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UK Adds New Testing Requirement For All International Arrivals

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The UK has just announced that it will be adding a new Covid-19 testing requirement for all travelers arriving in the country. The change in policy is the UK's most recent entry requirement alteration that has been implemented to combat the spread of the Omicron variant, and it comes after more cases of the variant were detected in the country over the past few days. The UK has also added another country to its travel red list. 

Much like the Delta variant did, the Omicron variant has forced countries around the world to implement stricter entry requirements in a bid to prevent the variant from spreading through their borders. Here's everything you need to know about the UK's new testing requirements, such as when it comes into effect and who it applies to, plus a reminder of which countries are now on the UK's red travel list. 

UK’s Testing Requirement – What Travelers Should Know

At present, travelers do not need to present a negative Covid-19 test result to enter the UK, with the majority of travelers only having to take a test on or before day 2 of their time in the country. However, this is set to change. Due to fears towards the new virus variant of concern, Omicron, the UK is set to add a pre-departure test to its list of entry requirements once more in a bid to prevent importing cases of the variant. 

The news was announced late last night in a press release by the British government. The announcement revealed that travelers planning on entering the UK would need to provide a negative Covid-19 test result. Both PCR tests and LFD (lateral flow device) tests are to be accepted by the government, and tests must be taken within 48 hours of departure. The change in policy is set to go into effect from 4am on Tuesday, December 7th, and will apply to all travelers above the age of 12. 

The news is being heralded as a hammer blow for the already beleaguered travel and tourism industry in the UK. Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, said: “The introduction of pre-departure testing with little warning is a hammer blow to the business travel industry. Public safety is a priority, but businesses will fail, travellers will be stranded and livelihoods devastated by the lack of coherent plans from the government.”

On top of this change, the UK is set to further expand its travel red list. As of 4am on Monday, December 6th, Nigeria will be added to the country’s red list. This means that only British and Irish travelers may fly from Nigeria to the UK, and they will have to be quarantined in a hotel for a period of 10 days upon their arrival. Other countries on the UK’s red list at present are Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Speaking about the most recent changes, the UK’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, said:

“We knew this winter would be challenging but the arrival of a new variant means we must further strengthen our defences. As our world-leading scientists continue to understand more about the Omicron variant we are taking decisive action to protect public health and the progress of our COVID-19 vaccination programme. I urge everyone to do their bit to slow the spread by following the new travel rules, wearing masks where mandatory and most importantly getting the booster jab when called.”

The changes in travel restrictions are only temporary, and are set to be reviewed on December 20th to ensure that they are still necessary and proportionate. Several other countries around the world, including popular destinations such as the US, France and Portugal, have also tightened their restrictions in recent days. 

London bridge aerial view from the porthole

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Monday 6th of December 2021

Is a pre PCR needed if we are in transit in England , I am headed to Spain from Canada and want to know if I need pcr test for transiting in England. I am assuming yes


Monday 6th of December 2021

@Kashlee Kucheran, thank you

I just booked my pcr test in Montréal , they say results in 5 hours. We will see. Thank you

Kashlee Kucheran

Monday 6th of December 2021

I would plan to have the PCR test. When I looked this up just pre-Omicron for someone, the test was ONLY needed if you did not remain air-side (meaning a connecting flight with a different airline, so you'd have to 'enter' to collect bags and go through security again) but the test was not needed if you stayed within the terminal, same airline, no security, etc. However, with all these new rules everywhere, even if you remain airside, personally I would have the test.


Sunday 5th of December 2021

Is Omicron still a thing? Seems they made a big hoopla 2 weeks ago and since then - zero updates other than another round of unfounded hysterical responses. So other than a total of like 100 "cases" worldwide, none of which seem to have resulted in any illness let alone severe one, there's nothing? I guess it was completely irrelevant, so can we move on? Ah remember the good old days where they "followed the science"? Of course they never really did as "the science" was never unanimous, but at least they followed something while at this point, they don't follow anything at all.


Sunday 5th of December 2021