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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.

Destination classification

As of the 4th October, the traffic light classification system will be replaced by a simpler system of red list destinations and non-red (rest of the world) destinations.

At that point, fully vaccinated travellers returning to the UK from any non-red destination will no longer be required to take a Covid test before they fly back home. From the end of October, fully vaccinated travellers will only need to take a lateral flow test (also called an antigen test) on day 2 of their return to the UK – this must be a certified test purchased from a commercial provider. If this test proves positive the individual will then have to isolate and take a free confirmatory PCR test provided by the government.

Travellers returning from non-red countries, that are not fully vaccinated, will still be required to take a pre-departure test whilst in their holiday destination, isolate for 10 days, and take day 2 and day 8 PCR tests (with the option to reduce isolation with a day 5 PCR test).

Anyone travelling from a red list country, will need to enter a government approved hotel on arrival in the UK and quarantine for two weeks.

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

Pre-departure testing

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

We also recommend that before you travel you pre-book the lateral flow (antigen) test for when you return to the UK. Remember that unvaccinated travellers still need to pre-book a day 2 and day 8 PCR tests. The government provides a list of companies that carry out these tests - 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

From 4th October fully vaccinated travellers no longer need to take a Covid test before returning to the UK.

If you are not fully vaccinated you will still need to take a Covid test and provide a negative result. The test must be taken within 72 hours of your departure time. Wherever possible our local travel partners will organise an appropriate test – this may be at your hotel or at an authorised testing facility such as an airport. This Covid test can be PCR or antigen but must be certified and meet specified UK government standards.

Alternatively, it is possible to pre-order a ‘Fit to Fly’ test to take with you on your holiday from a company called Qured. This includes a timed video appointment with a qualified health professional when you will be observed taking your test. The results are verified and certified within an hour.

Another option similar to that of Qured is Chronomics. Chronomics use the same test type as Qured however rather than taking the test via webcam you are required to take a photo of your test result and upload this for Chronomics to review and verify. If you would like further information on this option please contact your Mountain Kingdoms Operations Manager.

Passenger Locator Form (PLF)

This online form must be completed by all travellers to the UK within the 48 hours before arriving back into the UK. You cannot complete the form in advance of this. In order to complete the form you need your passport details, flight details and the booking reference from your pre-booked day 2 test. Once you have completed the form you will be sent a PDF of the PLF with a QR code via email. We therefore advise 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

Arriving back in the UK

To clear customs at your UK airport, ensure that you have to hand your proof of vaccination status and your Passenger Locator Form. These checks may actually be carried out just before you board your flight to the UK. If you are not fully vaccinated you will also need to show your negative test result.

Finally, you will need to carry out your pre-booked Covid test on day 2 of your return (the day you arrive back in the UK is counted as day 0).

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

This information is correct at 22 September 2021

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