When will PCR test for UK travel stop – and when will day 2 lateral flow testing start?
The reliance on Covid-19 PCR tests is being phased out.
The new Covid-19 travel restrictions are now in place and are a simplified version from the traffic light system that existed before and people do not necessarily need to take a PCR test before leaving the country, as they did before.
Those returning must take them on day two of their return home, but this is set to change.
Air travel companies have welcomed the news and the introduction of cheaper and simpler tests, meaning fewer people are put off from going on holiday.
Instead of listing the countries as red, amber and green system (each of which had their own set of rules and regulations), the system has been simplified into a 'rest of world' list and a red list.
The rest of world list has similar rules to that of the green list that came before, but now contains many of the countries that featured on the amber list previously.
So what changes have taken place and how much easier is it to go abroad on holiday?
Are PCR tests being phased out?
Under the new rules, pre departure tests are no longer needed for fully vaccinated people.
You are fully vaccinated if you have had two separate vaccine shots.
There has been no set deadline for day two PCR tests being phased out, but the government has said that they expect this to be around the end of October. There are hopes that this could occur before the half-term holidays.
The PCR tests will be replaced with a cheaper lateral flow test.
MoneySavingExpert believes that the switch to lateral flow tests could save holiday goers between £22 and £39.
What are the new rules?
If you are fully vaccinated, then according to the Department for Transport, before you travel to England you must:
- book and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 test – to be taken after arrival in England. You need to book this test before you travel
- complete a passenger locator form – to be completed in the 48 hours before you arrive in England
You do not need to take a PCR test before returning, as you were required to do so previously.
If you are not fully vaccinated you must take a Covid-19 test in the three days before your return to the UK, as well as complete the steps above.
If you are visiting a red list country, or have visited one in transit on our way home from one, then you are required to:
- take a COVID-19 test – you must take the test in the 3 days before you travel to the UK
- book a quarantine hotel package, including 2 COVID-19 tests.
- complete a passenger locator form
This is regardless of if you are fully vaccinated or not.
If arriving in England, you can use the 'test-to-release' scheme on day five. You must pay the private test provider for this.
Key travel information - what do I need to know before going on holiday?
You are not necessarily required to take a test if you are leaving the UK, it depends entirely on if the country you are visiting asks for one upon entry. The same or some other countries may also have public requirements such as a vaccine passport to visit bars or restaurants.
You should consult the foreign office before visiting any country to see if they have a particular set of rules and guidelines.
Plans to scrap the passenger locator form at some point are being talked, but this has not yet been confirmed.