What are the UK travel rules from October 4?

© Dan Kitwood Travelers arriving at Gatwick Airport in London. The UK’s traffic light system for international travel will be replaced with a measures on October 4. Getty Images

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The UK government has confirmed it will overhaul its Covid travel rules for England from October 4 when its traffic light system will be replaced with a new suite of measures, including fewer testing requirements.

Out will go the green and amber lists, leaving only a single red list in place – an announcement which has lit the touch paper under holiday bookings since it was made on Friday.

Online flight booker Skyscanner reported a 133 per cent spike in traffic in the 30 minutes that followed, while Tui reported “an uptick in bookings” for Turkey for the October half-term holiday.

The last changes to England’s existing three-list travel system will come into force on September 22 when eight countries, including Turkey, Bangladesh and Pakistan, will be removed from the red list.

UK travel: final green, amber and red lists

Do I need a PCR test for travel from October 4?

For many fully vaccinated travellers from non red-list countries, out too will go the need to pay for PCR testing. Instead, they will only need to take a free lateral flow test on or before day two of their arrival in England.

The system is less straightforward than it first appears, however, as only fully vaccinated travellers who have received shots from an approved list of countries will qualify to travel under the UK’s new rules.

England travel rules from October 4 from red-list countries

If a country is on the red list, then the 10-day hotel quarantine, at a cost of £2,285 ($3,137) per person, still applies. This includes two Covid tests to be taken before day two and on or after day eight.

Travellers must also take a pre-departure Covid test at least three days before travel and a passenger locator form must be filled in at least 48 hours before travel.

England travel rules from October 4 for the fully vaccinated

Fully vaccinated travellers from countries on an approved vaccine list travelling from non red-list countries will no longer need to take a PCR test before they travel and only need to take a lateral flow test on or before the second day of their return.

They must fill out a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before arriving in England.

They do not need to take a pre-departure test, take a day eight Covid test, or quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days upon arrival in England.

They also must be able to prove they have been fully vaccinated for 14 days with either a digital or paper-based document displaying, at a minimum, their forename and surname; date of birth; vaccine brand and manufacturer; date of vaccination for every dose; country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer.

If the document does not display this information, then they must follow rules for non-vaccinated travellers or risk being denied the right to board their flight.

Fully vaccinated travellers from the US will need to prove they are US residents.

England travel rules from October 4 for the non-vaccinated

For those who are unvaccinated or do not qualify under the fully vaccinated rules, a pre-departure test must be taken three days before travel to England.

They must also book and pay for day two and day eight tests to be taken after arrival in England and a passenger locator form must be filled in within 48 hours before travel.

After arrival in England, they must quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days and take the pre-booked Covid tests before day two and on or after day eight.

If either of these tests are positive, then they will need to take a confirmatory PCR test at no additional cost.

If they test negative, they may be able to end quarantine early through the Test to Release scheme.

Which countries will be on the UK’s approved vaccine provider list?

Although the amber list will be nominally abolished from October 4, it will remain in all but name for the countries not on an approved list.

Travellers who have a valid vaccination certificate from 17 countries and territories will be treated as if they had been vaccinated in the UK and can follow the rules for fully vaccinated travellers.

The vaccines approved for entry to the UK are those from Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen.

The countries and territories approved to administer them outside of Europe by a relevant public health body from October 4 are: Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

If a fully vaccinated traveller from these countries or territories has received mixed does of the approved vaccines, that is deemed permissible.

What are the travel rules for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from October 4?

The other countries in the UK have adopted three distinct positions regarding England’s new travel system.

To date, Wales has implemented the same rules as England to keep things as simple as possible, but it looks likely to diverge come October 4.

The Welsh government has said the slated changes will increase the risk of new and emerging Covid variants. It will continue to advise on international travel only in exceptional circumstances.

By contrast, the Northern Ireland government looks set to scrap the traffic light system and follow England in lockstep from October 4.

Scotland is taking more of a halfway-house approach. While it too will abolish the green and amber lists, it will keep the need for pre and post-arrival PCR tests.

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