It's Now Easier for Fully Vaccinated Travelers to Visit the U.K.

by Natasha Gabrielle | Published on Oct. 7, 2021

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A visitor uses their smartphone as they wait for a train to arrive in a railroad station.

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If you're a fully vaccinated traveler who plans to visit the U.K., here's what you need to know before you leave.

As the pandemic wears on, country entry rules continue to change often. Until recently, there were many hurdles to enter the United Kingdom (U.K.), even as a fully vaccinated traveler. The good news is the entry requirements have been updated as of Oct. 4, making it easier to visit if you're fully vaccinated.

Previously, the U.K. had a traffic light system where countries were listed as red, amber, or green, with the colors indicating the country's current level of COVID-19 risk. Each color had its own rules for testing and quarantine requirements. That system has been scrapped.

Now, some countries with a high COVID-19 risk will be listed as red countries, while others will be considered non-red countries. If you're fully vaccinated and reside in or are visiting from a non-red country, it will be relatively easy to visit the U.K.

Find out more about these changes to better understand what to expect for your upcoming travels.

Here's how the new system works for eligible vaccinated travelers

Fully vaccinated adult travelers from non-red list countries will no longer need to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test. You must be able to prove that you're fully vaccinated, however. To be considered fully vaccinated, you need to have received a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before arrival.

All travelers under 18 who are residents from non-red countries can also travel without taking a pre-departure test, regardless of their vaccination status.

A COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken two days after arrival will still be required for all travelers, except children under 5 years old. This test needs to be booked before you travel. All travelers, regardless of age, also need to complete a passenger locator form within 48 hours before arrival.

What about unvaccinated travelers visiting from non-red countries?

If you're unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated, the rules are different. Here's what unvaccinated travelers over 18 will need to do:

  1. Take a COVID-19 PCR or antigen test within three days before arrival
  2. Book and pay for a day two and day eight COVID-19 test in advance
  3. Complete a passenger locator form
  4. Quarantine at home or in the place you're staying for 10 days

If you're visiting the U.K. for less than 10 days, you'll need to quarantine for the entire time.

What about travelers from red countries?

If you've been in a red list country within the last 10 days, different rules apply. If you're a British or Irish national or have residence rights in the U.K., you can visit without restrictions.

Otherwise, you'll need to do the following:

  1. Take a COVID-19 test within three days before travel
  2. Book a quarantine hotel package and quarantine for 10 days
  3. Take a COVID-19 test on or before day two and on or after day eight of quarantine
  4. Complete a passenger locator form

These requirements apply to fully vaccinated travelers who have traveled through or visited a red list country within the last 10 days.

Under the current rules, fully vaccinated tourists coming from non-red countries will have the fewest restrictions when visiting the U.K. If you're not yet vaccinated and want to travel internationally, you may want to consider getting vaccinated soon. Some countries now ban unvaccinated visitors or have more restrictions in place for entry.

Be flexible and budget for added expenses

Traveling during a pandemic comes with added costs. If you're planning to visit the U.K. or any other international destination soon, plan for extra room in your vacation budget for additional costs, including unexpected expenses. It also helps to be flexible as travel restrictions and entry rules change frequently. It's smart to keep checking the rules during your trip to avoid disappointing surprises.

Booking your trip with a travel rewards credit card can help you save a little money while juggling pandemic restrictions. You can earn rewards for purchases and can redeem your rewards for future travel. Plus, your travel credit card may include added perks like trip interruption or trip cancellation protection.

If you're making travel reservations and want to apply for a new credit card, take a look at our top travel rewards credit cards for inspiration.

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