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UK To Require Pre-Travel Testing Regardless of Vaccination Status


Starting December 7, the United Kingdom (U.K.) will further tighten its entry requirements for inbound foreign travelers, including those coming from non-red-listed countries, such as the United States. The policy alterations are being made in an effort to slow the importation of the Omicron variant, of which 134 cases have already been detected in the U.K.

From Tuesday, all international travelers aged 12 and over, regardless of vaccination status, will need to provide proof of a negative pre-departure test—either PCR or lateral flow (LFD)—taken no more than 48 hours prior to their departure for the U.K.

Airlines will be responsible for checking that travelers have their negative pre-departure tests, along with their completed passenger locator forms, and no one will be permitted to board a U.K.-bound flight without one.

As recently as November 30, the U.K. also altered its rules to require that all international arrivals, regardless of their vaccination status, must take a PCR test on their second day in the country and self-isolate in their hotel rooms until receiving a negative result.

Currently, fully vaccinated U.S. travelers aren’t required to take a pre-travel test but are subject to the second-day testing imperative mentioned above. Meanwhile, unvaccinated U.S. visitors are presently required to provide a negative pre-travel test taken within three days of arriving in the U.K., and then self-isolate for 10 days, taking additional PCR tests on days two and eight of their trip.

As with the U.K.’s other temporary measures related to COVID-19, the new requirements will be reviewed in three weeks’ time to determine whether they remain necessary and proportionate to current pandemic conditions—in this case, on December 20.

As part of the same government-issued statement, it was announced that Nigeria is being added to the U.K.’s “red list” from December 6, after 21 cases of the Omicron variant discovered in England were linked to travel from the African nation.

A temporary ban will be placed on all non-U.K. citizens and residents who have been in Nigeria within the previous 10 days, while U.K. and Irish citizens returning home from Nigeria will be required to isolate in a government-approved managed quarantine facility for 10 days, and get two negative PCR tests during that same interval.

A number of other African countries—including Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe—are already part of the U.K.’s red list, therefore being subject to a special set of travel restrictions.

For the latest insight on travel to the U.K., check out this interactive guide:

For more information, visit visitbritain.com.


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