Travelling to the UK? What test do you need? Do you need to isolate?
The UK Government have updated the travel advice from the Department of Transport on their website for travelling to the UK from abroad. The general advice for all four countries of the United Kingdom is generally the same, and you can confirm specificities at gov.uk, but here are the guidelines for travelling to England.
If you are arriving in England before 4am on Monday 18th January 2021, you are under no legal obligation to get a test before you travel. You should not be denied boarding your flight for failing to provide proof of a negative test result, and will not be fined on arrival into England, but we still encourage you to comply with this guidance and get a test if possible.
From 4am on Monday 18th January 2021, if you do not present proof of a negative test result, you may not be able to board your flight and could be fined £500 on arrival into England. You must take a test even if:
- You are a UK citizen.
- You are coming from a country on the travel corridors list.
- You must take the test in the 3 days (72 hours) before you start your journey to England. For example, if you travel on Friday, you must take a test no earlier than Tuesday.
- You will need to present the proof of your negative test before you board to travel to England.
- If you don’t present proof of a negative test result certificate, you may not be able to board any form of transport to travel to England.
- If you arrive in England without proof of a negative test result, you could be fined £500.
TEST PROVIDERS AND TYPE OF TEST:
You will need to find a test provider. You must make sure that the test provider can meet the standards for pre-departure testing.
The test must:
- meet performance standards of ≥97% specificity, ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml.
This could include tests such as:
- a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests
- An antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device.
It is your responsibility to ensure the test meets the minimum standards for sensitivity, specificity and viral load details so you must check with your test provider that it meets those standards.
You may not be able to travel if the test does not meet these standards. It is your responsibility to ensure you get the right test that meets the above requirements.
If you take your test in the UK, ahead of a return journey of less than 3 days, you must use a private test provider. You cannot use an NHS Test and Trace test.
INFORMATION THAT THE TEST RESULT MUST INCLUDE:
Your test result must be in either English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted, and you must provide the original test result certificate. It must include the following information:
- Your name, which should match the name on your travel documents.
- Your date of birth or age.
- The result of the test.
- The date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider.
- The name of the test provider and their contact details.
- The name of the test device.
If the test result does not include this information you may not be able to board, and may not be able to travel to England. If you arrive without a test result that includes this information, you will be committing a criminal offence and could receive a £500 fine.
Your test result can be provided as a physical, printed document, or via email or text message, which you can show on your phone. Make sure that your device is charged.
POSITIVE TEST RESULTS:
- If your test result is positive, you must NOT travel. You must follow local rules and guidance for positive coronavirus cases.
- If the result is inconclusive, you must take another test.
GETTING A TEST IN A COUNTRY YOU TRANSIT THROUGH:
It is your responsibility to make sure you have a valid test result to show when you board. You should not rely on being able to get a test in a country that you will transit through as part of your journey to England. It is possible that local or entry restrictions will mean you are not able to get a test.
If you don’t have a test result because you were unable to get one in a country you transited through, and you are not permitted to enter the transit country, you will be allowed to board your transport to England. But you could be fined £500 on arrival in England for not having a valid test result.
EXEMPTIONS – PEOPLE WHO DON’T NEED TO TAKE A TEST:
You do not need to take a test if you began your journey to England from:
- Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey
- Ascension, Falkland Islands, St Helena
For a limited time period, you also do not need to take a test if you began your journey to England from:
- Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia or Barbados (until 4am Thursday 21st January 2021 – you will need a test to travel on or after this date)
Children and medical reasons:
- Children aged under 11 do not need to take a test.
You do not need to take a test if you are travelling to the UK:
- For urgent medical treatment or are accompanying someone who is travelling for urgent medical treatment and it is not reasonably practical for you to obtain a negative COVID-19 test in the 3 days before departure.
- If you have a medical condition which means you cannot take a test. You must present a note from a medical practitioner at check in and to Border Force staff on arrival in England.
People doing the following jobs do not need to take a test:
- Border and customs officials.
- Channel tunnel system workers.
- Defence personnel, visiting forces and government contractors.
- Air, maritime and rail crew.
- Civil aviation inspectors.
- People transporting human cells and blood products.
- Seamen and masters and inspectors and surveyors of ships.
- Specialist technical workers doing emergency works.
Also, in limited circumstances:
- Foreign government officials.
- UK government officials conducting essential state business, essential government work or essential policing.
Passenger locator form:
You must complete a passenger locator form before you travel to England.
Self-isolating when you arrive in the UK – travel corridors:
Even though you have provided a negative test for entering the country, you must follow the rules for self-isolating when you arrive in England.
If you have been somewhere that is not on the travel corridors list in the 10 days before you arrive in England, you will need to self-isolate, regardless of your pre-departure test result.
Test to Release scheme:
You may opt into the Test to Release for International Travel scheme to shorten your self-isolation period.
The scheme is not available to anyone who has been in or through South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe in the 10 days before arrival in England. This list is kept regularly under review and therefore is subject to change.
For full details of travel to all countries of the UK, visit the website at: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus