As of October 2021, 67% of the UK’s population has been fully vaccinated. Now that the UK vaccination and the vaccination programs worldwide are making good progress, the UK government deemed it advantageous to open international travel and relax some of its travel restrictions.
Recently, the UK has already allowed the use of the lateral flow test or the rapid antigen test for arriving international travelers. This rule applies to both fully vaccinated individuals and those under 18 who have not been from red-listed countries ten days before traveling to the UK.
The UK relaxed the rule on COVID-19 testing to make inbound travel easier. The former testing method, the PCR test, was more expensive than the new one. Using the rapid antigen test for travel cuts the costs and waiting time for the passengers. It also boosts international travel by offering a simpler and cheaper to those planning on taking holidays and breaks. This new protocol takes effect on the 24th of October, and travelers may start booking for their lateral flow test from private providers on the 22nd of October.
Eligible travelers are required to take this test upon arriving in the UK. Arriving passengers must take the test on or before day 2 of staying in the UK. After taking the test, the passengers need to take a photo of their lateral flow test and the booking reference and send these to the NHS for results verification.
Passengers testing positive on their lateral flow test must self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test. They may access a free-of-charge PCR test through the NHS Test and Trace. The NHS Test and Trace is a government-funded service in England that ensures the tracking of the spread of the virus from one person to another.
This new protocol covers returning fully vaccinated residents, as well as vaccinated travelers from over 100 countries and territories. That includes Brazil, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa, and Turkey. Travelers under 18 from these countries will also be considered fully vaccinated when coming to the UK. However, the abovementioned travelers are eligible as long as they have not visited a red list country or territory ten days before arriving in the UK (three days if in Scotland).
To qualify under the fully vaccinated rules in the UK, the traveler must have had the full course of an approved vaccine. Some of the approved vaccines are AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen. Formulations of these vaccines, like AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria, and Moderna Takeda, also qualify as approved vaccines. The traveler must have had their complete course at least 14 days before arriving in the UK.
Upon arriving in the UK, the fully vaccinated traveler must be able to prove their vaccination status. Residents returning to England may show their NHS COVID Pass. US residents traveling to the UK can show their Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card. Others may use the EU Digital COVID certificate or a vaccine certificate.
The UK has a list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination for travel. A passenger who was vaccinated with an unapproved vaccine or in a country that is not on the list needs to follow the rules for travelers who do not qualify as fully vaccinated.
Fully vaccinated and other eligible individuals are also covered in the lifting of the self-quarantine rule for travelers in the UK. Now, only those who do not qualify as fully vaccinated and those testing positive for their COVID-19 tests need to self-isolate.
Learn more about this new rule with the infographic titled “UK Lifts Quarantine Rules for Vaccinated Travellers” from Harley Medic.