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The information in this section deals with a fast-moving issue and should be read as correct at the time of publication.

This paper answers common questions about how international travel from and to England is currently affected by UK Government restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The current international travel rules for the devolved administrations can be found on the respective websites of Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive.

What are the current requirements to enter England from red-list countries?

There are currently no countries on the ‘red list’. On 14 December 2021, the Government said hotel quarantine was no longer effective or proportionate in slowing the spread of Omicron variant of Covid-19.

However, if and when countries are put on the red list, entry from those countries to England is only allowed for UK and Irish citizens, or those with a right of residence in the UK. Travellers are required to enter hotel quarantine for 10 days following arrival, irrespective of vaccination status.

What are the current requirements to enter England from other countries?

Entry restrictions from non-red list countries depend on vaccination status.

Since 9 January 2022, the following restrictions apply. People who are fully vaccinated must complete a pre-departure passenger locator form and book and pay for a post-arrival test. After arrival, they must take that pre-paid PCR or Lateral Flow test before the end of day 2. If the test result is negative, they do not need to self-isolate. If they booked a lateral flow test and the result is positive, they must take a free PCR test to confirm the result, and must self-isolate immediately until they get the result. If that PCR test result is positive, or inconclusive, they must self-isolate for 10 full days. The day they take the PCR test is day 0. They may stop self-isolating on day 6 if they get negative lateral flow test results on both days 5 and 6.

Those who are unvaccinated must take a pre-travel (PCR or lateral flow) test in the two days before travel to the UK and complete a pre-departure passenger locator form. After arrival, they must self-isolate at home for 10 days, and take Day 2 and Day 8 PCR tests. If the day 2 test is positive, they must self-isolate for 10 full days (day 0 being the day they took the test). They do not need to take the day 8 test.

If the day 2 test is negative, they must take the day 8 test. If the day 8 test is positive, they must self-isolate for 10 full days (day 0 being the day they took the test). If the day 8 test is negative, they can stop self-isolation on day 10 (day 0 being the day of arrival in England), or when they receive the day 8 test result (whichever is later).

Can the NHS Covid Pass be used to record booster jabs for travel?

Yes. Since 19 November 2021, travellers who have had a booster or a third vaccine dose are able to prove their ‘boosted’ vaccine status through the NHS COVID Pass for international travel. However, to be considered fully vaccinated for the purposes of international travel into England, having received a booster is not currently a requirement.

Can the NHS Covid Pass be used for children?

On 13 December 2021, the Government announced that the NHS COVID Pass would be rolled out to fully-vaccinated 12-to-15 year olds for international travel. This is currently only available in letter form, and a digital version is to follow later in 2022. Previously, only people over the age of 16 could get an NHS Covid Pass for international travel.

What can be done if travel is disrupted by Covid-19 restrictions?

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a refund. If a flight is not cancelled, but a passenger couldn’t take it due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, they should be offered a re-scheduled flight or a refund.

The Government has published a Passenger Covid-19 charter, which sets out consumer rights, responsibilities, and reasonable expectations while Covid-19 travel restrictions continue.

When did international travel rules change, and when might they change again?

The international travel ban ended in England on 17 May 2021. It was then replaced by a ‘traffic light’ system, where restrictions to enter England depended on the colour category (red, amber or green) that was given to the country a traveller was entering from.

On 4 October 2021 that traffic light system was replaced. Now, the amber and green lists have effectively been combined, meaning there are only two categories: ‘red-list’ and other countries.

The rules for entry from red-list countries have not changed substantially since October 2021. But there have been changes for entry from other countries. In response to the emergence of the Omicron variant, the Government, on 27 November 2021, announced a requirement for vaccinated travellers to take PCR tests (rather than Lateral Flow Tests) for Day 2 post-travel testing, starting on 30 November 2021. From 7 December, a requirement for pre-travel tests (using either lateral flow or PCR tests) was added to these rules. From 9 January 2022, these Omicron-related rules were relaxed.

The Government has said it will review all travel measures later in January 2022.

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