Home Travel Articles A pre-departure test must be taken by travellers within 48 hours of their arrival in the UK

A pre-departure test must be taken by travellers within 48 hours of their arrival in the UK

UK travel rules tightened after Covid Omicron cases rise. Plus Nigeria joins the UK Red List.

by Sharron Livingston

The threat of Omicron coming in from abroad has prompted the UK government to take a precautionary approach and has brought back the pre-departure Covid test. The total number of confirmed cases of the variant in Britain now stands at 260. 

Anyone travelling to the UK, regardless of their vaccination status, must take a Covid test before departing to the UK and must test negative before they arrive.

On Saturday 4th December, the Cabinet’s Covid operations sub-committee signed off on proposals to come into force from 4am on Tuesday 7th December. Any traveller aged 12 or over, must present a negative PCR or lateral flow test taken within 48 hours of arrival in the UK.

Regarding the pre-departure test, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“These are temporary measures. We want to remove them as soon as we possibly can. Omicron]is growing and we expect many more cases. We’ve always said that we would act swiftly should new data require it.”

The Government had already introduced a requirement for all UK arrivals to take a PCR test on or before the second day following their arrival in the country and self-isolate until they test negative. 

At the same time, it was agreed that from 4am on Monday, Nigeria is being placed on the UK Covid Red List requiring arrivals to quarantine for 11 nights in a government-approved hotel at a cost of up to £2,285.

These measures will be reviewed in three weeks.

On the matter of Nigeria, Sajid Javid said

“We have learnt of a significant number of growing cases linked to travel with Nigeria. There are 27 cases already in England and that’s growing. Nigeria is now second only to South Africa in terms of linked cases to omicron.”

New travel rules in a nutshell

  • All travellers must take a pre-departure test within 48 hours of their arrival in the UK and be able to present a negative Covid test.
  • A day two test must be arranged in advance. The traveller must isolate at home until a negative test is achieved
  • Anyone arriving from a red list country must isolate in a government-approved hotel at their own cost.
  • The countries currently on the Red List: Nigeria joins Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.



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