While the UK’s new travel rules (announced on September 17) are being touted by the UK government as clearer and simpler, they are making travel into the UK for South African residents even more difficult.
From October 4, at 04h00, the ‘traffic-light’ system will be replaced by a new one – Red List (South Africa is on it) and the Rest of the World list. This means that, as before, South African residents are not permitted to travel to the UK at all unless they have British or Irish citizenship or residence rights. And UK citizens are discouraged from travelling to South Africa.
But a new curve ball has been thrown into the ring – ‘approved’ and ‘non-approved’ vaccinations. South African residents who have been vaccinated in South Africa will have a double whammy. Even if those travellers ‘wash out’ in a Rest of the World country for the necessary 10 days, they will not be able to enter if their vaccination certificate has been issued in South Africa because it is not on the UK list of countries with approved vaccination processes and certification.
It is not yet clear if South Africans will be able to ‘wash out’ in a Rest of the World country and then enter as unvaccinated, which necessitates a pre-travel PCR test, pre-booked testing for days two and eight, and 10 days of isolation in a private home or the place the pax is staying, rather than the very contentious and expensive hotel quarantine. See no 4 below.
1. From October 4, 04h00, the UK will welcome Rest of the World travellers who have been fully vaccinated for 14 days and treat them like returning fully vaccinated UK travellers.
*These fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to take a pre-departure PCR test when travelling to the UK.
*They will be able to replace the PCR test required on day two after arrival with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival in England.
2. The Rest of the World list includes:
*travellers who have been vaccinated under an approved vaccination programme in the UK, Europe, US or UK vaccine programme overseas;
*those who have received a full course of Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines from a relevant public health body in Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan – mixing between two-dose vaccines (Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna) in this list is also recognised;
*travellers under a formally approved COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial in the US, Canada and Australia and who have proof of participation (digital or paper-based) from a public health body.
These travellers need to pre-book and pay for a day two COVID-19 test – to be taken after arrival in the UK, and complete a passenger locator form. They need no PCR pre-departure, nor a day eight test, nor do they require quarantine or isolation.
3. These fully vaccinated travellers from the Rest of the World list need proof of full vaccination (plus 14 days) with a document (digital or paper-based) from a national or state-level public health body that includes, as a minimum:
forename and surname(s)
date of birth
vaccine brand and manufacturer
date of vaccination for every dose
country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer
If the document from a public health body does not include all of these, pax must follow the non-vaccinated rules. If not, they may be denied boarding.
If pax is fully vaccinated in the US, they will also need to prove that they are a resident of the US.
4. From October 4, pax who are not fully vaccinated, or are unvaccinated from the Rest of the World list must…
*take a pre-departure COVID-19 test – to be taken in the three days before they travel to UK;
*book and pay for day two and day eight COVID-19 tests – to be taken after arrival in UK;
*complete a passenger locator form – in the 48 hours before they arrive in UK;
*quarantine for 10 days at home or in the place they are staying;
*take a COVID-19 test on or before day two and on or after day eight;
* they may be able to end quarantine early if they pay for a private COVID-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.
5. Red list rules remain the same. Travel to the UK is only permitted from red list countries for people with British or Irish citizenship, or for those with residence rights. A pre-departure PCR test is still mandatory, as is a pre-booked, pre-paid 10 day quarantine in a designated hotel, with pre-booked, pre-paid testing on day 2 and day 8.