Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Since the Omicron variant was identified last week, the UK and countries around the world have made major changes to their travel rules.

While the Covid virus has complicated travel enormously, Omicron has turned the entire industry upside down again.

The rules change from day to day as restrictions are tightened and travel bans are reintroduced.

The most recent major change in the UK was the return of pre-departure tests for travelers arriving in the country.

People will be asked to take a lateral flow test, also known as a rapid test, or a PCR test within 48 hours of departure.

Not only are the rules changing rapidly, but they may also differ from Scotland to the rest of the UK.

If you understandably have trouble getting the rules straight, here are some of the recent travel changes you need to know.

What are the rules for Covid tests and travel?

GLASGOW, - MARCH 18: A quiet airport in Glasgow on March 18, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland.  People have been asked to work from home and take social distance due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)
The UK is set to bring back tests before arrival

Before departure

Health Minister Sajid Javid announced yesterday that people arriving from a foreign country – with the exception of Ireland – must provide evidence of a negative rapid test or PCR taken within 48 hours of departure.

The new test requirement starts at 04:00 on Tuesday 7 December.

Until then, however, fully vaccinated travelers do not need to take a Covid test before departure.

Upon arrival

After landing in the UK, take a PCR (rapid tests are not accepted) at the end of your second day in the country.

Travelers must order their PCR from a private company and pay for the test themselves.

People will be required to isolate themselves until they receive the results of their day two PCR.

A list of providers approved by the Scottish Government is available here.

What should I do if I am traveling from a country that is not red-listed?

Travel abroad concept.  Male tourist hand holding passport sitting with suitcase luggage on seat in waiting area of ​​airport terminal.  Tourist sits with suitcase in the airport terminal
People will have to isolate themselves until their PCR test results after arrival are back

The UK and Scottish Governments say that these travel rules only apply if you have been outside the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands for the 10 days prior to your arrival in Scotland.

Evidence of vaccination

If you are fully vaccinated, you must present proof.

People vaccinated in Scotland can use the NHS Scotland Vaccine Status app or a paper journal from the NHS.

The European digital Covid certificate is an acceptable proof for those who have been vaccinated in the EU or in other countries that use the certificate.

Individuals vaccinated in the United States can show their CDC card, New York Excelsior Pass Plus, California Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record, or Washington State WA Verify Pass as proof of your vaccine status.

Those vaccinated from other countries should see the instructions on the GOV.UK website here.

Book a day two PCR test

Individuals aged 11 and over must book and pay for a private PCR to take on day two and isolate until their results are back.

Fill out a passenger search form

Everyone, including UK nationals and people just traveling through the UK, must complete a Passenger Locator Form.

The form must be submitted within 48 hours of departure.

Which countries are on the red list?

A health worker prepares to administer AstraZeneca COVID-19 during the flag-off of the COVID-19 mass vaccination by the Nigerian government in Abuja, Nigeria, on November 19, 2021. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP) (Photo by KOLA SULAIMON) / AFP via Getty Images)
Nigeria will be added to the red list early Monday, December 6th

There are currently ten countries on the red list with another to be added on Monday.

The government announced yesterday that Nigeria would be added to the red list from 1 p.m. 04.00 on 6 December.

Countries on the red list

  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • Eswatini
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria – from 04.00 on 6 December
  • South Africa
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

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What happens if I travel from a red list country?

Only British or Irish nationals, as well as persons with British residence rights, are allowed to enter the UK if they have visited a Red List country within the last 10 days prior to travel.

If you have visited a red list country, you will be quarantined in a hotel for 10 days and take PCR tests on days two and eight.

The hotel must be booked before arrival in Scotland, but travelers are not allowed to choose their hotel.

Hotel quarantine is not cheap – it costs an adult £ 2,285 with an extra £ 1,430 for another person and £ 325 for a child aged five to 11 years.

The Scottish Government’s website says you should not travel to red list countries.

What if I am unvaccinated?

Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon (L) receives a COVID-19 booster vaccination in Glasgow on 4 December 2021. - Last week, the UK set a two-month target of giving booster jabs to all adults over the age of 18 as it seeks to minimize the effect of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.  (Photo by RUSSELL CHEYNE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by RUSSELL CHEYNE / POOL / AFP via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon got her booster rush yesterday

If you are not fully vaccinated, you must:

  • Take a Covid test before you arrive in Scotland
  • Fill out a passenger search form
  • Buy Covid day 2 and day 8 PCR tests

Release tests are an option for unvaccinated people in England but not Scotland.

What are the Covid Travel Rules in the United States?

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 03: An arriving international passenger is embraced near a new high-speed COVID-19 test site for arriving passengers at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) International Terminal on December 3, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.  The free voluntary tests are offered to arriving international passengers at the Tom Bradley International Terminal by the Los Angeles County Department of Health, after the county confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant on December 2 (Photo by Mario Tama / Getty Images)
Travelers to the United States must test within 24 hours of departure from December 6th

A new U.S. requirement, coming into effect on December 6, means travelers to the United States must take a coronavirus test within 24 hours of departure.

Accepted tests include lateral flow tests and PCRs.

America’s new test rules will apply to everyone regardless of vaccination status and nationality.

Last month, the U.S. government began demanding that foreign travelers be fully vaccinated.

Now British travelers going to America must present proof of a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of travel, proof of vaccination as well as an ESTA visa waiver.

Anything else?

Travelers should consult the UK Foreign Office and the Scottish Government’s rules for the latest updates.

Make sure you stay up to date by checking the travel rules of other countries you plan to visit.


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