Although lockdowns began only 16 months ago, it feels like sightseers have been lamenting over not being able to travel to international destinations like the United Kingdom for much longer than that. Fortunately, those wondering, “when can I travel to the UK?” do not have to wonder anymore. As of August 2nd, quarantine-free entry to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales is now possible for vaccinated travelers.
If you’re planning a potential journey to the UK, you’ll need a few things. Vaccine paperwork and COVID testing are required to travel to the UK. Travelers must also come with a completed passenger locator form. It can be difficult to find all the right info in one place, so we’ve collected the details on quarantine and test requirements, vaccination documentation and what awaits you upon arrival in the United Kingdom.
Read more: When can I travel to Europe again?
What documents do American citizens need to enter the UK?
- Completed passenger locator form
- Negative COVID pre-departure test (no more than 72 hours old)
- Proof of pre-booked PCR test for day two after arrival
- Proof of vaccination
- Passport, visa or proof of residency
Do I need a COVID test when I travel to the UK?
If you’re a vaccinated person wondering, “when can I travel to the UK?” the answer is now! Travelers from the United States became eligible to enter the UK for non-essential travel on August 2, 2021, after rules were changed for the UK’s amber travel list, which the USA is on. The color-coded categorization is a non-permanent designation that may change. However, several rules accompanied the update.
For example, all those who travel to the UK must have proof of two negative COVID tests.
The first is a pre-departure COVID-test that must be taken no more than 3 days before travel to the UK. The second test must be scheduled to take place on or before day two of your visit to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. Proof of booking this test will be required upon entry and the reference number of your test must be entered on your passenger locator form.
To get technical details on journeying to each country, check these government websites:
- For England: Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread
- For Scotland: Coronavirus in Scotland
- Northern Ireland: Coronavirus regulations guidance
- For Wales: Coronavirus guidance
You can find even more information from the UK Embassy website.
Additionally, if you’re visiting England, find a COVID-19 travel test provider and book your day 2 test.
What do vaccinated travelers need to enter the UK?
While visiting the UK, vaccinated travelers are eligible to skip the mandatory 10-day quarantine that is required for non-vaccinated visitors. To do so, travelers must have government-certified proof of a UK-accepted vaccination. For U.S. citizens, this is the paper card that the CDC provides, which has vaccination date, vaccine maker, batch number and place of vaccination. U.S. citizens must also have proof of residency, such as a passport or green card.
Which vaccines are accepted?
Travelers must show proof of vaccination from a UK-approved treatment. Failure to do so could result in fines or a denial of entry. As of August 11, 2021, the UK is accepting U.S. citizens who have received an FDA-authorized vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.
Will hospitality and public transit amenities be operating when I travel to the UK?
The UK began reducing COVID restrictions on pubs, cafes and restaurants on July 19, 2021. The current regulations vary by nation. Primarily, these rules focus on the size of groups able to enter a particular venue, as well as social distancing and face-covering guidelines.
Public transportation is open in all countries across the UK, but may be limited in capacity. Furthermore, mandates on mask-wearing and social distancing vary and exist for citizens even if they have received a full vaccination. As of August 7, 2021, most restrictions have been relaxed. Here are some of the details, per the BBC:
What to know for England:
- The law does not mandate masks. Some travel operators and shop owners may still require them.
- No limits on the number of people who can gather indoors or outdoors.
- There are no social distancing requirements, except in hospitals and passport control areas upon entry.
Regulations in Wales:
- No limits on crowd sizes or social distancing.
- Masks are compulsory in public transit, shops and restaurants.
- Pubs and bars do not require face coverings.
COVID rules in Northern Ireland:
- Masks are mandatory in all public spaces.
- Limits on number of people who can meet in indoor and outdoor spaces.
- Most indoor spaces require social distancing of three feet.
- Social distancing capacity limits on public transportation.
Restrictions when visiting Scotland:
- Face coverings are compulsory in public spaces.
- No distancing or limits on the size of congregating groups.
- Indoor hospitality venues are collecting customer contact information.
- Reduced capacity is in place on transit systems.
Read more: Can I travel if I’m partially vaccinated?
Vaccinated travelers are welcome in the UK
Although some regulations do still exist for travelers arriving in the UK, fully vaccinated visitors can now enter the region without quarantining. Additionally, COVID tests remain a requirement for all travelers visiting the UK. Remember to pre-book your day two test, and then enjoy your vacation with a bit of ease. You’ve made it to the United Kingdom in a safe fashion.
Discover where you can go now
Making plans to get back out there? Find out where borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.
In order to be considered fully vaccinated, travelers must have received their final dose of an approved vaccine at least 14 days prior to arriving in the United Kingdom. The date of vaccination is considered day 0.
A pre-departure COVID test is required before entering the UK. This test must be no more than 72 hours old. Additionally, visitors to the UK must show proof of a pre-booked test scheduled on or before day two of arrival. Non-vaccinated travelers must quarantine for 10 days, taking a third test on day 8 of their arrival.
All visitors must fill out a passenger locator form. Vaccinated travelers must show government-certified proof of vaccination. All travelers must show proof of a pre-booked day two COVID-test and proof of residency, such as a passport.
Want to read more?
- Coronavirus travel guidance: The latest news and information to prepare you for domestic travel.
- How early do you need to arrive at the airport? Use these tips to get there right on time.
- These five locales are long-term destinations for sustainably-minded travelers.
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