Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or have decided that you’re ready to start venturing abroad again, the everchanging guidance on what you can do can seem confusing.
In this article, we’ll be outlining what you need to think about when planning to travel abroad based on the updated government guidance for 10th January 2022 with handy links and advice.
Before you travel out of the U.K.
Travel guidance is different for every country - check yours here
Every country has their own entry requirements. You must follow these to be allowed access. There is no ‘one size fits all’ application process.
It’s important to be aware that there are often different requirements depending on your vaccination status, and while being fully vaccinated may remove the need to quarantine in some countries, it does not exempt you from following the requirements. You’ll likely still need to complete online forms and get a pre-departure/ Fit to Fly pre-flight PCR or Lateral Flow Test, also known as an Antigen Test .
You can search for your destination-specific requirements below:
Click here to search for the most up to date guidance for your holiday destination.
What COVID-19 tests do I need for my holiday?
Every country has their own list of guidance, you can find the list here. This is a list of the guidance for a fully vaccinated adult who is planning to visit Italy on 10th January (the guidance can change daily so make sure you check regularly).
Using guidance outlined on the 10th of January to gain access to Italy you must:
- Provide evidence of your COVID-19 status. This means they need to know whether you are fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, unvaccinated, or have recently recovered from COVID-19. For this you’ll need the NHS COVID pass. The cards from your vaccination appointment will not be accepted.
- Complete the Passenger Locator Form (EU PLF) before you travel. On completion, you’ll receive a QR code that you’ll need to show your travel provider and the border police. Most countries have their own version of this form so make sure you fill in the right one.
- Provide evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours before admission into Italy or a negative LFD / Antigen test taken with 24 hours before entering Italy. This is commonly referred to as the pre-departure/ Fit to Fly test. You must take a private test as these come with additional information needed to gain access. Never use the NHS tests for travel.
(If you’re not fully vaccinated you are still able to visit Italy, but there are a number of additional requirements which you can find here).
Make sure you check these very regularly as they can (and will) change at a moments notice, and remember these guidelines are different for every country so don’t assume you know what is needed. Check here first.
Do I need a pre-departure/ Fit to Fly PCR test? Or can I use the Lateral Flow Test also known as the COVID Rapid Antigen Test?
Some countries still accept Lateral Flow Test / COVID Rapid Antigen Tests. The PCR test is the most common requirement. NHS Lateral Flow Tests are not valid. You can get travel Lateral Flow / COVID Rapid Antigen Tests here.
Make sure the Lateral Flow Test / COVID Rapid Antigen Test is accepted by your travel destination by checking their entry guidance here.
Can I get a free PCR from the NHS to travel?
The government-funded PCR tests are not allowed for travelling. They are for people who are symptomatic or have been in recent contact with someone who has tested positive.
The Fit to Fly PCR certificate includes additional information that is required by most countries for access. The Fit to Fly PCR test includes a UKAS accredited lab report which is not available with the free NHS service. You’ll need to pay for a private lab to process your results.
You can get your UKAS accredited Fit to Fly test kit delivered to your home with next day results delivered to your phone when you click here.
Coming home - guidance for returning to the U.K. from your holiday
What you need to do when you come back depends on your vaccination status and where you have been.
If you have travelled to a red list country then skip to that section below as different rules apply. At the time of writing on 10th January, there are no countries on the red list.
UK entry requirements
It is important to note that you need to have several things organised before your return in order to gain access when you land back in the U.K. even if you’re a fully vaccinated U.K. citizen.
Before you fly home (while you’re still on holiday)
- There is no need to take a COVID-19 test before your journey back to the UK, whether by plane, boat or car.
- You need to complete a Passenger Locator Form in the 48 hours before you return home (you’ll need the booking number of the COVID tests you’ve advance booked - see point below).
- If you are fully vaccinated you need to have booked a Lateral Flow test / Rapid antigen test before you fly home. This is to allow enough time for delivery of the kit to your home so you can test within 48 hours of arrival back in the UK. You must self isolate until you receive a negative result.
Book your Lateral Flow test / Rapid antigen test now with a U.K. Government listed provider of the Day 2 PCR test - and remember to keep the booking number to use in your Passenger Locator Form.
When you arrive home back into the UK.
The guidelines for England are to take a Lateral Flow test as soon as you arrive home, by the end of day 2 at the latest, but the requirements are different depending on your vaccination status.
There are also difference depending on where you land in the U.K.
Arriving in in the UK when you’re fully vaccinated
- You must have ordered your Lateral Flow / rapid antigen testing kit before you arrive home and test within 2 days. You must quarantine until you receive a negative result.
- If you test positive, you must quarantine for 10 days according to government guidelines. It’s important to note that the day you take your test is classed as Day 0 so this is 11 days including the day you submitted your test.
Note: If you test positive using a LFD / rapid antigen test, you must also take a PCR test. The PCR test can be obtained from the NHS free of charge under this circumstance.
Arriving in in the UK when you’re not fully vaccinated or are unvaccinated.
- Take a COVID-19 test within 48 hours before you travel to England.
- You must have ordered your PCR testing kit before you arrive home and test within 48 hours.
- You must quarantine for 10 days regardless of the result.
- You must also submit another sample for PCR testing on Day 8. This is commonly known as the Day 8 PCR Test.
- There are exemptions to these rules if you are for example, the child of two vaccinated parents.
Note: The UK Government guidance for people with non-vaccinated status specifies the Day 2 and Day 8 tests must still be a PCR test,
What is Test to Release? Can I get out of quarantine early?
If you are not fully vaccinated, you need to quarantine for 10 days… but there is an option to release from quarantine earlier if you fulfil certain criteria.
At the time of publishing, these criteria are:
- You have not visited a red list country (see below) in the 10 days before arrival in the U.K.
- You tested negative (or inconclusive) in your Day 2 PCR test
- You have taken a (privately purchased) additional PCR test on Day 5 of your quarantine and the result has come back negative.
This Day 5 test is an optional additional test you can purchase to try to release from the 10-day quarantine early. You still need to take the Day 8 PCR.
Check the most up to date guidance here on the Governments guidance page.
Arriving from a red list country
The Government holds a list of countries and territories that are high risk for entry to the UK and therefore rules are more stringent - you can find the list of UK Government assigned red countries and territories by clicking here.
The guidance for arriving from a red list country is very strict.
As at the time of writing on 10th January, there are no countries on the red list. However, this can change at short notice and we recommend that you check on a regular basis.
Additional protocols include the requirement that you arrive at one of the designated airports, and pre-booked a quarantine package. At the time of writing, the managed quarantine package for one adult costs £2,285 (as stated on December 18th 2021).
There will also be additional restrictions if you travel to other countries. Many countries have additional protocols in place if you have recently visited a red list country (usually within the preceding 10 days - even if you’re not travelling into the country directly.
The guidelines to enter every country and territory are determined by the country and territory itself. This guidance can change with only a moments notice, therefore it is imperative that you check the Government website for the most up-to-date guidance for the place you are travelling to, including the U.K.
Do not use the NHS tests for travel, they will not be accepted. Use a recognised provider like us here at Webmed Pharmacy, who are on the list of government- providers of the day 2 and day 8 PCR tests. And if you’re unsure what you need, you can call our Superintendent Pharmacist Margaret on 0161 491 1899 and she will help you order the right kit for your needs.
Get your travel ready COVID-19 testing kits here.