Travel to UK: England set to drop pre-departure testing requirement for vaccinated travelers from US

·3 min read

England is set to ease testing requirements for travelers from countries that are not under the United Kingdom's "red list," including the United States.

Starting Oct. 4, fully vaccinated travelers from non-red countries won’t need to take a pre-departure test before arrival, according to a Sept. 17 tweet from Grant Shapps, secretary of state for transport of the U.K. The U.S. is currently on the "amber list."

An emailed statement from the national tourism agency VisitBritain said while the red list remains under review, there is no indication that the U.S. will move to the red list by Oct. 4.

While post-arrival testing requirements will remain, England is set to allow "cheaper lateral flow" tests in lieu of PCR tests later in October. Unvaccinated tourists will still need to quarantine upon arrival.

This is the U.K.'s latest move that makes travel to England easier for U.S. travelers. In July, the U.K. dropped its quarantine mandate for vaccinated tourists from the U.S. Testing requirements remained stringent, however, and England has been requiring both pre-departure tests and a second test on day two of a trip from vaccinated U.S. travelers.

Shapps also revealed that the U.K. is moving toward a “simplified system for international travel” starting Oct. 4, doing away with its current approach that categorizes countries as red, amber or green. Instead, the U.K. will have a single red list and “simplified measures for the rest of the world,” according to a tweet.

The change only applies to England, since Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland determine their own entry requirements.

A Sept. 17 statement from the Scottish government said it will also move toward a "streamlined system" for international travel that merges its amber and green lists. While the country initially planned to retain its pre-departure testing requirement and use of PCR tests for post-arrival testing, Transport Secretary Michael Matheson later said that the country's testing policy for inbound international travel would ease to align with the U.K. "following consideration of the logistical, health and economic implications."

People wait for passengers in International Arrivals at Heathrow Terminal 5 on March 17, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.
People wait for passengers in International Arrivals at Heathrow Terminal 5 on March 17, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.

Here's a full list of the entry requirements for unvaccinated and vaccinated travelers from non-red countries, starting Oct. 4:

If fully vaccinated, travelers to England must:

  • complete a passenger locator form within 48 hours before arrival.

  • book and pay for a post-arrival coronavirus test to be taken on or before day two of the trip.

In unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, travelers to England must:

  • complete a passenger locator form within 48 hours before arrival.

  • take a pre-departure coronavirus test within three days before travel.

  • book and pay for two post-arrival coronavirus tests to be taken on or before day two and on or after day eight.

  • quarantine for 10 days after arrival. The self-isolation period can end early if a traveler pays for a private coronavirus test.

► UK travel: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland reopen to vaccinated Americans

► Which EU countries are open to tourists?: A breakdown of EU travel restrictions by country

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: England to ease testing requirements for vaccinated travelers from US

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