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Pre-departure testing removed for vaccinated travellers

From 4am on Sunday 9 January, eligible fully vaccinated travellers will be able to take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR on or before day 2 of their arrival in England. Lateral flow tests for travel can be booked from Friday 7 January and taken upon arrival, by the end of day 2.

Eligible fully vaccinated passengers and under 18s will no longer need to take a pre-departure test or self-isolate on arrival in England from 4am on Friday 7 January but must continue to take their post-arrival tests.

Anyone who receives a positive result on their lateral flow test must self-isolate immediately and order a NHS PCR test from GOV.UK. Positive PCR tests for arrivals will be sequenced to understand if and where variants are emerging around the globe.

Lateral flow tests for international travel must be purchased from a private provider as NHS Test and Trace lateral flow tests cannot be used for international travel. Passengers who have already bought a PCR to use for travel do not need to buy another test as PCRs can still be used.

Unvaccinated passengers must continue to take a pre-departure test, PCR test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 and self-isolate for 10 days. ‘Test to release’ remains an option for unvaccinated people to shorten their self-isolation period.

No countries have been added to the UK travel red list, which remains on standby. A further review of all travel measures will be carried out later in the month.

Background information

PCR tests can be accessed free of charge by ordering in the usual way through NHS Test and Trace – via nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.  Test providers will be expected to advise people to self-isolate and direct people towards the NHS Test and Trace booking page.

This is separate to the earlier decision made by the UK Health Security Agency to temporarily suspend confirmatory PCR tests in the community in the UK.

Under the Test to Release scheme, unvaccinated travellers can choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test on day 5. If the result is negative (and the result of the day 2 test result is negative) they can end their quarantine.

More Information

See ALP Brief 246: Travelling to the UK during the Coronavirus Pandemic

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