Fully-vaccinated UAE residents and Emiratis will soon be able to fly to the UK without needing to quarantine or take a PCR test.
On October 4, England will relax travel restrictions for those who have taken one of four authorised vaccines.
Visitors will not need to take a PCR test before they leave the UAE, or on arrival. Instead, they will need to take a lateral flow test on or before day two of their arrival in England. No other tests are required.
Lateral flow tests are freely available in the UK at no cost, whereas PCR tests are still often expensive.
Travellers must fill out a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before they arrive in the UK.
Non-vaccinated travellers will still need to quarantine and take regular PCR tests, including a test before they board the flight for the UK.
Which vaccines are approved for entry to the UK?
Travellers must be fully vaccinated with either the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, which include two doses, or the single-dose Janssen vaccine. Sinopharm is not an approved vaccine.
If a fully vaccinated traveller has received mixed doses of the approved vaccines, that is deemed permissible. But people who have had only one Pfizer jab, for example, will not be allowed quarantine-free travel into the UK, even if they have also had two Sinopharm doses.
They must be fully vaccinated with one of the approved vaccines, regardless of any other vaccines they have received previously.
How long must you wait after being vaccinated before travelling to the UK?
Passengers must have been fully vaccinated for 14 days.
How do passengers prove they are vaccinated?
Travellers must be able to prove they are vaccinated with either a digital or paper-based document displaying, at a minimum, their forename and surname, date of birth, vaccine brand and manufacturer, date of vaccination for every dose, country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer.
If the document does not display this information, then they must follow rules for non-vaccinated travellers or risk being denied the right to board their flight.
The UK's approved vaccines for travel:
The mRNA vaccine was developed by US pharma company Pfizer and the German biotech company BioNTech.
Instead of using deactivated virus, like the Sinopharm vaccine, the Pfizer-BioNTech shot contains a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognise the spiked protein on the surface of the virus.
Most residents and Emiratis in Dubai who were vaccinated after December 2020 were given the choice between Pfizer-BioNTech or Sinopharm vaccines.
Since April, Pfizer booster shots have been made available across the UAE to people who have had two jabs of Sinopharm.
Most people have had just one shot, although some have had two. Travellers need to have had two shots to travel to the UK quarantine-free.
Dubai approved the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca in February 2021.
Not many doses came into the country, and the shot was primarily made available to Emiratis and over-60s, frontline and essential workers and people with disabilities.
The consignment was ordered from the Serum Institute of India, which makes the vaccine under licence, using the name Covishield.
The vaccine is given in two doses, 28 days apart. It is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus from chimpanzees, which has been modified to contain genetic material which is shared by the coronavirus, but it cannot cause the illness.
Once it is injected, it teaches the immune system how to fight the real virus.
Moderna was approved for emergency use in the UAE in July.
The approval followed a deal between Moderna and a UAE-based distributor, Magenta Investments.
The vaccine has not been widely administered to the public.
Moderna’s vaccine, similar to the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, uses mRNA technology and contains genetic instructions for the cells to make the coronavirus’s spike protein.
Janssen, developed by Johnson & Johnson, is not one of the five UAE approved vaccines.
It was, however, approved in the UK in May 2021.
It is a single-dose vaccine, and it can be easily stored and transported at fridge temperatures.
The vaccine uses the same technology as the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, in that it tricks the body into thinking it has the coronavirus, so that it builds up an immune response.