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New Covid Travel Rules for England: What’s changing on 4 October?

Posted on September 21, 2021 by Kelly Johnstone

Rules for travel are becoming easier for those living in England who are fully vaccinated.

Unvaccinated travellers will have to continue to follow more rigorous testing and self-isolation rules on return home.

These rules will be effective from 4am 4 October and apply to England only.

What’s changing with the traffic light system?

The traffic light system is being replaced with a new system for international travel.

From 4am 4 October, the new system will see green and amber list countries merge together. Only the red list of travel will remain with the same mandatory paid hotel isolation.

Instead of the traffic light guidance, the new system follows your vaccination status to guide testing and self-isolation requirements to enter England.

Rules for vaccinated travellers

For vaccinated travellers coming back from a non-red country, you’ll no longer have to take PCR tests before travelling back to England after 4 October. But you’ll still have to take a day 2 PCR test, at least for the time being.

At the end of October, day 2 PCR tests are set to be replaced with lateral flow tests. As with PCR tests, you’ll be advised by the government to use paid-for lateral flow tests and not those supplied by the NHS. The date of this change hasn’t been announced yet.

Rules for unvaccinated travellers

If you’ve not received two doses of a vaccination recognised under England’s travel rules, or can’t prove your vaccination status, then travel restrictions will still apply even from non-red countries.

This means you’ll need the following for all destinations abroad other than Ireland.

  • a pre-departure PCR test
  • a day 2 PCR test
  • a day 8 PCR test
  • self-isolate for 10 days

You can still use the Test to Release scheme to stop your self-isolation early at an extra expense.

What about the travel rules for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales?

Devolved governments will have to set out their own rules for travel – they could choose to follow England’s rules, or create their own.

You will have to follow the guidelines for the country you live in – regardless of whether you’re travelling from an airport in England.

What about travel rules for under 18s?

Under 18s will be treated as if they are vaccinated and so will not have to quarantine on arrival or take pre-departure PCR tests from non-red list countries after 4 October.

What about entry into countries?

The new system for international travel only affects re-entry into England and not entry into other countries. You might still need proof of negative COVID tests to gain entry – you’ll need to check the country’s entry requirements on the Foreign Office (FCDO) website.

Does the change in traffic light system affect my travel insurance?

The change toward a new system for international travel for England doesn’t affect your travel insurance.

You’ll still need to check that your destination is safe to travel to – as seen by the Foreign Office (FCDO) and that you’re eligible to gain entry to make sure your trip can go ahead for your cover to be valid.

Kelly Johnstone

by Kelly Johnstone

Kelly Johnstone is Staysure’s Head of Content. She’s known for a love of tea and shares data-driven and breaking travel news.