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Going To England? The UK’s Rules for International Travelers Are About To Change

Beginning on October 4, the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) rules regarding international travel will shift to a new system in an effort to make entry requirements for foreign nationals simpler and more straightforward.

The red, amber and green travel light system that has been in place since England’s reopening this past May has been widely criticized for being too confusing and eroding consumer confidence. The British government has therefore taken steps to simplify it by placing high-risk countries on a red list and assigning the rest of the world the same set of entry requirements.


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Those traveling to England from countries and territories that aren’t on the red list will now be subject to certain conditions based on their vaccination status. To be considered fully vaccinated, persons will need to have received all doses of a vaccine-type that’s been approved by programs in the U.K., Europe or the U.S., and have completed the course at least 14 days prior to arrival in England.

The government is making progress in vaccine recognition and will recognize different formulations of the four listed vaccines (AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johns/Janssen). For those courses that require two doses, it’ll also be acceptable to have mixed two different vaccine types or have received each inoculation under different approved national programs.

If you ARE fully vaccinated, you must:

—Provide proof that you’ve been fully immunized using digital or hard-copy documentation (i.e., CDC card for Americans or E.U. DCC for Europeans).

—Pay for and book an appointment for a COVID-19 test to be taken by Day Two, following arrival in England.

—Complete a passenger locator form within the 48-hour window prior to your arrival.

What you WON’T have to do under the new rules is take a pre-departure test, test again on Day Eight of your stay or quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.

COVID-19 Vaccine travel
COVID-19 vaccines are leading to a surge in travel planning. (photo via gesrey / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

If you are NOT fully vaccinated, you must:

—Take a pre-departure COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel to England.

—Pay for and book COVID-19 tests to be taken on Day Two and Day Eight of your stay.

—Complete a passenger locator form within the 48-hour window prior to your arrival.

—Quarantine for the first 10 days, either at home or in your accommodations. It’s possible to exit quarantine early if you pay for a private COVID-19 test through the ‘Test to Release’ scheme.

If you’re traveling to England from ‘red list’ countries, the same rules will apply to you, whether you’re fully, partially or unvaccinated. If you’re been in a red list country or territory within the previous 10 days, you’ll only be permitted to enter if you are a British or Irish nationals, or you have residence rights in the U.K.

If you’re coming from a red list country, you must:

—Take a pre-departure COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel.

—Book a ‘quarantine hotel’ package, including two post-arrival COVID-19 tests.

—Complete a passenger locator form within the 48-hour window prior to your arrival.

According to the U.K. government website, the red list is set to be reviewed every three weeks or, “whenever concerning evidence means we may need to act faster to protect public health.”

For the latest info on travel around the world, check out this interactive guide below:


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