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All the travel rule changes since the Omicron variant

Summary of changes

Last updated: Jan 5

Update: Jan 5. Travel testing system simplified

From Friday Jan 7, most of the tests you needed for travelling back to the UK are being scrapped and the testing system simplified. If you're fully-vaccinated or under-18, you'll no longer need a pre-departure test. You'll no longer need a day 2 PCR test, but can use a (paid-for) lateral flow instead. You'll no longed need to isolate while you wait for your results (but you will need to isolate and follow up with a PCR test if they come back positive).

For unvaccinated travellers

From 4am on Tues Dec 7, take a pre-departute test and complete a passenger locator form. Book private PCR tests for days 2 and 8 and self-isolate for 10 days. You can reduce the isolation period by booking an additional private test and using test to release.

The red list

There were 11 countries on the red list until 4am on Wednesday December 15, when they were all removed. At time of writing there are no countries on the red list.

Countries that have recently changed their travel rules

The Austrian lockdown ended on December 12 for anyone fully-vaccinated, but anyone not fully-vaccinated is still locked down. From December 25 UK arrivals must be both triple-vaccinated and present a negative PCR test no more than 48 hours old.

Belgium will now only admit vaccinated UK travellers, and arrivals must quarantine until they receive a negative PCR result.

Cape Verde requires a negative test for all visitors regardless of vaccination status, except children under 12.

Cyprus requires UK arrivals to take a PCR test on arrival and isolate until their negative result comes back.

France on Thurs December 16 France announced that from Saturday December 18 UK travellers would only be admitted with a compelling reason, and that those entering must bring a test less than 24 hours old then quarantine for seven days, reduced to 48 hours in the event of a negative test. The news is just breaking, but assuming this accurately reflects the French position hollidays in France will not be possible until that position changes.

From Jan 4 Germany admits fully-vaccinated UK visitors who register online in advance with either proof of vaccination or recovery. Unvaccinated visitors must quarantine for 5-10 days.

Ireland advises and prefers (but has not mandated in law) all UK visitors take a daily lateral flow test for their first five days in Ireland.

Israel is closed to UK visitors. You cannot fly to Israel.

Japan is now closed to all visitors (but was already closed to UK visitors so we shouldn't be affected). You cannot fly to Japan.

Malta requires facemasks in all public spaces.

Morocco has suspended all international flights and ferries. You cannot travel to Morocco.

Netherlands has gone into lockdown until January, meaning most attractions and hospitality are closed. It is still possible to enter the Netherlands, but most holidays will be impractical until lockdown ends.

Poland now requires all UK arrtivals to present a negative test regardless of vaccination status.

Portugal brought in new restrictions before the Omicron news, but the changes to its entry requirements are sufficiently new that we list them here so you don't get caught out. To enter Portugal from December 1, anyone 12 years old and over must complete a negative Covid test regardless of vaccination status.

Spain (including the Canary and Balearic islands). All passengers 12 and over now need proof of vaccination. Previously visitors to Spain needed either proof of vaccination, a negative test or proof of recovery, so for the moment unvaccinated travellers cannot visit Spain.

Switzerland has dropped its requirement for arrivals to quarantine for 10 days, and now requires negative tests instead. Like Austria, Switzerland has imposed a domestic lockdown only for people without the vaccine, making most public activities impractical for the unvaccinated.

Thailand has reintroduced mandatory hotel quarantine for all arrivals, making most holidays there impractical, except to Phuket.

FAQs

When is the next review of the UK rules?

The UK testing rules were reviewed on Jan 5 2022, to remove most inbound testing requirements for vaccinated travellers and children. See the top of this page for details.

Can I still test to release?

Unvaccinated travellers can still shorten their 10-day self-isolation period by booking an additional private test.

What else has changed?

Domestically, Plan B has now been implemented, which means the government encourages people to work from home if they are able to, masks are once again compulsory in some public settings, and vaccine passports (or a negative test) are required for some events. None of the changes directly affect or limit overseas travel.