Covid Scotland: New travel rules explained as PCR tests scrapped

By Dayna McAlpine

The Scottish Government has confirmed that travel rules for Scots are set to change - but what does that mean for anyone hoping to visit abroad or enter Scotland?

The rules have changed due to Scottish Government officials confirming that pre-departure Covid tests, the requirement to self-isolate and mandatory PCR tests were re-introduced in December in order to stem the spread of the omicron variant, but these regulations are now seen as 'less necessary' because omicron has become the dominant strain in the UK.

As a result of the changes, the following rules are now in place:

Scottish travel rules

  • Complete a passenger locator form
  • From January 7, fully vaccinated and those under 18 will no longer need to take a pre-departure test to fly into Scotland from outside the UK and Common Travel Area.
  • Day two PCR tests still required but do not need to isolate while waiting for results if they arrive after January 7 at 4am.
  • From January 9, 4am, those who are fully vaccinated or under 18 only need to take a lateral flow test rather than PCR.
  • If your post-arrival lateral flow test comes out positive, you must self-isolate & take a free NHS PCR test to confirm the result.

Lateral flow tests for day two testing cannot be the NHS provided ones. You can find out where to buy lateral flow tests suitable for post-travel here.

Rules for non-fully vaccinated in Scotland

  • Complete a passenger locator form
  • If you have not had two doses, you must take a PCR test within two days of arriving in Scotland.
  • Take a PCR test on day 2 and day eight of arriving.
  • Isolate for 10 days from the day you arrive in Scotland

The four nations of the UK have also agreed to approve vaccine certificates for a further 16 countries and territories from 0400 on 10 January to allow quarantine-free travel to Scotland.

These are Bhutan, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Fiji, Iraq and Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Palau, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, The Gambia, Uzbekistan, as well as North Cyprus and Papua New Guinea.

As of Friday (January 7) people looking to travel to Scotland will no longer have to do pre-departure Covid tests, which were reintroduced for travel to Scotland in December in order to try and prevent the spread of Omicron cases.

Due to the fact that Omicron is now the dominant variant in Scotland and across the UK, the Scottish Government has said that these tests, along with prior requirements for those arriving in Scotland to self-isolate until they receive a negative result, will be scrapped for those under the age of 18 or fully jabbed.

People arriving in Scotland from abroad will still need to do a ‘Day 2’ test within roughly 48 hours of their return.

But from Sunday January 9, cheaper lateral flow tests can be used instead of more costly PCR tests.


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