What are the Rules for Traveling Abroad from the UK? COVID Requirements Explained…

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You’ve done it – it’s been two weeks since your last dose. Now, you’re double vaxxed and ready to travel. But, you just can’t buy an air ticket, pack your bags and go – the UK government and nations around the world have varying rules you have to follow.

You’ll have to prove vaccination status, show that you’re COVID-negative, and so forth. Further, depending on a country’s risk status, you may have to quarantine upon return to the UK. In this blog, we’ll discuss the most common requirements you’ll have to meet to travel to the world’s most popular travel destinations.

1) Check Entry Requirements/Status for Your Destination Country

Before heading abroad, you must do two things. First, check your destination’s rating in the UK’s COVID colour coding scheme. Based on current infection data, the government has given the world’s nations one of three ratings: green, amber, or red. 

Green nations do NOT require post-trip quarantine, whilst amber and red ones do. This consideration is vital, as you’ll need to self-isolate for ten days upon return from amber countries, and ten days in a quarantine hotel after returning from red countries.

Second, you’ll need to review your destination’s entry requirements. Some have no restrictions of any kind (e.g., Mexico), whilst others are closed to non-nationals/residents (e.g., Canada), except for well-defined reasons (e.g., essential workers). The rest are somewhere in the middle – negative COVID PCR tests before your flight are common, as are filling out government questionnaires/forms. Some mandate a stay in quarantine hotels, so be sure to factor that into your plans.  

2) Follow Local Health Rules/Guidelines

Around the world, the response to COVID-19 varies widely by country. Even within a nation’s states, provinces, and cities, rules and regulations can change significantly. As a result, you must stay on top of local COVID guidelines.

No matter where you travel, always carry masks on your person. That way, if the local government or a private business requires them, you won’t be caught unprepared. In general, follow travel advice put out by the FCDO – that way, you’ll be properly informed of measures taken by the government in your destination.

Above all else, expect the unexpected. Should you get stuck in your destination country, you should have access to financial resources that will allow you to sustain yourself. Before heading abroad, take down contact info for the FCDO office in your destination. In the event of a crisis, they should be able to provide consular assistance.

3) Be Prepared to Follow UK Re-Entry Requirements

Depending on your destination, you will have to follow specific guidelines on your return to the United Kingdom. If you are returning from a “green” country, you will need to test negative for COVID-19 before departure. Upon return, you will NOT need to isolate. However, you must fill out a passenger locator form, and take a COVID test two days after arriving back in the UK.

Most nations are rated amber. Prior to travel, you must test negative for COVID. Upon returning from an amber country, you must self-isolate for ten days. Additionally, you must fill out a passenger locator form, and take COVID tests on days two and eight after your arrival.

Now, the quarantine requirement can be burdensome for some. Fortunately, the government has launched a test to release scheme. In it, you can choose to pay for a private COVID test on day five. If it comes back negative, you may end your quarantine immediately. Project Screen by Prenetics is one of many UK Gov approved test to release scheme companies you can choose from. With Project Screen, you get a bit more flexibility as you can choose to purchase a home test kit or you can book a test at one of their walk up testing pods. Not all approved testing providers offer this service which can be far quicker and more convenient, depending on your situation and preference.

Nations worst affected by an ongoing COVID outbreak are rated red. You may only travel to and return from these states if you are a UK/Irish national or resident. Before travel, you must test negative for COVID. Upon your return to the UK from a red country, you must isolate ten days in a government-sanctioned quarantine hotel. You must also test negative for COVID on day eight, and fill out a passenger locator form.

Know the Rules and Follow Them

We’ll be frank – these COVID travel rules can be a hassle. But if we want to return to a world where we can travel normally, we must limit the spread of the virus. By following the above rules, not only will you avoid inconvenience, but you’ll be doing your part to defeat COVID-19.  

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