The UK government has announced that fully vaccinated international passengers arriving in England will no longer have to take Covid-19 PCR tests on arrival but can instead take the cheaper and quicker lateral flow test.
These changes will take effect from 24 October, the UK government said in a notice on Thursday (14 October), and will apply to all countries that are not currently on the UK’s travel red list – including South Africa.
“Eligible fully vaccinated passengers arriving in England from countries not on the red list can take a lateral flow test on or before day 2 of their arrival from 24 October, rather than PCR tests – cutting the cost of tests in time for travellers returning from half-term breaks. These can be booked from 22 October.
“Eligible travellers will be able to order cheaper lateral flow tests from private testing providers as an alternative to a PCR, offering faster results. The list of approved private providers will go live on 22 October.”
Passengers will need to take a photo of their lateral flow test and booking reference supplied by the private provider and send it back to them to verify the result.
Passengers can also book to have a test that they can take on their arrival into the UK at testing centres located in some airports.
The UK’s secretary of state for Transport Grant Shapps said that the move would help boost the country’s tourism industry and was a major step to reopening travel.
“Today’s rule changes will make testing on arrival simpler and cheaper for people across the country who are looking forward to well-earned breaks for this October half term.
“Taking away expensive mandatory PCR testing will boost the travel industry and is a major step forward in normalising international travel and encouraging people to book holidays with confidence.”
South Africa was officially removed from the UK’s red list on Monday (11 October), meaning travellers will no longer have to endure an expensive 10-day hotel quarantine when flying to the country.
To enter the UK under the new regulations, you must have had a complete course of one of the following vaccines at least 14 days before you arrive in England:
- Pfizer BioNTech
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
However, health minister Dr Joe Phaahla has confirmed that the UK will accept South Africa’s newly-launched digital vaccine passport as proof of vaccination.