UK arrivals need negative pre-departure COVID test before entering UK

Posted: 7 December 2021 12:58 pm

covid19 traveling

Spread of the Omicron variant sees government reintroduce “test to return” rules from today

People travelling to the UK must once again take a COVID test and report a negative result before starting their journey.

The reintroduction of “test to return” for all travellers over the age of 12 was announced on 4 December and took effect at 4am this morning, 7 December, amid growing concerns over the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

The new rules mark a return to the requirement for a negative PCR or lateral flow test before embarking on travel to the UK – a requirement that had been dropped for fully vaccinated passengers on 4 October.

Now all travellers aged 12 and over must take a pre-departure test in the 48 hours leading up to their journey to the UK, and show the negative result before they board their flight, train or ferry.

You must buy your pre-departure test from a private test provider – you’re not allowed to use a free NHS test for this purpose. The rules apply in all 4 home nations – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Day 2 PCR tests

This latest move follows an announcement last week that all UK arrivals must now take a day 2 PCR test, instead of a lateral flow test, after entering the country. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, this applies to all those aged 5 and above; in Scotland, the starting age is 11.

Under the same rule change, everyone must self-isolate until they get their day 2 PCR result – previously those who were fully vaccinated did not have to do this. In Scotland, the isolation rule applies only to those aged 18+.

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