This article is reviewed regularly (on a monthly basis) by Wego’s editorial team to ensure that the content is up to date & accurate.

Updated November 2021

Each country, state, and territory currently have specific COVID-19 travel guidelines governing who can enter their borders along with the requirements travellers need to satisfy prior to arrival. As for the UK, a complete list of PCR testing instructions for travellers entering the country has also been made available.

Here we’ve put together a handy checklist for the UK’s PCR testing entry requirements.

 

PCR testing requirements in the UK

Travel to the UK generally requires a pre-departure COVID-19 test for arrivals who do not qualify as fully vaccinated and/or have been in a country or territory listed on the red list 10 days before their arrival in the UK.

The UK’s red list is currently vacant; however, the red list along with its policy remains in place. This means travellers must stay up to date with the guidelines for their country before making their way to the UK.

As of now, arrivals may choose to either opt for a lateral flow test or a PCR test. The following are the PCR testing requirements for each country in the UK.

England

Fully vaccinated

To qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller for travel to England, you must have proof of complete vaccination with an entire course of an approved vaccine. Following are the guidelines for PCR testing before you travel to England:

  • Book your COVID-19 PCR test (to be taken on day 2 after arrival). If you plan on staying for less than 2 days, you will still need to book and pay for a PCR test.
  • Complete your passenger locator form and enter your PCR test booking reference number.

Not fully vaccinated

  • Take a COVID-19 test 3 days before you travel to England
  • Book your COVID-19 PCR test for day 2 and day 8 (to be taken after arrival).
  • Complete your passenger locator form and enter your PCR test booking reference number.
  • Children under the age of 4 who come from any country not on the approved proof of vaccination list do not have to take travel tests.

 

Wales

Fully vaccinated

If you are arriving from a country that is not on the red list:

  • Book your COVID-19 PCR tests (to be taken on day 2 after arrival) on the CTM booking portal. Private sector tests can be booked from a private provider listed on GOV.UK
  • Complete a passenger locator form online before you arrive in Wales.

Not fully vaccinated

If you are arriving from a country that is not on the red:

  • Book your post-arrival PCR test before departure on the CTM booking portal or from a private provider listed on GOV.UK
  • Complete your passenger locator form.
  • Take a PCR test not more than 72 hours before departure (not applicable for children under 11).
  • Travellers arriving from a red list country must follow the instructions stated on the Wales government website.

 

Scotland

Fully vaccinated

If you are arriving from a country that is not on the red list:

  • Complete your passenger locator form and take a COVID-19 test within 2 days of arriving in Scotland.
  • You can use the CTM booking portal to book and pay £68 for an NHS COVID-19 PCR test.

Not fully vaccinated

If you are arriving from non-red list countries:

  • Complete a passenger locator form
  • Before departure, you will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test. Test results should be in English, French or Spanish with all the required details such as your name, date of birth, negative test result, date of test etc.
  • Also, book a day 2 and day 8 PCR test.
  • Children under 18 do not need to take a PCR test before they travel to Scotland. However, children aged 11 to 17, must take a COVID-19 Day 2 PCR test within 2 days of arriving in Scotland.

 

Northern Ireland

Fully vaccinated

If you are arriving from a country that is not on the red list:

  • Before you travel, you will need to complete your passenger locator form and book and pay for a PCR test to be taken on or before day two following your arrival in Northern Ireland.
  • Youth under 18 will also need to follow the above instructions but will not be required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test or a take a day eight post-arrival PCR test.

Not fully vaccinated

All those aged 11 years and over, who do not qualify as fully vaccinated, must take a COVID-19 test in the three days before you start your journey to Northern Ireland. If you are travelling from non-red list countries:

  • complete a UK Passenger Locator Form on arrival or in the 48 hours before arrival in Northern Ireland.
  • take a pre-departure COVID-19 test in the three days before you travel to Northern Ireland.
  • book and pay for a day two and day eight PCR post-arrival test package.
  • You cannot leave self-isolation until you have completed your 10-day isolation period and only then if your day eight test is negative.

Guidelines for testing in the UK after reaching your destination and during quarantine are mentioned below.

 

What about testing at the airport?

The UK requires all arrivals to conduct either a lateral or PCR test on or before day 2. Heathrow and most other airports facilitate testing as soon as travellers arrive at the airport. This means arriving passengers can get tested as soon as they land in the UK and get the test requirements out of the way early on. Arrivals can also opt to take the test on day 2 at the airport or any other accredited testing facility.

 

Testing in quarantine

Arrivals required to quarantine following a positive test result are subject to the following PCR test requirements:

Fully-vaccinated travellers

  • Fully vaccinated travellers arriving in England will need to take the PCR test on or before day 2. If the test result is negative, quarantine will not be required
  • Fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Wales will need to take the PCR test except for children under 5. If the test result is negative, quarantine will not be required
  • Fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Scotland will need to take a COVID-19 test within 2 days. If the test result is negative, quarantine will not be required
  • Those arriving in Northern Ireland will need to take a COVID-19 test on day 2. 

 

Unvaccinated travellers

  • Partially/non-vaccinated travellers arriving in England will need to quarantine for 10 days at the place they are staying and take a PCR test on day 2 and day 8. You only need to take the tests if you are still in England on those days. If your day 2 or day 8 test is positive, you will need to quarantine for 10 days after the test result.
  • Partially/non-vaccinated travellers arriving in Wales will need to quarantine for 10 days. Quarantine is not required for travellers under the age of 18. A COVID-19 test is mandatory during the 10-day isolation; on day 2 and day 8. This is not necessary for children under the age of 5.
  • Partially/non-vaccinated travellers arriving in Scotland must quarantine at the place they are staying for 10 days and then take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of their 10-day isolation. Children aged 11 to 17, must also take a COVID-19 Day 2 PCR test within 2 days of arriving in Scotland.
  • Unvaccinated travellers arriving in Northern Ireland must self-isolate for 10 days at the address they provided in their Passenger Locator Form and should then take a COVID-19 PCR test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of their stay.

 

Exemptions

You do not need to take a COVID-19 test if you are travelling to the UK:

  • for urgent medical treatment or are accompanying someone who is travelling for urgent medical treatment, and it is not reasonably practical for you to obtain a negative COVID-19 test in the 3 days before departure
  • if you have a medical condition that does not permit you to take a test (you will need to present your medical record as proof).
  • Some people are exempt from some or all of the requirements because of the job they do
  • Travellers from Ethiopia need not take a pre-departure test if they’re travelling to the UK from Ethiopia. This is as a result of the current security situation in Ethiopia