Home Arts What tests and jabs do I need to travel abroad this Christmas?

What tests and jabs do I need to travel abroad this Christmas?

Restrictions on entering the US have eased.

Fully vaccinated travellers from more than 30 countries including the UK can now visit.

Rules are also changing in some parts of Europe, in response to a rising number of Covid cases.

What are the new US rules?

Vaccinated people who have had a negative test taken no more than three days before travelling can enter without quarantining.

Another test, three to five days after arriving in the US, is recommended.

Vaccine certificates – including the NHS Covid Pass and equivalents from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – are accepted.

Children under 18 do not need to be vaccinated, but should also take a test after arriving.

Masks are mandatory on planes and in airports, and travellers must follow state and local rules at their destination.

What’s happening in Europe?

Some European countries are tightening their rules around vaccination.

In France, from 15 December, over-65s must have had a booster jab to be allowed to travel or visit restaurants and museums.

It is not clear whether this will also apply to UK visitors.

People in England can now show that they have had a third dose using the NHS Covid Pass, while users in Wales will be able to do this from 29 November.

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In Austria you must have received your second or third dose less than 360 days before arrival.

In Switzerland, your vaccination is also only valid for 12 months after the date of your last dose.

You need to keep checking the rules for your destination country as these can change at short notice.

The UK Foreign Office provides country-by-country travel advice.


What are the rules for travelling to the UK?

There are no longer any countries on the UK’s travel red list, so no traveller to the UK has to pay for hotel quarantine on arrival. However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said this could change if needed.

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Before travelling to the UK

Fully vaccinated passengers travelling to the UK no longer have to take a Covid test before setting off.

This applies to people vaccinated in the UK, the EU, the US and dozens of other recognised countries – including Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey.

You must be able to prove you are fully vaccinated before travelling.

The changes also apply to under-18s resident in one of these countries, whether or not they are vaccinated.

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Business traveller looking at her phoneIMAGE SOURCE, GETTY IMAGES

Upon arrival

Fully vaccinated people travelling to the UK need to take a lateral flow test two days after arrival.

They should order and pay for a test kit privately before they arrive – NHS kits cannot be used.

If they have ordered a home testing kit, they will usually have to send a picture to verify the result.

All travellers coming to the UK must also fill in a passenger locator form – even if they are just passing through – which they need to fill in 48 hours or less before their journey.

What if I’m unvaccinated?

If you aren’t fully vaccinated – and you’re over 18 – you must self-isolate at home for 10 days after arrival in the UK.

You also need to

  • take a PCR or lateral flow/antigen test (not a free NHS test) in the three days before you travel to the UK
  • take a test on or before day two and on or after day eight after your return.

Test to Release will remain an option for unvaccinated passengers to England who want to shorten their quarantine.


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