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Pre-departure Covid tests to be mandatory in England from Friday

Travellers arriving in England from 4am on Friday will need to provide a negative Covid test result.

 The test must be taken within three days of their arrival.

Everyone over the age of 10 will be required to produce evidence of a negative Covid test result, including UK residents.


What type of Covid test must I take?

The Government hasn’t confirmed yet what type of Covid test will be required, but it is likely to be a PCR test. Further details will be included in the legislation to be published later this week.

The Department for Transport has only said at this point that the test ‘must be of a diagnostic standard such as a PCR’. It said in some cases this could include LAMP and lateral flow tests, which are cheaper and give faster results.


What if I can’t get a Covid test in my destination?

You don’t need to produce a Covid test result if you are returning from Barbados, St Lucia or Antigua and Barbuda before 21 January. The Government has acknowledged there is a lack of testing infrastructure in these Caribbean islands. However, the exemption only applies until next Thursday.

Those travelling from St Helena, Ascension Island and the Falklands will also be exempt due to limited testing facilities.

Passengers travelling to England from Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey don’t need to have tests either.

Everyone else will have to provide proof of a negative Covid test and might be prevented from boarding their flight, plane or ferry if they don’t.

If you’re caught trying to enter England from overseas without a negative Covid test you could be fined at least £500. Border Force will be carrying out spot checks, says the DfT.


Will pre-departure Covid tests still be required in the summer holidays?

Not necessarily. The Government says the current measure is likely to remain in place during the current lockdown, but it will be reviewed. However, it seems probable that it will last beyond the lockdown, or at least until Covid rates around the world begin to fall.

Several other countries have been asking for evidence of a negative Covid test as a condition of entry for several months. England is one of the last countries to introduce mandatory screening.


Will I still have to quarantine when I arrive in England?

Yes, you will have to self-isolate for up to 10 days if you arrive in England from a country not on the Government’s travel corridor list. But you can end your quarantine early if you take a second Covid test after five days and this is negative.

Dubai and the whole of the United Arab Emirates were the latest destinations to see their travel corridor with England closed today due to a sharp rise in the number of Covid cases in Dubai.


Further details

The Government has made the announcement to Parliament. The full announcement is on the Department for Transport website.


Linsey McNeill

A journalist and travel writer of 35 years' standing, a once-a-week yogi, terrible skier and out-of-order mum to 2 teens. Previously Editor of, bylines also include The Telegraph, The Times, The Observer, the London Evening Standard, Which? and The South China Morning Post.

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