Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Arrival testing ends for fully vaccinated travellers to the UK

‘A landmark moment for international travel,’ says transport secretary Grant Shapps

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 11 February 2022 08:40 GMT

Eighteen days after the transport secretary said the post-arrival test for fully vaccinated travellers to the UK had “outlived its usefulness”, the requirement has been scrapped. Since 4am on 11 February, arrivals no longer need to book and take tests.

The minister, Grant Shapps, said on Thursday afternoon that the change was “a landmark moment for international travel”.

He said: “The UK has eased international travel measures for Covid-19 and now has one of the most free-flowing borders in the world – sending a clear message that we are open for business.

“As our travel sector rapidly recovers, and we accelerate towards a future where we want travel to remain open for good, these rule changes coming ahead of half term are good news for families, businesses and the travel sector.”

Since the transport secretary’s original announcement, testing companies have earned an estimated £60m from returning travellers.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, welcomed the easing of restrictions. But she said: “Whilst the landscape is slowly becoming easier for travel, there continues to be a great deal of complexity.

“Travellers still have to face a minefield of confusing regulations, depending on their destination, regarding test requirements, quarantine and evidence of vaccination.

“Given this backdrop, we would continue to encourage travellers to always book with a human travel agent who can provide much-needed support and guidance.”

The chief executive of the travel association Abta, Mark Tanzer, said: “Today’s changes are a big step forward for the outbound travel industry and holidaymakers, and a recognition of the importance of travel to people’s lives and to the UK economy.

“Travel rules have been holding people back from taking a foreign break so these changes should serve as a boost to consumer confidence, leading more people to plan and book their overseas trips.”

During 2020, testing was dismissed by ministers as being ineffective for international travel. In September of that year the prime minister said: “Ninety-three per cent of the time you could have a real false sense of security, a false sense of confidence when you arrive and take a test.”

But test requirements were brought in at scale in January 2021, creating a billion-pound industry for testing firms.

Since then the rules have changed frequently. In October 2020, the requirement for a PCR after arrival was downgraded to a cheaper, swifter lateral flow test. But within weeks, PCRs and pre-departure tests were reimposed, along with mandatory quarantine, because of concern about the Omicron variant.

The government says a family will typically save £100 on tests when returning to the UK. But overseas holiday destinations have a range of complex rules, often including testing.

Unvaccinated travellers heading for the UK must take a pre-departure test and, after arrival, a PCR – but will no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days.

All arriving travellers must continue to complete the online passenger locator form, which has been slightly simplified for fully vaccinated travellers and now has 20 pages.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in