Travellers to England able to take lateral flow Covid tests from 24 October


Fully vaccinated international passengers arriving in England from countries not on the red list can take a cheaper and quicker lateral flow test from 24 October instead of the PCR version, the government has announced.

Those who have been vaccinated, and most under-18s, can take a lateral flow test on or before day two of their arrival into the UK.

The change will come into effect for those returning from half-term breaks, with Covid-19 tests available to book through private providers listed on the government’s website.

The Department of Health and Social Care said that the tests can be booked from 22 October and passengers must upload a photo of their test to verify their results as soon as possible. Anyone who tests positive will need to self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test.

Eligible travellers are those vaccinated in over 100 countries and territories including Brazil, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey, and will be eligible for the quarantine exemption.

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said: “We want to make going abroad easier and cheaper, whether you’re travelling for work or visiting friends and family.

“Lateral flow tests will be available later this month for those returning from half-term holidays.

“This change to testing is only possible thanks to the incredible progress of our vaccination programme, which means we can safely open up travel as we learn to live with the virus.”

Passengers are also able to book a test which they can take on their arrival into the UK at centres located in some airports.

The government added that travellers who have already bought a PCR do not need to buy another test and lateral flow tests for international travel must be bought from a private provider, as NHS test and trace tests cannot be used for international travel.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said: “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.”

The government said it will extend regulations to allow some tests supplied to the private testing market that are pending validation to remain on the market in the short term to address any potential shortage of supply.

It will continue to publish a list of private testing providers who meet the minimum standards for the public to choose from along with PCR test options available.