Scotland, they must be under 16.

Buttermere, Lake District National Par – George W Johnson/Getty

Is there a quarantine requirement?

No, if a traveller is: fully vaccinated (or under 18); received their jabs in a country with a vaccination programme recognised by the UK Government; tests negative in their Day 2 test.

Travellers vaccinated overseas could also face self-isolation if, while flying to the UK, they are seated next to someone who later tests positive for Covid-19. In this case, they may be contacted by test and trace via the information included in their passenger locator form.

They would then be required to self-isolate for 10 days. This is not the case for travellers who were vaccinated in the UK.

What are the rules for red list arrivals?

There are now just seven countries on the red list, they are: Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Haiti, Venezuela and Dominican Republic.

Only British or Irish nationals or individuals with residence rights in the UK can travel here from a red list country.

Those who are permitted to enter from a red list country must book and pay for a quarantine hotel package (including mandatory Covid tests, accommodation, food and drink and transportation).

The cost for a single adult traveller is £2,285. The additional rate for each adult (or child over 11) is £1,430; for a child aged 5–11 it is £325. If you have not arranged a quarantine package before arriving in England, you can be fined up to £4,000.

Red list travellers can only arrive at certain ports of entry, including: Heathrow Airport; Gatwick; London City Airport; Birmingham Airport; Bristol Airport; Newcastle Airport; Farnborough Airport and Biggin Hill Airport. Direct flights from red list countries can only arrive at Heathrow or Birmingham airports.

What are the rules for under-18s?

Children who live in a country with an approved proof of vaccination (ie a vaccine programme that the UK recognises) do not have to quarantine on arrival in England.

Those aged 4 or under do not need to take any Covid tests for travel. Those aged 5-17 must take a Day 2 Covid test (at the moment, that is a PCR test; from October 24 it can be a lateral flow).

Children aged 5-17 resident in any country not on the approved vaccination list must:

  • Take a Covid test before travel to England

  • Take a Day 2 Covid test

  • Take a Day 8 Covid test

  • Quarantine at home or in the place they’re staying for 10 days or the duration of their stay, if less than 10 days

Children aged four or under travelling from these countries do not have to take travel tests, but they must follow quarantine rules.

When is the next travel update?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps typically updates the country on the travel rules every three weeks. The next update is expected on Thursday October 28. This could see countries added or removed from the red list.

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