COVID travel restrictions to the UK


30 September 2021

On 17 September, the Government announced substantive changes to simplify and streamline the UK’s COVID travel rules.

From 22 September, eight countries were removed from the UK red list:

1.    Turkey    
2.    Sri Lanka
3.    Pakistan    
4.    Oman
5.    the Maldives    
6.    Bangladesh
7.    Egypt    
8.    Kenya.

The Government also announced that from 4 October the UK would scrap the red, amber, green travel lists and move to a singular red list. Arrivals from red list countries will continue to require to be quarantined in a Government hotel facility on arrival.

From 4:00am on 4 October, eligible double vaccinated passengers arriving into the UK from non-red list countries will no longer be required to undertake a pre-departure COVID test (this was previously required within the 72 hour period prior to entry to the UK).

Additionally from the end of October (date TBC but expected to align to start of October half-term holidays) eligible fully vaccinated passengers from a select group of non-red countries will be able to replace their day two PCR test with a lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival. Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller.

From 4 October, the Government will recognise vaccination from approved UK, EU/Swiss and US vaccination programmes and will also newly recognise travellers that have received a full course of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines from a relevant public health body in:

  1. Australia
  2. Antigua and Barbuda
  3. Barbados
  4. Bahrain
  5. Brunei
  6. Canada
  7. Dominica
  8. Israel
  9. Japan
  10. Kuwait
  11. Malaysia
  12. New Zealand
  13. Qatar
  14. Saudi Arabia
  15. Singapore
  16. South Korea
  17. Taiwan; or 
  18. the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Additionally, mixed vaccinations from the above programmes will also be recognised from 4 October.
Fully vaccinated passengers under the above programmes will only be required to:

  • complete a passenger locator form; and
  • take a day two test following arrival in the UK.

Quarantine on arrival, day eight tests and pre-departure tests will no longer be required for the above passengers.

Non-vaccinated/partially vaccinated travellers and those arriving from other destinations worldwide will still require:

  • pre-departure testing three days prior to travel
  • day two and day eight post arrival tests; and
  • completion of a passenger locator form prior to travel; and
  • quarantine on arrival for 10 days (11 nights) at their own accommodation.

Arrivals from red list countries will continue to be subject to the same requirements i.e.:

  • pre departure test
  • completion of passenger locator form prior to travel
  • quarantine in a Government managed facility.

These rules for arrivals from red list countries apply regardless of vaccination status.

This article is from the August 2021 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For further information please contact a member of Birketts' Immigration Team.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at September 2021.

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