The new autumn/winter COVID travel rules explained
On 28/11/21, the travel rules to and from England changed. The ‘traffic light’ system has ended, and now there are rules for travellers from Red List countries, and all other countries. MyHealthChecked has created this guide to explain the rules if you are a traveller who has not visited a Red List country – the Red List Guide is available here.
What’s your vaccination status?
The first big question you’ll face when working out where you stand with the new COVID travel rules is “what is my vaccination status”?
GOV.UK is helpful on this point, explaining that to qualify for fully-vaccinated status in the eyes of English border controls, you must have been fully vaccinated with a full course of an approved vaccine under:
- the UK or UK overseas vaccination programme.
- the United Nations vaccine programme for staff and volunteers.
- an approved programme in one of the countries or territories listed online here.
What are the rules for fully vaccinated travellers?
If you are fully vaccinated, you will need to:
- complete a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before you arrive in England.
- book and pay for a COVID-19 PCR test that must be done by the end your second day in England and quarantine until you receive a negative test result.
Which vaccines count?
The vaccines that count for entry into England are Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen (the one-dose vaccine). Formulations of these vaccines – for example, AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, also qualify as approved vaccines.
Do you need to have both doses?
Yes – to qualify as ‘fully vaccinated’, you must have had both doses of a two-dose vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in England (the day of vaccination doesn’t count towards this). Vaccines can be ‘mix and match’, and can have been administered under different programmes. Find out more on GOV.UK.
Will you need proof of vaccination?
Yes, you will need the NHS COVID Pass if you live in England or Wales, the EU Digital COVID Certificate, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card for US residents. You can also provide a vaccine certificate issued by a national or state-level public health authority in English, French or Spanish. It’s a good idea to check the proof of vaccination required when travelling to England from your country of origin on the GOV.UK website here.
Rules for travellers who are not fully vaccinated
If you are not yet fully vaccinated – or you country’s vaccination programme isn’t covered by the new rules yet – there are different guidelines. You can still travel to England, but there are some extra steps to follow.
- Before you travel to England
- Take a COVID-19 PCR test in the 3 days before you travel to England.
- Book and pay for day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 PCR tests to take after you arrive.
- Complete a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before you arrive in England.
- Once you arrive
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Are there situations where exemption is possible?
There are some situations where you can make a case for medical exemption – for example, if you could suffer a serious allergic reaction – or because of the requirements of your job. Find out more about medical exemptions here and work-related exemptions here.
Reviewed and updated 29/11/2021
Date of publication 25/10/2021