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What you need to know about changes to UK COVID-19 travel rules

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Pack your bags and don’t forget your toothbrush! All remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions for UK-bound passengers have been scrapped

As of Friday 18 March 2022 people arriving in the UK no longer need to take tests or complete the dreaded passenger locator form. 

This welcome news has come in plenty of time for the Easter school holidays – giving UK travellers the green light for more affordable and straightforward trips abroad. 

Changes to UK travel rules 

What do the government’s changes to UK travel rules mean for your upcoming holiday plans?

The government has removed all remaining COVID-19 international travel rules, which means that whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated you have no extra hoops to jump through. 

For arrivals to the UK, including all four of the nations, this means that the following restrictions have been removed: 

  • Requirement to fill in a passenger locator form (PLF) for all passengers
  • Pre-departure test for unvaccinated passengers 
  • Day 2 post arrival test for unvaccinated passengers 

Vaccinated passengers have not needed to provide proof of a negative test for several weeks, and quarantine requirements were also removed for all regardless of vaccine status earlier this year. 

What are the rules for children travelling to the UK?

The government changes apply to passengers of all ages. 

Children aged 17 and under had been treated as fully vaccinated up until the restrictions were lifted – meaning they did not need tests or quarantine. 

This means that for your return journey to the UK – or for foreign visitors hoping to explore the UK – there are no more coronavirus-related measures to worry about. 

What about face coverings?

In addition to these changes from the UK government Heathrow Airport has removed the requirement for passengers and staff to wear face coverings – although they are still encouraged to do so. 

A statement on behalf of Heathrow Airport said: “Passengers may still be required to wear a face covering on board their flight and should check the airlines’ requirements before travelling.”

In line with Heathrow’s changes British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have removed their mask mandates for some routes.

Passengers will still be required to wear a face covering where the destination country or airport requires face coverings to be worn, for example routes to the US. Virgin flights to the Caribbean from both Heathrow and Manchester will see optional mask-wearing.

Jet2 and Tui have also dropped face masks for selected flights. 

What has the travel industry said?

With PCR tests costing from £45 per person the changes mean unvaccinated passengers looking to travel abroad can save a decent chunk of change on their trip. 

The news has been celebrated by the travel industry, which is eager to welcome back more passengers in 2022 after two years of disruption caused by the pandemic. 

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of trade body Airlines UK, said: “With travellers returning to the UK no longer burdened by unnecessary forms and testing requirements, we can now look forward to the return to pre-Covid normality throughout the travel experience.”

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: “The removal of all remaining UK travel restrictions, including the Passenger Locator Form, is the final important step towards frictionless air travel, helping to further restore consumer confidence as we welcome more customers back to the skies this Spring and Summer.

With these barriers to travel removed, Britain is open for business and passengers can reconnect with loved ones and business colleagues once again.”

What travel rules do you need to be aware of?

It’s important for travellers to remember that the UK government only sets the rules for travellers arriving in the UK. 

So while the UK has scrapped its testing and passenger locator form requirement, other nations continue to ask arrivals to fulfill certain requirements. 

Your vaccine status and the rules for children are also a mixed bag depending on where you are travelling to. 

For example, if you are going to Spain you need to submit an online Health Control Form before your arrival and kids over 12 need to provide proof of a negative PCR test if they are not fully vaccinated. 

The country also asks visitors to be boosted if their last vaccine dose was more than 270 days before travel. Other European nations have a similar requirement, with France asking you to be boosted if your second dose was more than 180 days ago. 

The US requires all arrivals to be vaccinated and to provide proof of a negative PCR or lateral flow test. Children 17 and under do not need to be fully vaccinated to enter the country, but are asked to take a test three to five days after their arrival. 

And travel to some destinations for holidays is still off the cards for now. For example, New Zealand will be opening its borders to UK passengers from 2 May. 

As this illustrates, while the UK has ripped up the rules other nations still have various measures in place. 

Your best bet to keep on top of the guidance is to check the FCDO travel advice pages for individual countries. You can sign up for email alerts to let you know when these pages are updated, to keep on top of the latest changes. 

Travel abroad checklist 

Putting all of these changes together here is a quick rundown of the things to remember when booking your trip: 

  • Check your destination is accepting UK travellers visiting for leisure
  • Check the rules by vaccination status for your destination
  • Organise your proof of vaccination, including your booster, if your destination requires it 
  • Book relevant pre and post departure COVID tests for your destination
  • Fill in relevant forms required by your destination 
  • Check the mask-wearing requirement for your airline and destination

Original Article Source:  https://www.staysure.co.uk/2022/03/changes-to-uk-covid-19-travel-rules

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