UK rule change comes in for travellers to use Covid lateral flow tests instead of PCR

The tests must be purchased from a private provider

Fully vaccinated UK travellers are no more required to take day two PCR tests on their return. Getty Images
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Coronavirus rules will relax for returning holidaymakers who are fully vaccinated in what the UK Government is describing as a “huge boost” for the travel industry.

From 4am on Sunday – and in time for half-term holidays – fully vaccinated people arriving in England from a non-red list country can use a lateral flow test rather than the more expensive PCR version on or before day two.

Lateral flow tests for international travel must be purchased from a private provider as NHS Test and Trace lateral flow tests cannot be used for international travel.

Bookings for lateral flow tests opened on Friday and can be purchased through the private providers listed on GOV.UK.

As of Saturday afternoon, there were 25 providers on the Government website and prices ranged from £19 to £39.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said passengers must send a photo of their test result to the private provider. Failure to do so, it said, could result in a fine of £1,000.

People who test positive will need to take a free NHS confirmatory PCR test and isolate.

Anyone travelling on to Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Island or the Isle of Man in the 10 days after arrival in England, must follow the rules for testing and quarantine in those places.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said eligible travellers who’ve had the life-saving Covid-19 vaccine could benefit from a cheaper and quicker lateral flow test.

“This is a huge boost to the travel industry and the public. Will make it easier and cheaper for people to book holidays and travel abroad. It is because of our incredible vaccine programme that this is possible," he said.

This is a huge boost to the travel industry and the public. Will make it easier and cheaper for people to book holidays
Sajid Javid

“Anyone who tests positive must take a PCR test, which, if positive, may be genomically sequenced to check for variants and further help us fight this virus.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said the change in rules would give passengers more options and faster results, just in time for many half-term holidays.

“It’s thanks to the success of our vaccination programme that we can make this switch, giving the industry and consumers a much-needed boost.”

Updated: October 25, 2021, 7:03 AM