The United Kingdom is one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations. While other countries in Europe are still reeling from the impact of COVID-19, life in the U.K has largely returned to normal, owing mostly to the nation’s high vaccination rate and effective safeguarding measures, including testing and quarantine.
If you are a British expatriate intending on returning to the United Kingdom, then you will be subject to the same safeguarding measures as non-British arrivals.
This article will explain what requirements there are for travelling into the United Kingdom:
Vaccinated British citizens returning to the United Kingdom are not subject to the same requirements as the unvaccinated. For vaccinated people, travel into the U.K. is very simple. Before travelling, you must book an approved UK day 2 lateral flow test and complete a passenger locator form. You will be required to include your test’s booking reference in your passenger locator form.
Upon arrival, quarantine is not required. However, you must complete your COVID-19 lateral flow test. You can also book a PCR test, though many people find them to be very inconvenient. You must take your test before the end of your second day in the country. If your result is positive, you must quarantine. If you have taken a lateral flow test and it is positive, you must take an additional PCR test.
If you have not been vaccinated at home in the United Kingdom, then the British authorities might not consider you as fully vaccinated. To qualify as fully vaccinated, you must have proof of full vaccination, with an approved vaccine. Your course of vaccinations must have been completed no less than 14 days prior to your arrival in the United Kingdom. Vaccines approved in the United Kingdom are:
- Johnson & Johnson
If you were vaccinated in the United Kingdom, then you can prove your vaccination status using the NHS Covid Pass or the NHS Scotland COVID Status application. If you were vaccinated outside of the U.K, you will have to prove your vaccination status another way. If you cannot prove that you have been vaccinated, then unfortunately you will have to follow the same rules as unvaccinated people.
Rules for unvaccinated arrivals to the United Kingdom are far stricter. In order to gain entry, one must have already booked and paid for one’s lateral flow or PCR tests, and have completed a passenger locator form, which has their test booking reference contained within it. Upon arrival, you must quarantine at home or at a family member’s house if you no longer live in the United Kingdom and must take your COVID tests. The first test must be taken before the end of your second day in the UK, and the last on the eighth day.
Lateral Flow Tests
Lateral flow tests are by far the most popular test available in the United Kingdom. They can be performed alone at home, although digital supervision is required. You will be asked to take the test while in a video call. This is just to make sure that the result you receive is genuine and that you take the test the right way. The results from a lateral flow test appear within 30 minutes of taking the test.
The test is very simple. You must swab the inside of your mouth and nose, then place the swab inside a solution, and place two drops of the solution into the lateral flow devices.
If you are found to be in breach of government COVID rules, then you can be fined, arrested, and taken to court. The British government has a zero-tolerance policy on people who do not follow COVID-related rules. If you do not have any of the pre-entry paperwork and your test’s booking reference, then you may be turned away. In addition, if you do not have anywhere to quarantine and test positive, you may have to quarantine in a government-run quarantine facility, which is usually a hotel. You will have to pay for your stay there.
It is worth mentioning, if you are an expatriate and no longer live full-time in the United Kingdom, then you must research the country that you will be returning to and its entry requirements. Some countries, like Japan, for example, will not admit travellers again once they have left, unless they have a right to entry [citizenship]. While entry into the United Kingdom is very straightforward, this, unfortunately, is not the case for many other countries.
The British government’s COVID entry requirements are set to change in February. This article reflects the current COVID entry requirements. In addition to guides like this, you must also check the official government website and read the entry requirements listed there.