International travel was given the green light in May 2021 but visitors to and from the UK are still required to quarantine and carry out regular Covid tests before and once they enter the border.
What you need to do however depends on where you’ve been for the 10 days before you enter the UK. Here, we explain exactly what to expect when entering and how you can end your isolation early with Test to Release kits.
Before you enter the UK
Everyone entering the UK must have evidence of a negative Covid test that was taken in the past three days. You’ll also need to book a Covid test to be taken in the UK and complete the passenger locator form. Containing relevant contact and journey details, this will be checked at any borders including at the check-in for planes, trains and ferries.
The form will be used to contact you should someone you’ve travelled with develop symptoms.
Quarantining in the UK
Whether or not you need to quarantine or self-isolate when entering the UK depends on where you’ve been for the 10 days prior to travelling. Those coming from green countries must book a Covid test to be taken after arrival. Amber list countries require two tests — one for arrival and one for during quarantine.
Those coming from red countries — who are required to quarantine in a hotel — need to book a hotel quarantine package which includes two tests. Currently, you’re not allowed to enter the UK if you’ve been to or travelled through a red country, unless you have citizen rights.
These rules apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. However, children under the age of four don’t need to take any tests upon arrival in England. You also don’t need a test if you’ve travelled within the UK, from Ireland or from the Falkland Islands, St Helena or Ascension.
If you’re travelling from an amber country, you may also be able to end your quarantine early with a Test to Release kit. Certain jobs in uk may also mean that you’re exempt from the travel and entry requirements.
Test to Release
Those travelling from an amber country may be able to end their quarantine early thanks to the Test to Release Scheme. However, you’re still required to take the two tests that you booked before travelling.
This scheme is only available after you’ve been in England for five days and have quarantined for those days. Unfortunately, it’s not an option if you’ve travelled from a red country in the 10 days before you arrived in England.
To book, you’ll need to arrange a test with a provider and highlight that you’re using the Test to Release Scheme on the passenger locator form. This is completely different from the NHS Test and Trace. If your Test to Release is negative, you can stop quarantining. If it’s positive, you need to quarantine for another 10 days.
While these are the current guidelines, things could change if cases rise and more countries are added to the amber list. It’s therefore important to keep up with the government legislation and make sure you’re adhering to social distancing measures at all times.