Costly PCR tests to be scrapped for fully-vaccinated travellers

To the relief of many families away on half-term holidays, the UK government has announced that fully vaccinated travellers arriving into England from non-red list countries will no longer need to take the expensive day 2 PCR test.

New testing & quarantine rules for travellers arriving in the UK © Oleksandr Dibrova - Adobe Stock Image
New testing & quarantine rules for travellers arriving in the UK © Oleksandr Dibrova - Adobe Stock Image

From 24 October 2021, fully vaccinated travellers will only be required to take a far more affordable antigen lateral flow test. A list of authorised providers will be released via the gov.uk website on 22 October 2021.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Taking away expensive mandatory PCR testing will boost the travel industry and is a major step forward in normalising international travel and encouraging people to book holidays with confidence."

Need to book a Covid-19 test? Look no further than our collection of offers on testing from authorised suppliers.

UK travel red list cut to 7 countries

The UK government has updated the Covid-19 travel list for arrivals entering the UK from overseas. A total of 47 countries have been moved to the Rest of the World (ROW) list leaving just seven countries on the Red list.

From 4am on Monday 11 October 2021, the following countries will be removed from the Red list and placed on the Rest of the World (ROW) list. If you arrive in the UK after this time, the new rules apply.

  • Afghanistan
  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burundi
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • Congo-Kinshasa
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Eritrea
  • Eswatini
  • Ethiopia
  • French Guiana
  • Georgia
  • Guyana
  • Indonesia
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mayotte
  • Mexico
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Rwanda
  • Reunion
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Suriname
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Uruguay
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

The remaining countries on the Red list are:

  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Haiti
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Venezuela

View UK travel list >>

New rules for travellers arriving in the UK

The 'traffic light system' for international arrivals was replaced with a simpler two tier system with Red list countries and the Rest of the World (ROW) on Monday 4 October 2021. All green and amber list countries were consolidated into the ROW list

Please note: changes have come into force in England. Please be sure to check the specific travel restrictions if you're leaving from/arriving in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

ROW list countries

The rules for those arriving from ROW countries differ for fully vaccinated travellers and non-vaccinated travellers. This includes the requirements for testing and quarantine.

Fully vaccinated & children

The rules for travellers who are fully vaccinated, exempt or under 18 arriving from ROW countries are:

  • Complete passenger locator form
  • No pre-departure test in destination
  • PCR test required on or before day 2
  • No quarantine required

Vaccinations must be from the UK vaccine programme or recognised overseas programme at least 14 days before you arrive in England. Proof of vaccination status is required with an appropriate Covid-19 passport or certification.

From late October, day 2 PCR tests will be replaced with cheaper lateral flow tests for fully vaccinated travellers. More details on timings and requirements will be released by the UK government in the coming weeks.

Not fully vaccinated

The rules for travellers who aren't fully vaccinated arriving from ROW countries are:

  • Complete passenger locator form
  • Pre-departure test in destination
  • PCR test required on or before day 2 & day 8
  • Quarantine at home for 10 days required
  • Option to use 'Test to Release' scheme to shorten quarantine (England only)

Browse ROW list >>

Red list countries

All foreign travellers who have been in or through red-listed countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry to the UK. All British and Irish nationals, including people with the right to live in the UK, must quarantine in government approved hotels for 10 days.

  • Complete passenger locator form
  • Pre-departure test in destination
  • PCR test required on or before day 2 & day 8
  • Quarantine in hotel for 10 days required

Browse red list >>

For a full summary of Covid-19 statistics and regulations by country, and to compare destinations around the world, visit our interactive Covid-19 travel planner.

The next UK government review of the UK travel list is due to take place on Wednesday 28 October 2021.

Updated on Thursday 14 October 2021

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