Travellers from Europe to England face fewer Covid tests as UK eases border rules

Vaccinated travellers from Europe will no longer have to take pre-departure Covid-19 tests when heading to England, after the UK announced a shake up of border rules.

(Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP)

The shake up of the much-maligned Covid travel rules for entering UK countries comes into force on Monday, October 4th.

The new measures are initially only applicable for travel to England but the devolved nations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are likely to follow suit.

Travellers heading from European countries to the England should take note of the following changes:

  • The UK has scrapped its “amber” list which contained most European countries. It now has just a reduced red list and then the “rest of the world” which currently contains European countries.
  • Vaccinated travellers from green list countries do not need to undertake pre-departure tests for travel to England (previously those travelling from European countries needed a PCR or antigen/lateral flow test within 72 hours of travel). This measure will be applicable from October 4th a 4am.
  • Those arriving in England from a non-red country will still need a test on day two of arrival, but it can be the cheaper lateral flow tests rather than the expensive PCR tests which previously needed to be reserved and paid for in advance of travel. This measure will come into force “later in October” and would only be for those who have been injected against Covid-19 with an “approved vaccine”. It was not clear whether these would have to be paid for and reserved in advance.
  • Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which “would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants”.  
    • For unvaccinated travellers, strict rules still apply including the need to quarantine for 10 days after arrival . “Testing for unvaccinated passengers from non-red countries will include pre-departure tests, day 2 and day 8 PCR tests. and test to release remains an option to reduce self-isolation period,” the government said.
  • All passengers will still need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form ahead of travel. 

Member comments

  1. I wonder what the situation will be under the new guidelines for people travelling to England who had a second vaccine jab that was different from their first one.

    1. That’s what I’m trying to find out. The new announcement on the UK website would seem to indicate that a mix of two different approved vaccines will be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ from October 4th. However if you click the link provided it takes you to the current definition which says a mixed jab is not considered ‘fully vaccinate‘. We need some clarity!

  2. If you read the UK Government website it states that to prove you are fully vaccinated your certificate has to show the date of both vaccinations – our Green Passes only show the date of the last vaccination. It states that if your certificate doesn’t show this information you have to follow the rules for unvaccinated.
    “You must be able to prove that you have been fully vaccinated (plus 14 days) with a document (digital or paper-based) from a national or state-level public health body that includes, as a minimum:

    forename and surname(s)
    date of birth
    vaccine brand and manufacturer
    date of vaccination for every dose
    country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer
    If your document from a public health body does not include all of these, you must follow the non-vaccinated rules. If not, you may be denied boarding.”

  3. I’m not 100% certain that the last paragraph of this article correct. At the moment the UK Government website does say this but! The most recent announcement says the following:
    ‘ Travel from the rest of the world if you are fully vaccinated
    From 4am Monday 4 October, if you have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days:

    under an approved vaccination program in the UK, Europe, US or UK vaccine programme overseas
    with a full course of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines from a relevant public health body in Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan – mixing between two-dose vaccines (Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna) in this list is also recognised
    under a formally approved COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial in the US, Canada and Australia and have a proof of participation (digital or paper-based) from a public health body

    Note the line: ‘mixing between two-dose vaccines (Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna) in this list is also recognised’. Also recognised as the ‘UK, Europe, US or UK vaccine programme overseas’? Otherwise this announcement is saying the mixing between two-dose vaccinations is fine from that list of countries but not Europe!

    I would be grateful if The Local would check please

    1. Hey Simon and all others with the same question. We have been looking into this today and you might have seen the recent articles. We are also very confused by all the government websites and links. We asked the department of health to clarify it and they insisted (or at least a spokesperson did) that there’s been no change regarding mixed vaccines in Europe – in other words they are not classed as fully vaccinated. However this info was contradicted by a post on the British embassy’s Facebook page in Germany. So I’ve asked the DEpt of Health in UK to once again clarify. The confusing part of the info for the public is around the words “in this list” – what list exactly? The list of those countries? Or does it include Europe, the US and UK? Hopefully will get to the bottom of it…

      1. Hi Ben, Sorry about my recent posts. Just read this after I posted! Yes lots of contradictory information being given by people in Government positions that should know better! Personally, and this is just my opinion, I think the jobs worth ‘spokesperson(s)’ are just sticking to what is current. We’ll soon find out though as I’m driving from Frankfurt to England via Belgium, France (Dunkirk-Dover) on the 10 O’clock ferry on Monday 4th Oct!

        1. I think you are right. The spokesperson is promising me an answer soon. We’ll post an update ASAP. THanks for your posts.

      2. I have searched and searched for the so called list of countries and it is nowhere to be found! Such conflicting information it’s ridiculous.

      3. Just posted on the Embassy FB page

        Brits in Germany could you please confirm that as from 4.10.21 people with mixed vaccinations , as advised by the German government , WILL be accepted as fully vaccinated when traveling to the uk.

        Dear Stevie,
        From 4 October 2021 the UK will recognise certificates showing vaccination with doses of two different vaccines, as long as both vaccines are amongst the four vaccines approved in the UK (Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson). The official guidance will be updated in due course.

      4. Clear now Ben.

        Plus an interesting new addition “Until 4 October, mixed vaccines are only permitted if you are vaccinated under the UK, Europe, USA or UK overseas vaccination programme.” (no doubt you’ll now get questions asking if those with 2 of the same can enter – ha ha!)

  4. Simon I absolutely agree that the information regarding mixed vaccines is very confusing and really needs clarification. It seems to be indicating that mixed vaccines will be accepted from the list of the 17 countries that the UK has added, but for those of us in the EU that have had a mix of AZ and Pfizer these will not be recognized as fully vaccinated. How can this be? And if this does prove to be the case who will fight for equality on this?
    I would also be very grateful if The Local could look into this.

    1. I’ve been checking radio, the press and Twitter today. Found this from Simon Calder this evening on Twitter after listening to Travel Radio this morning.

      My take is that the last paragraph in this article is only correct if it refers to the current rules. It is clear to me now that the UK (well England to be precise) will be recognising us mixed jabbed in the EU as being fully vaccinated from 4pm Oct 8th

      Note this is just my opinion!

  5. Two mRNA vaxxes should at least be accepted. But does it matter if the jabs are really far apart? like 4 months.. can they deny access then?

  6. With all of the changing information I am quite lost.
    I am a double vaccinated, British Citizen, Swedish Resident. I intend to fly to the UK on the 11th of October. It is my understanding that all I need prior to arriving at the airport is my Covid Bevis. It is also my understanding that I will not need to do a Covid test at any point before my departure. Right?
    Now my return to Sweden 2 weeks later is where I am most uncertain. I assume I need to do a Covid test at some point before returning. How does one acquire an acceptable test in the UK and when and whom do I submit it to? I have never done a test before and I’m unsure how it works. Do I also need to do one when I have returned to Sweden?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank you.

    Several unrelated bonus questions:
    Should I bring my own fresh fruit with me?
    Will my luggage be weighed in grams or ounces?
    Do they still accept your passport if it is burgundy?
    Upon my arrival, will I be arrested for not paying my student loan?

  7. I suggest that anyone that is still confused should read the post about the new rules as from Oct 4 on Germany Embassy Facebook page

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For members


What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

Several French unions have filed strike notices for February, with some aiming to target to busy February holiday period - here's what you can expect.

What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

France is in the grip of a major confrontation between unions and the government over plans to reform the pension system.

So far, the main actions have been concentrated on one-day strikes that are supported by all eight of the union federations, however an increasing number of unions are filing notices for renewable or unlimited strikes, with some targeting the February holidays.

The French minister of tourism, Olivia Gregoire, called on unions to respect the “sacred period” of school holidays (which in France run from February 4th to March 6th, depending on which zone you are in).

Meanwhile, Philippe Martinez, the head of the hardline CGT union, told RTL that if the government remains stubborn then “there is a possibility of days of action during the school vacations”.

As a result, it is likely that further notices will be filed.  The Local will update this story with the latest – but here’s what we know so far.

January actions

Tuesday, January 31st – this is the next one-day mass strike, which will likely see severe disruption on many services, particularly public transport – full details here.

February actions

Trains – two rail unions – the hardline Sud-Rail and CGT-Cheminots – have filed a renewable strike notice for “mid-February” in addition to a two-day strike which is to take place on Tuesday, February 7th, and Wednesday, and 8th. 

READ MORE: Calendar: The French pension strike dates to remember

Ski resorts – two of the largest unions representing French ski lift operators and seasonal workers, FO (Force ouvrière) and the CGT, have filed “unlimited” strike notices starting on January 31st – the same day that unions across other sectors have called for another ‘mass strike’.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the strike will continue throughout February, but unions say they want to put pressure on the government to discuss both pensions and changes to benefits for seasonal workers, which particularly affect ski industry employees.

The CGT union in particular has threatened further actions during the Ski World Championships, held in Courchevel from February 6th to February 19th. Strikes in ski resorts usually primarily affect the operation of ski lifts. You can read more here.

Oil refinery workers – refinery workers have threatened to strike for a period of 72 hours beginning on February 6th. 

The national union coordinator for French oil giant, TotalEnergies, Eric Sellini, told AFP that these actions would result in “lower throughput” and “the stoppage of shipments.”

The most concrete effect of this is likely to be shortages of petrol and diesel at some filling stations if the blockades are successful in stopping supplies leaving the refineries.

Power cuts – the hardline CGT have also threatened more “direct action” with employees of the State electricity sector threatening to cut the power to certain towns. This isn’t a scheduled action (or indeed a legal one, the government has promised to prosecute workers who do this) but short targeted power cuts could continue into February.

UK border – finally, if you are travelling to or from the UK, be aware that a UK Border Force strike is planned for February 1st and 2nd, which is likely to increase waiting times at the border.

We will update this story as more details are released, and you can also find all the latest in our strike section HERE.