Travel for UK residents is far simpler than it was in early 2021 – but who can enter the United Kingdom from overseas? Here we explain how the rules for travel to the UK works for non-residents.
Can I travel to the UK right now?
The answer is yes for most, though that can change at very short notice. Since Monday October 4, the green and amber lists have no longer existed, meaning anyone can now enter without having to quarantine in a government-approved hotel as long as they’re not coming from a red list country.
From Friday November 26, six countries were officially added to the red list: South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe, due to a new coronavirus variant called Omicron spreading quickly. Anyone landing in the UK from one of these countries after 4am on Sunday November 28 has to quarantine in a government-approved hotel. Four further countries – Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia – were also added on Sunday November 28. This change applies across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Those who are double-vaccinated do not need a pre-departure test before entering the UK from a non-red country, although they do still need to take a test on or before day two after their arrival. As of Tuesday November 30, this needs to be a PCR test, and double-jabbed travelers are required to self-isolate until a negative result is confirmed.
Those who are not double-vaccinated still need to take a pre-departure test, get PCR tests on or before day two and on or after day eight, and to isolate for 10 days (with the option to test for release from day five, unless you are in Northern Ireland where this option is not available). This applies when entering from non-red countries, even if the country was formerly ‘green’.
Are vaccines given outside the UK accepted?
Previously, mostly vaccines given in the EU were recognized. However, UK transport secretary Grant Shapps announced that as of Monday October 11, the government now recognizes vaccines given in 37 additional countries. He wrote on Twitter: “I’m also making changes so travelers visiting England have fewer entry requirements, by recognizing those with fully-vax status from 37 new countries and territories including India, Turkey and Ghana, treating them the same as UK fully vax passengers.”
Those who have had two shots of a vaccine (or one shot of the Janssen vaccine) in the following countries are now also allowed entry to the UK:
Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Antarctica/British Antarctic Territory
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
British Indian Ocean Territory
British Virgin Islands
Republic of Cyprus
Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
St Kitts and Nevis
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Turks and Caicos islands
The UK government recognizes Pfizer BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen (J&J) vaccines. Those jabbed with two different doses of these vaccines – for example, a person with one dose of Oxford AstraZeneca and one dose of Moderna – are regarded as fully vaccinated. For the full list of countries and proof of vaccine accepted see the government’s website.
Can residents of a red list country enter the UK?
The only people permitted to enter the UK from one of the countries on the red list are UK residents or British or Irish citizens. Anyone allowed to enter the UK from these countries must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days, at a cost of £2,285. Failure to comply will result in fines of up to £10,000.
So are holidays to the UK allowed this year?
As long as you aren’t coming from a country on the red list at the time of your travel, yes – although bear in mind that some rules may apply – for example, everyone is required to wear a face mask while on public transport or in shops.
For now, if you’re booking a trip to the UK we recommend you ensure you have a flexible cancellation policy and good travel insurance with Covid cover.
Originally published on Cntraveller.com