Updates to international travel


27 January 2022

Pre-departure COVID tests scrapped and changes to day two testing and further easing of restrictions are covered in this international travel update.

Pre-departure COVID tests scrapped and changes to day two testing

From 4:00am on 7 January 2022, fully vaccinated travellers arriving in England no longer have to take a pre-departure test in the 48 hours before travelling to the UK.

Similarly, from 9 January 2022, day two arrival tests no longer have to be a mandatory approved PCR test, but can now be a cheaper lateral flow test for fully vaccinated travellers. The test must be taken at any time after arrival and before the end of day two at the latest – the day of arrival being day 0. If a lateral flow test is used and a positive reading is shown then a PCR test must also be taken as well as self-isolation.

Tests should still be privately purchased and not the NHS test and trace system.

From Monday 17 January, individuals that are fully vaccinated and test positive for COVID-19 on their day two test, can stop self-isolating on day six of their self-isolation period if they’ve take rapid lateral flow tests on days five and six, and:
•    both test results are negative
•    they did both tests at least 24 hours apart
•    they do not have a high temperature.

Those who are not fully vaccinated or whose vaccination programmes are not recognised by the UK, will continue to be required to book pre-departure COVID test and must continue to take PCR tests on day two and eight of arrival and self-isolate for 10 full days. A day eight test does not need to be taken if a day two test is positive.

The UK doesn’t recognise ‘natural immunity’ as an alternative proof to vaccination or negative COVID tests. 

Upcoming - further easing of restrictions

Moving forward, from 11 February 2022, the UK will further reduce travel restrictions, in time to facilitate half term holidays. From 4:00am on this date, fully vaccinated travellers entering the UK will not be required to undergo any pre-travel or on-arrival testing and no quarantine will be required. The only requirement for fully vaccinated passengers will be completion of the passenger locator form (PLF).

Unvaccinated travellers or those travellers whose vaccination programmes are not recognised by  the UK will need to (1) take a pre-travel test in the 2 days prior to departure, (2) book and pay for a day two arrival PCR test and (3) to complete a PLF.

These articles are from the January 2022 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 January 2022.

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