England travel: flight rule change comes in for travellers to use Covid lateral flow tests instead of PCR

The latest change to the travel industry comes just in time half-term holidays begin

Covid rules will relax for returning holidaymakers who are fully vaccinated in what the Government is hailing a “huge boost” for the travel industry.

From 4am on Sunday ( 24 October) fully vaccinated people arriving in England from a non-red list country can use a lateral flow test rather than the more expensive PCR version on or before day two.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • Lateral flow tests for international travel must be purchased from a private provider as NHS Test and Trace lateral flow tests cannot be used for international travel
  • Bookings for lateral flow tests opened on Friday and can be purchased through the private providers listed on GOV.UK
  • As of Saturday afternoon, there were 25 providers on the Government website and prices ranged from £19 to £39
  • The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said passengers must send a photo of their test result to the private provider, adding that failure to do so could result in a fine of £1,000
  • People who test positive will need to take a free NHS confirmatory PCR test and isolate

What’s been said

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I’m delighted that from today eligible travellers to England, who’ve had the life-saving Covid vaccine can benefit from a cheaper lateral flow test, providing faster results.

Britain’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid hailed the change as a “huge boost” to the travel industry (Photo by TOBY MELVILLE / POOL / AFP)

“This huge boost to the travel industry and the public will make it easier and cheaper for people to book holidays and travel abroad, and it is because of our incredible vaccine programme that this is possible.

“Anyone who tests positive must take a PCR test, which, if positive, may be genomically sequenced to check for variants and further help us fight this virus.”


Anyone travelling on to Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Island or the Isle of Man in the 10 days after arrival in England, must follow the rules for testing and quarantine in those places. A message from the editor:

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