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New COVID travel rules in the UK: Which tests do you need?

UK COVID travel rules

If you’ve got a holiday coming up soon, the recent changes to the green, amber, and red lists along with testing requirements for those travelling back into the UK might have left you wondering which tests you need to book. Testing has recently become easier for holidaymakers from the UK, with many glad to hear that they no longer need to take as many tests just to get a break in the sun. So, what are the new COVID travel rules?

Please note that this guide focuses on UK residents who wish to travel. Please check the guidelines for the country where you live and check them shortly before leaving on the trip as the requirements can change over time.

Check requirements for the country you are visiting

Before you head off, it’s important to check the testing requirements for the country that you are visiting. If you are not fully vaccinated, you will likely need to get a Fit to Fly test before you will be allowed to cross the border into most countries in the world today.

Most popular holiday destinations including Greece and Spain will accept your proof of full vaccination for entry, with no test needed. You can download this using the NHS app. Note that in most cases, at least 14 days should have passed before the date of your second vaccination.

Do you need to take a test before returning?

Before the reform of the red, amber, and green lists, UK holidaymakers were required to take a lateral flow test no more than three days before re-entering the UK, which had to be purchased privately. The good news is that these tests have now been scrapped, so if you’re travelling abroad soon, you don’t need to buy a test to take with you or find a test centre in the destination that you are visiting.

COVID travel rules: How Day Two tests work

The UK government is planning to scrap Day Two PCR tests for fully vaccinated travellers and replace them with cheaper lateral flow tests. But this is not yet in place, so if you are travelling soon, you should book a PCR test to take on Day Two after returning to the UK.

You will need to purchase a private test from a provider that has been approved by the government. The website has a list of providers you can check. You can go private with Myhealthcare Clinic for your Day Two test; Myheathcare offer a private Covid test London service and are fully approved for travel tests. They also provide Fit to Fly tests for destinations that require this, or patients that are not fully vaccinated.

What if you don’t have both vaccines?

If you’re not fully vaccinated, you will need to take significantly more tests, including a Fit to Fly test before leaving, a test to return to the UK, and PCR tests on Day Two and Day Eight after returning. You will also be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days after arriving back to the UK. You can get a ‘Test-to-Release’ test on Day Five, to end your quarantine early if the results are negative for Sars-CoV-2.

The recent changes to the COVID travel rules in the UK have made it easier to get some winter sun. Before you leave, make sure that you have your vaccination record, know the entry requirements for the country you are visiting, and have pre-booked a Day Two test for your return.

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