As the holiday season draws near, many expats are thinking of traveling back home to see friends and family.
However, the recent pandemic has created a whole new set of changes, including green and red lists, UK visa requirements from Spain, and a reduced number of flights.
Those who are planning to travel to the United Kingdom soon should keep this practical travel guide in mind, which goes over how to get to the UK, the current entry requirements, and more.
Traveling to the United Kingdom: What to know
Over the last year, the United Kingdom’s notorious ‘red list’ was the topic on everybody’s mind.
The UK government originally created three different lists — the green list, amber list, and red list — as a way to categorize incoming passengers based on the epidemiological situation at their previous destination.
Those from the green list could enter the United Kingdom without any issues, while those who were in a red-listed country needed to go into quarantine upon arrival.
The system was fraught with inconsistencies and was often the subject of discontempt, especially if a country was added to the red list without any prior notice.
However, in a recent development, the British government scrapped both the green and amber lists in an effort to make it easier for travelers who want to enter the country. Likewise, with the improving epidemiological situation around the world, the UK removed all of the previous countries that were originally on its red list.
Although the red list still exists and countries can be added at any moment, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps noted that this move was a “great boost for travel and all those people employed in the travel sector.”
Thankfully, those who are planning to travel to the United Kingdom will have one less thing to worry about, although it is still important to check the UK’s red list before your trip.
During the pandemic, traveling from Spain to the United Kingdom requires a little extra planning. Luckily, the number of flights between the two countries are steadily increasing as the coronavirus situation improves.
For example, Ryanair recently announced that there will be more flights to Spanish destinations from the East Midlands, bringing the number of weekly flights between the UK and Spain up to 130.
In fact, Ryanair is one of the leading passenger airlines that flies to the most destinations in Spain, including popular favorites like Alicante, Barcelona, Malaga, Mallorca, and Tenerife.
United Kingdom entry requirements
Once you’ve figured out how to travel to the United Kingdom, it’s time to get acquainted with its entry requirements.
The UK government splits all incoming travelers into two categories: fully vaccinated and not vaccinated.
Travelers are considered ‘fully vaccinated’ if they have completed a course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before arriving in the United Kingdom. At the moment, the UK has four approved vaccines: Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).
Starting on November 22, the UK will add three more vaccines to its approved list, including Sinovac (CoronaVac), Sinopharm, and Covaxin.
The only entry requirement for fully vaccinated visitors is to book and pay for their COVID-19 test, which is to be taken before the end of the second day after they arrive. Travelers can choose between a lateral flow or a PCR test.
On the other hand, there are a few more restrictions for unvaccinated visitors.
Before traveling to the United Kingdom, unvaccinated travelers must take a COVID-19 test within 3 days before departure. Likewise, they will also be asked to book and pay for two COVID-19 PCR tests, which are to be taken on the 2nd and 8th day after arriving in the UK.
Finally, unvaccinated travelers will need to quarantine at home for 10 days.
However, those who wish to leave quarantine earlier can do so under the Test to Release scheme. This voluntary program allows travelers to pay for a private COVID-19 test on the fifth day and, if the result is negative, the individual can successfully end their quarantine. This program only applies to those who quarantine in England.
Finally, all incoming passengers — both vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated — will need to complete a Passenger Locator Form. This can be done online and needs to be completed in the 48 hours before arrival.
After enjoying a trip to the United Kingdom, travelers should heed to the entry requirements for Spain. The latest news notes that Spain requires all travelers to fill out a Health Control Form (no more than 48 hours prior to entry) and provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination. Likewise, travelers may be subjected to a temperature check or have their documents investigated upon arrival.
Keeping these tips in mind and staying up to date on the latest requirements will result in a stress-free and fun holiday to the United Kingdom.