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PCR tests to be scrapped for fully vaccinated travellers returning to England in October

PCR tests to be scrapped for fully vaccinated travellers returning to England in October

Fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test before they depart for England from 4 October. In addition, they'll only need to take a cheaper lateral flow test on arrival to England from later next month under an overhaul to the 'traffic light' travel system. Eight destinations will also come off the red list from 22 September. 

From 4am on Monday 4 October, the current traffic light system in England will be scrapped with fully vaccinated travellers from a non-red list destination no longer required to take a pre-departure home test, which could save people between £22 and £39 based on our research of the cheapest providers. 

In addition, later in October (an exact date has yet to be confirmed) the Government also plans to scrap its requirement for fully vaccinated travellers to England from non-red list destinations to take a PCR test at day two and eight. Instead, travellers will be able to complete a cheaper rapid antigen lateral flow test at day two.

It comes after health secretary, Sajid Javid said he wanted to scrap PCR tests on return to the UK for fully vaccinated travellers. But those who aren't fully vaccinated, and who travel to England from 4 October from a non-red list destination, will face pre-departure rapid antigen and post-arrival PCR tests, as well as a 10-day quarantine at home.

Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales have the option to set their own rules on travel, and both the Scottish and Welsh governments have told us they're considering the UK government's plans. We've not had a response from Northern Ireland yet but we'll update our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide when we know more.  

Bear in mind both the current and new traffic light systems only dictate what you need to do on return to England, and you still need to check the entry requirements of the country or territory you're travelling to and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office guidance. For more info on travelling abroad, take a look at our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide.

How the red list will change from 22 September

In addition to the traffic light overhaul, the following eight destinations will be moved from the red to amber list at 4am on Wednesday 22 September, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced: 

  • Bangladesh
  • Egypt
  • Kenya
  • The Maldives
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Turkey

This will apply to travellers to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It means you'll no longer need to stay in managed quarantine on your return, while fully vaccinated travellers won't need to quarantine at all. 

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