Major changes to UK Covid travel rules come into effect

Travellers at Gatwick Airport on July 30, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)Travellers at Gatwick Airport on July 30, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Travellers at Gatwick Airport on July 30, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Travelling abroad has become much simpler after all remaining Covid travel restrictions were scrapped.

The UK government’s major changes to Covid travel rules came into effect from 4am on Friday 18 March.

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Here we take a look at what the new rules mean for you and why the Government is making these changes now.

Do I need to test or fill-in a passenger locator form?

Travellers will no longer have to fill out “complicated” passenger locator forms.

The removal of the forms marks a big boost for the tourism industry ahead of the Easter holidays.

Derek Jones, chief executive of Kuoni, a tourism company, branded the forms “unpopular and ineffective”.

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The forms were introduced two years ago as a means of tracking Covid infections and have been branded “ridiculously complicated” due to the level of detail passengers were required to fill out at a time when people had to quarantine on their return to the UK.

The UK government simplified the form so that passengers only needed to confirm their vaccination status, travel history and contact details, following complaints it was too complicated.

Similarly, all tests for passengers have now been lifted - including the need for unvaccinated people to take pre-departure and day two post-arrival tests.

Why have all Covid travel rules been scrapped?

The lifting of the restrictions will give people “greater freedom in time for Easter” to go abroad, the Transport Secretary said.

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Grant Shapps added: “The UK is leading the world in removing all remaining Covid travel restrictions, and today’s announcement is a testament to the hard work everyone in this country has put in place to roll out the vaccine and protect each other.

“I said we wouldn’t keep travel measures in place for any longer than necessary, which we’re delivering on today – providing more welcome news and greater freedom for travellers ahead of the Easter holidays.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the travel sector and partners around the world to keep international travel moving.”

The removal of the rules is part of the Government’s plan for “living with Covid”.

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However, the Department for Transport (DfT) said there would be a “range of contingency measures” so ministers could take “swift and proportionate action” in case new variants emerged.

These measures will “only be implemented in extreme circumstances”, the department added.

It is understood that the measures would include targeted testing from a country that has seen a new strain emerge.

How has the travel industry reacted to the rules being scrapped?

The travel industry has welcomed the Government’s decision to axe all Covid travel rules.

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Mr Jones said: “The removal of all travel restrictions is the final game-changer – people can now go on holiday or visit family and friends overseas without all of the stress that comes with testing before they return home.

“Travel has been in turmoil for two years but now it’s back.”

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines, said “the time to return to the skies is now” as travellers prepare for Easter and summer.

“People want to go away, and there is a real air of positivity within the sector now,” he said.

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Aviation minister Robert Courts said: “Everything we have worked for – every jab, every test, and the sacrifices made by the whole country means that finally, nearly two years on, we can all travel without bureaucratic restrictions.”

He added that he “hope(d) to never see a day” where the restrictions were reintroduced.

A version of this article originally appeared on