Lateral flow tests replacing PCRs for vaccinated arrivals at half-term

Passengers must upload a photo of their test and booking reference supplied by the private provider.

Eligible travellers will be able to order lateral flow tests from private testing providers
Eligible travellers will be able to order lateral flow tests from private testing providers

Fully vaccinated people arriving in England from countries not on the red list can take a cheaper and quicker lateral flow test rather than the PCR version from October 24.

The change to the post-arrival day two test will come into effect for those returning from half-term breaks.

Passengers must upload a photo of their test and booking reference supplied by the private provider to verify results as soon as possible, with free confirmatory NHS PCR tests for any positive cases, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Eligible travellers will be able to order lateral flow tests from private testing providers, with a list of approved private providers going live on GOV.UK on October 22.

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

Anyone who tests positive will need to self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid 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.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps 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.”

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said: “This is great news and we’re pleased to get it over the line in time for the crucial half-term period, which will be a massive relief to families desperate to get away this autumn.

“Vaccinated passengers can be reassured that they do not need to book or take an expensive PCR test when they return to the UK, which will further reduce the cost of travel.

“It adds to the positive news from last week with the substantial reduction of the red list and announcement of further mutual recognition of vaccines, and taken together this is a major step forward that will support the desperately needed recovery of our sector.”

Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “It’s progress but if you’re fully jabbed you shouldn’t need to take a test at all.

“Testing measures are not only a faff for many but also amount to a tax on travel and put off people from booking with confidence, due to the higher costs.

“These barriers certainly won’t help the travel sector to recover as quickly as it should be by now.

“In addition, I don’t have to be tested if I return from a packed football stadium so why should I have to take a test returning from a business meeting or villa holiday?”

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