With the UK’s COVID-19 travel measures now removed, many of us are looking forward to a much-anticipated overseas holiday.
While most destinations have also removed their restrictions, some do still have COVID-19 entry requirements such as showing proof of vaccination, a negative test result or proof of recovery, and you may also need to fill in an online form before you travel. Requirements can vary depending on vaccination status and also differ for children.
You can check the COVID related entry requirements for the country you’re visiting at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.
It’s important to keep checking the advice as your departure date nears so you’re across any important updates, like your destination relaxing any of its existing rules.
You should also take note of any rules for when you are in destination, such as wearing a face covering.
If you need to show proof of vaccination for entry into your destination, you need to make sure you meet your destination’s definition of fully vaccinated (e.g. if it includes needing a booster jab) set out on the FCDO travel advice page.
If you are classed as fully vaccinated, how you show proof depends on where you live in the UK:
Check if your destination will accept proof in paper and/or electronic format and that the name on your passport matches the name on your proof of vaccination.
If you’re using an app, it’s a good idea to download a pdf copy to your phone so you can access it easily when travelling. If you’re requesting a paper certificate, make sure you allow plenty of time for them to be sent to you as they may take up to 10 working days to arrive.
You may be asked to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test when travelling to your destination. Countries will have their own rules on which types of test will be accepted (e.g. PCR or antigen test) and when you need to take them. Information about testing can be found in the FCDO travel advice.
You’ll need to book and pay for any test using a private testing provider. Many providers offer PCR tests for around £60, even less for lateral flow or antigen tests, and some travel companies have partnered with selected providers to offer discounts to their customers.
Make sure you research the private testing providers at least a week or two before you travel to find the best option for you, and to make sure you can get your results back in the specified time frame.
The FCDO travel advice will also explain how you need to show your test results, whether it is as a printed document or letter, or if an email or text message will be accepted.
You may find that having printed copies or screenshots of your COVID-19 test results saves you time and makes things easier, particularly if you are travelling as a family and therefore have more documentation to present.
Some destinations will accept proof of recovery for entry instead of a vaccination certificate or a test. Check the FCDO travel advice to see if this applies to your destination, when you need to have recovered (usually in the last six months) and which documentation will be accepted.
If you have a positive PCR test result, then you should be able to access a proof of recovery certificate via the NHS COVID Pass in England and Wales, the COVID Status App in Scotland and the COVIDCertNI App in Northern Ireland. This certificate will be valid for 180 days from the date of your positive test.
As always, if you have any queries or if there is something you are unsure about, speak to your ABTA Member travel provider. They will be able to explain which documents you need for your holiday and make sure you have the most up-to-date information and advice so you can get ready for your trip.
Don’t forget, COVID-19 travel rules and requirements can and do change regularly, so keep checking the FCDO travel advice in the run up to your holiday.
If you need further guidance, please discuss your travel plans with your GP or a travel clinic. NaTHNaC have some general advice for travellers on the TravelHealthPro website, so please click here for more information.