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Testing for Travel and Other Requirements

Getting ready for your holidays has become a whole lot more complicated since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic. Whereas pre-Covid, you only needed to worry whether your travel insurance and passport were up-to-date, there are now numerous rules to follow both from the UK government and overseas authorities. Preparation for travel has therefore never been more important and, with that in mind, we have put together this overview of the requirements you should consider before, during and after your trip.

More comprehensive information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-abroad-from-england-during-coronavirus-covid-19, or contact our friendly team of travel experts who will be very happy to talk through any concerns or queries you may have. Several of the Mountain Kingdoms team have travelled overseas in 2021 so are well-versed in navigating travel requirements.

Latest government rules for travelling to the UK (as at 11th January 2022)

All travellers over the age of 18, arriving in the UK, are considered to be either fully vaccinated or not fully vaccinated. Currently, fully vaccinated status is defined as having received two doses of an approved vaccine (or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine).

  • Fully vaccinated travellers are required to take a lateral flow test on, or before, day 2 of their return home.
  • Travellers that are not fully vaccinated are required to take a pre-departure test in the two days before travelling to the UK, and to self-isolate at home for 10 days on arrival back to the UK, plus take day 2 and day 8 PCR tests.
  • Additionally, all arrivals to the UK must complete a Passenger Locator Form in the 48 hours before travelling back to the UK.

If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland we would advise that you check the relevant government websites as rules may vary from those for England.

Pre-holiday preparations

Testing before your trip

The UK government does not require that you test prior to travelling overseas, however you may need to arrange a test depending on the entry requirements of the country you are travelling to. This may be something you need to do before leaving the UK or when you arrive at your destination, and could be either a certified antigen test (lateral flow) or a PCR test. Your Mountain Kingdoms Operations Manager will be able to advise you on any specific destination requirements, but you can also get up-to-date information from the relevant FCDO travel advice pages: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Proof of Vaccination

Many countries now require proof of your vaccination status before allowing you entry. In England, the NHS app carries your full vaccination record and you can also request a paper alternative by calling 119. The vaccination card given when you have your jabs is not recognised as official proof of vaccination for travel. Further details are available on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/demonstrating-your-covid-19-vaccination-status-when-travelling-abroad.

Please note that the NHS app is different from the NHS Covid-19 app which is solely used for track and trace purposes and does not hold vaccination or medical records.

In Scotland you can obtain your vaccination record via the NHS Inform Patient Portal or call the Covid Status Helpline. In Wales the NHS Covid Pass provides digital proof or a printed copy can be requested from the Welsh government website.

Destination Passenger Locator Forms

There may be a requirement to complete a form in order to enter your destination country. Your Operations Manager will advise you if this is the case and how/when to complete it.

Pre-booking your return tests

Before you travel you should pre-book a day 2 lateral flow (antigen) test for when you return to the UK. This must be a paid-for test from a commercial provider with a certified result. You will be given a reference number when booking the test which you will have to enter into the Passenger Locator Form you complete before flying back to the UK (see below).

Unvaccinated travellers need to book a pre-departure test to be taken in the two days before travelling home, as well as day 2 and day 8 PCR tests.

The government provides a list of companies that carry out these tests. Be aware that costs, types of service and result times can vary considerably so you should do your research carefully. A list of providers and information on booking tests can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-abroad-from-england-during-coronavirus-covid-19#book-any-covid-19-tests-or-quarantine-hotel-packages-you-need-for-your-return

Please be aware that when returning to both Scotland and Wales the tests have to be carried out by a designated government provider.

Before returning to the UK

Testing before returning

Only unvaccinated travellers need to take a pre-departure test before returning to the UK. This can be a lateral flow (antigen) test or a PCR test.

Passenger Locator Form (PLF)

This online form must be completed by all travellers to the UK within the 48 hours of arriving back into the UK. You cannot complete the form in advance of this although you can register an account and add a few basic details. In order to complete the form you need your passport details, flight info, vaccination record and the booking reference from your pre-booked day 2 test. Once you have completed the form you will be sent a link to download a pdf of it by email. It is therefore essential that you travel with a mobile device that allows internet access.

Further details and access to the form can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/provide-journey-contact-details-before-travel-uk

Please note that, if you are checking-in to your flight online, you may need to upload the forms onto your airline's website (or app) in order to complete the check-in process. If you are unable to do this, then you should complete your check-in at the airport.

Arriving back in the UK

To clear customs at your UK airport ensure that you have to hand your proof of vaccination status, Covid test result (unvaccinated travellers only) and your Passenger Locator Form (digital or paper versions) in case additional verification is required.

Finally, you will need to carry out your pre-booked Covid test on, or before, day 2 of your return (the day you arrive back in the UK is counted as day 0). If this test proves positive you will have to take a further PCR test and self-isolate in accordance with government guidelines.

Non-vaccinated travellers will need to self-isolate for up to 10 days and take further PCR tests.

This information was updated on 11th January 2022

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