So, what do you need to know if you plan to travel?
Many are certainly confused about what you should be doing before you travel and when you return home, how could you not be! Everything keeps changing and getting more and more complicated. So here’s a brief overview of what you should know, as we understand things.
Travel Documents & Testing Requirements
UK Passenger Locator Form: Required for ALL passengers returning to the UK from overseas.
Destination PLF or Health Form: This is subject to individual country requirements.
Pre-departure testing? Check: This is subject to individual country requirements.
Return to UK testing: Required for ALL passengers returning to the UK from overseas.
Green Country return testing: No isolation required, but you will need a day 2 PCR test.
Amber Country return testing: 10 days isolation required with a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 (5 day test and release also available).
Travel insurance including COVID cover: Make sure you check the cover with your provider.
*Please note that devolved nations testing requirements may differ from England.
Here’s What You Need To Do
When leaving the UK it is most likely that you will be required to get a PCR test at least three days before you start your journey. For example, if you travel on Friday, you must take a test on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. A valid certificate of your negative test will be provided (printed or in an e-mail version) which you will need to present before you fly. We advise you to book a PCR test as soon as you know about your travel dates to be sure to get the certificate in good time. However, all will depend entirely on where you are going, as each country has its own rules and you have to check their official websites to know what to do. Here is the British Government advice for travellers per country.
When travelling back to the UK you will have to get tested 3 to 4 times in total. First, you should check if the country you are coming from is on the banned travel list. If you are not coming back from a country that is on the banned travel list you will need to take a test 3 days before your final departure point to the UK and provide a certificate of your negative result (printed or in an e-mail version) at the border. Make sure you check before leaving the UK if you will be able to get tested in the country you are returning from. You can find more explanation on travel rules here.
You must complete this passenger locator form as it will be requested by the authorities at the border.
You will need to book your home testing kits. This is vital as you must include the order number of the testing kits on the passenger locator form. You can order the kits before you leave the UK, but the requirements will gradually change as more countries move to the green list, so it is important to keep checking. You might want to consider ordering the kits whilst you are away, perhaps in the last week of your trip because if there are changes and testing is not required, it could save money.
If you will be coming back from a country that is on the banned travel list, you must book a 10 days quarantine in a hotel before you travel. Your quarantine package will include your managed quarantine hotel, transport, and your COVID-19 tests on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine. You can book the whole package following this link.
On your passenger locator form you must provide the details of where you will quarantine when you arrive and the package booking reference number. If you are returning from a country that is on the banned travel red list you must, when entering England from outside the Common Travel Area (Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) quarantine for 10 days, take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test on day 2 and day 8 of quarantining and follow the national lockdown rules. If you test positive, please see the instructions on the government website.
If you are coming from a country that is on the amber travel list, you can use Test to Release as part of the international travel scheme. The scheme lets you choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test and if the result is negative, you can stop quarantining. You cannot take a test until you have been in England for 5 full days. The scheme is voluntary and applies to those quarantining in England only. Test to release does not exempt you from being tested on day 2 and 8.
If you are coming from a country that is on the banned travel list you cannot use the Test to Release scheme. This is also NOT availble if you have been in, or through any country that is on the travel ban red list in the 10 days before you arrive in England.
So, there you have it! I hope this brief overview clarifies some of the confusion. We are here to help talk you through any concerns you may have, but please be aware that there are likely to be some changes!
Evidence Required if you have had both vaccinations
The NHS App is available on your smartphone or tablet. Each traveller must register for their own account. Please be aware that to view your proof of vaccinations you will need to be connected to the internet – Identification will be required and it is likely you will need to take a video of yourself as per the instructions provided.
An official letter from the NHS can be obtained by calling ‘119’ from any UK landline or mobile. Alternatively you can apply for your NHS Covid pass Letter here: https://www.covid-status-letter.service.nhs.uk/do-you-know-nhs-number
NOTE: As of 19th July 2021 all double vacinated adults and children under 18 years of age in England travelling from an Amber listed country, DO NOT need a test on Day 8 and no longer need to self isolate.
NOTE: As of 2nd August 2021 The Government has announced that passengers arriving from amber countries who have been fully vaccinated in Europe (EU Member States, European Free Trade Association countries and the European microstate countries of Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City) and the USA will not have to quarantine when entering England.
Here is the latest guidance available for England is via this link.
Following the change, a pre-departure test before arrival into England, alongside a PCR test on or before Day 2 will still be required for amber arrivals who have been fully vaccinated in the USA and European countries. Those vaccinated in the US will also need to provide proof of US residency.
For those travellers returning from France (also known as an Amber Plus destination), separate rules continue to apply – please read more about it by clicking here.
The same statement from the Secretary of State for Transport confirmed that international cruise sailings will restart from England in line with Public Health England guidance. The FCDO advice
Testing Jargon Explained
UK PLF – Passenger Locator Form
This form is required for all arrivals into the United Kingdom
Country PLF – Each individual Country is likely to have their own Government Passenger Locator Form
PCR test – Polymerase Chain Reaction test
This test detects the presence of COVID at the time of testing. These tests are sent to a laboratory to detect the presence of the virus.
LAMP test – Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification Test
This is a similar process to PCR testing but produces many more viral RNA (ribonucleic acid – carries the instructions for making protein) copies at a constant temperature instead of heating and cooling so can you have a result much quicker – often within a couple of hours or even faster.
ANTIGEN test – Lateral Flow Rapid Antigen Test
NHS Test and Trace is making rapid lateral flow antigen testing available alongside standard lab-based PCR test. These tests play a different, but crucial role in the fight against COVID-19.
Randox Health (one of the UK government’s approved providers) offer testing packages specifically designed for travel.
You will need to Quote SUNVIL2021 to receive any discounted prices.
Tel: 0800 254 5130
Cost of £43.00
Pre-departure test and Day 2 test https://www.randoxhealth.com/green-travel-pack/
Cost of £86.00
Day 2 and Day 8 test https://www.randoxhealth.com/covid-19-day-2-and-8-testing/–
Cost of £86.00
Pre-departure test, Day 2 and Day 8 test https://www.randoxhealth.com/amber-travel-pack/
Cost of £129.00
Test to return:
It is a mandatory requirement that all travellers returning to the UK must undertake a PCR, LAMP or Antigen test, at a destination clinic, within 72 hours of their return. The test is payable locally and must meet the UK government’s requirements. You will need to make an appointment with a local clinic. This test is payable locally.
Qured is an alternative virtual consultation test that you can purchase prior to departure from the UK. This option will require you to self-administer a swab test whilst on a virtual consultation with a registered clinician, in the privacy of your accommodation. Once complete, and a negatative test result is received, a fit to fly certificate is issued. This test will cost approx £35.00
You will need to book this service in advance by following the details below, but please be aware this service may not available in every country.
- Go to https://patients.qured.com
- Select ‘sign up’ and create your account
- Click the test type ‘diagnostic’ and then ‘PCR test’ (or whichever test type you wish to chose)
- Enter your delivery address
- Select the delivery type as ‘Courier’ (or whichever delivery option you wish chose)
- Enter the promo code: ‘SUNVIL10‘
- Confirm the information is correct and confirm the booking
- You will be emailed the booking confirmation
* Please note ALL testing is the responsibility of the individual and your contract will be with the supplier. You will require a Smartphone with Cellular or WiFi access.
Here are a few examples
Mr & Mrs Davis, who are both double vaccinated, are travelling to Corfu for 7 nights.
PCR, LAMP or Antigen test for both passengers within 72 hours of scheduled return to UK are required.
10 day period of self-isolation for both passengers with PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8
Virtual consultation/test in resort – EUR30 x 2
Return to UK Testing kit – £86 x 2
Total cost of testing – approx £232
Ms Jones, who isn’t vaccinated, is travelling to Greece for 7 nights.
Pre-departure testing required for Ms Jones
PCR, LAMP or Antigen test for Ms Jones within 72 hours of scheduled return to UK
10 day period of self-isolation for the with PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8
Pre-departure UK Testing kit – £43
Virtual consultation/test in resort – EUR30 Return to UK Testing kit – £86
Total cost of testing – approx £159
The Smith Family 2 adults and 1 child (aged 8), travelling to Greece for a family holiday. Mr Smith has received both vaccinations, Mrs Smith her first only.
Pre-departure testing required for Mrs Smith and the child
PCR, LAMP or Antigen test for all within 72 hours of scheduled return to UK
10 day period of self-isolation for the whole family with PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8
Pre-departure UK Testing kit for Mrs Smith – £43 x 1
Virtual consultation/test in resort for Mr & Mrs Smith and child (aged 8) – EUR30 x 2 Return to the UK Testing kit for all passengers – £86 x 3
Approx testing cost £361
Other Testing Services
Express Test offer drive-through PCR tests at 17 airports and hubs across the UK.
The test costs from £50.00 per person and results are guaranteed by 10pm the next working day (after receipt).
Express Test also provide the Day 2 and Day 8 tests for those travelling to Amber destinations.
An instore PCR test is available at selected Boots Chemists. The results are guaranteed within 48 hours.
The tests cost £99.00 per person and are available to book up to 28 days in advance.
Zoom Doc provide PCR home testing kits. The completed swab can be returned by post, courier or can be hand delivered to a clinic in Central London.
The tests cost £109.00 per person and results available within 12-48 hours of receipt.