Update: the UK has now returned to a pre-flight testing requirement as of December 7th, 2021. You must taken an antigen or PCR covid-19 test no more than two days before departure to travel to the United Kingdom, in addition to a PCR test for after arrival.
If you’ve been putting off a trip to the UK, you’re now running out of excuses. After a series of travel protocols which varied between the sensible and the absurd, the UK has now simplified what it takes to enter the country as a visitor.
Most notably, fully vaccinated visitors from most of the world will no longer need to take a test before boarding a flight to the United Kingdom, and can simply enter with a single form, and proof of a test scheduled for after arrival.
It’s not quite pre-covid-19 days, but it’s a whole lot easier than it’s been. Here’s what you need to know, if you’re planning a trip.
UK Drops Pre-Flight Testing, Simplifies Travel
If you’re fully vaccinated, travel to the UK is a lot easier now than it’s been in the last 18 months. People fully vaccinated by an approved country, including those in the US, EU and many more, can board a flight without the need to take a covid-19 test first.
Fear of potentially testing positive in the days before a trip and losing out on deposits have been a key blocker to leisure travel, and with epidemiological data consistently pointing to minimal risk of worst outcomes for fully vaccinated people, the UK testing requirement has been dropped accordingly.
Instead, travelers will now need two things: to book a covid-19 test for after they arrive, from an approved provider, and to fill out a passenger locator form (PLF) once they’ve booked their test. The form can only be filled out within 72 hours of departure.
There’s no need to isolate upon arrival for vaccinated visitors coming from any area that isn’t considered “red list” for travel, unless you’re symptomatic. The “day 2” test can actually be taken upon arrival, and you don’t need to wait two days to take it.
Green Or Red: A New Normal
Previous entry restrictions were incredibly complicated, even if you were paying close attention. Now, fully vaccinated visitors face a red list, or a green list. The “red list” is quite small, the “green list” is quite big, and so long as you avoid red, it’s just one test and one form to enter.
Government officials have noted that the requirement to book a PCR test for after arrival will be changed to a (much cheaper) antigen test at some point in October. Until that date, all arrivals will still be expected to pay for a PCR test. Using airline discount codes, many options exist around £45 ($60) per person.
Eventually, all testing requirements for vaccinated visitors could be scrapped entirely. For now, dropping the pre-flight test makes travel to the UK a lot more attractive, and a whole lot easier.