Travelling abroad during this pandemic entails taking Covid-19 tests. Returning from a holiday or business trip could require even more tests!

If you are planning to travel outside the UK for a holiday, business trip or a dire situation, you need to keep in mind the country you are visiting is on the red, amber, or green list, and the rules that you need to follow after. Here is a look at the testing requirements for your return to the UK.

Rules for returning from red-list countries

According to the UK government, the red list countries are the ones that have the highest risk of Covid-19 and thus these nations should not be visited except in extreme cases. There are a number of countries, which are on the red list presently like South Africa, Pakistan, Brazil among others. If you happen to have visited any of these countries in the last ten days, you will be allowed to enter the UK. Only if you are an Irish or UK national, or a resident of the UK. Other than this, a few more important things that are a must-to-do to enter the country include:

  • Taking a pre-departure COVID test and having a certificate with you that confirms you have tested negative. You must take the test within 3 days of your flight to the UK. This applies to every individual above 10 years of age. Since you will be getting tested with a private test provider, you must ensure that the test meets the following criteria so that it conforms to the standards prescribed by the UK Government:
  • The test must meet performance standards of ≥97% specificity, ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml.
  • This includes RT-PCR, LAMP tests, and Antigen test
  • Filling up the passenger locator form
  • Completely isolating in a government-approved quarantine hotel for ten days; the hotel needs to be booked and paid in advance; along with two pre-booked Covid19 tests – to be taken on or before day 2 and on or after Day 8.

Rules for returning from amber-list countries

If you happen to visit an amber list country, the things that you need to do before and after entering the UK include:

  • No need to self-isolate after arrival if you’re fully vaccinated in the UK
  • COVID test to be done within 3 days of your return flight to the UK.
  • A PCR test as the first test to be done after two days of arrival in the UK
  • Especially if you are returning from Spain, you will be asked to do the PCR test which is more appropriate than antigen test or lateral flow on day 2 of arrival.
  • Children below 18 years of age don’t have to isolate themselves. In Northern Ireland, Wales, and England, there is no need to do a pre-departure test for children of 10 years of age and below but they need to take the PCR test after 2 days of arrival. Children who are 5 years of age and below do not need to undergo any kind of tests.
  • However, if you’re returning from Scotland with your child, then the rule requires testing of children over 11 years of age both for pre-departure and on day 2 after arrival.

Rules for returning from green-list countries

If you visit a green list country, there is no need to self-isolate after returning to the UK. You just need to:

  • Take a pre-departure Covid-19 test and get a negative certificate
  • Book the day 2 test after returning to the UK from an approved PCR test clinic in the UK. Children who are 4 years of age and below do not have to test. However, if you’ve tested positive, you will need to self-isolate as per NHS rules.
  • Fill in your details in a passenger locator form.

These precautions are meant to safeguard the health of travelers, their families and friends, and to keep Covid-19 in check. Complying with the rules may be a small hardship in the face of the immeasurable and prolonged humanitarian crisis that we are faced with.

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