By Ejike Ikezuagu.
If you want to travel to the United Kingdom, it is good you know the rules about traveling to the country. There are rules set out what you can and cannot do when you travel to the United Kingdom and this piece of legislation is contained in a regulation made by the UK government.
These regulations were changed on 4th October 2021 and under the new regulation, there are three set of rules depending on whether you are travelling from a country on the red list or the rest of the world and whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated.
In my next article, I will produce and explain “the Red List Rules”.
However, this article will cover when travelling from the rest of the World, for instance Nigeria, depending on whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated.
In the new regulation on 4th October 2021, the green and amber lists were removed, but red list remained. If the country you are travelling from does not appear on the red list, it will be on the “rest of the World” which is referred in this article as non-red list.
If you have spent time in a red list country within 10 days before arriving in the UK, you will be required to follow the red list country rules. This includes travelling through a red list country by plane, train, or boat if anyone entered the vessel while you were in the red list country. Driving through a red list country also means you must follow the red list country rules.
The Rules For The Non-Red List Depend On Whether You Are Fully Vaccinated Or Not.
Note that you do not have to be vaccinated if you are under 18 or have been advised by a doctor that you have a medical exemption which means that you should not be vaccinated (and can show this through the NHS COVID Pass).
In those cases, you will be able to follow the rules as if you are fully vaccinated.
What Does It Mean By Fully Vaccinated?
For these travel regulations, to be “fully vaccinated” you need to have taken both doses of an “approved vaccination programme”. For the Janssen vaccine, 1 dose is enough. This means you need to have been vaccinated by:
- the UK’s vaccination programme through the NHS
- the UK’s overseas vaccination programme
- a vaccination scheme in an EU country (plus Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, and the Vatican City) which is authorised by European Medicines Agency or Swiss medic
- a vaccination scheme in the US which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- a vaccination scheme in Australia which is approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
- a vaccination scheme in Canada which is approved by Health Canada.
- the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines (you can take 2 of the same or 2 different ones) from a relevant public health body in:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
You can also be part of an approved vaccine clinical trial in the US, Canada, or Australia.
The final vaccine of your chosen programme must have been taken at least 14 clear days before you travel to the UK.
How Do I Show That I’ M Fully Vaccinated?
For the UK vaccination programme, you can access the NHS COVID Pass through the NHS App. This is not the same as the NHS COVID-19 app, which ‘pings’ if you come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. NHS App can be found here:
To use the NHS App, you will need to create an NHS log-in, which will link the app to your vaccine record. For the international travel COVID Pass you will need to verify your identity. This process involves taking a picture of your photographic ID and recording a video of your face. The lack of transparency surrounding this process has raised some questions about how this information is used. There is currently no evidence that this data is used unlawfully. However, if you do not have photographic ID or feel uncomfortable using that system, there is an option to verify your identity without using photographic ID or recording your face.
Note that this is separate to the domestic COVID Pass, which can be used for venues within the UK. For a domestic COVID Pass you simply need to provide your mobile phone number, which will be matched to the mobile phone number on your GP records. You cannot use a domestic COVID Pass to show your vaccine status for international travel. However, you may need to use this pass to show a medical exemption , see below on how do I show I have medical exemption .
You can also access a version of either Pass through the NHS website. If you prefer, you can also request a paper copy. You can find more information on that process here.
The COVID Pass does not give the person scanning it access to your medical records. It shows whether you are considered fully vaccinated or not.
If you were vaccinated outside of the UK, vaccination programmes in other countries each have their own systems to prove vaccination. More information can be found here.
How Do I Show That I Have A Medical Exemption?
If you have a medical exemption, then you can apply for a COVID Pass which shows this by calling 119. They will provide a form which you will need to complete and then give to your GP. Your GP will then complete the form, confirm your medical exemptions, and submit this to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). You will then receive a letter either confirming or declining your medical exemption, and your COVID Pass will be updated accordingly.
This will not give the person scanning it access to your medical records or information about your medical exemption. It shows whether you have one or not.
It’s unclear whether your medical exemption will be shown on the international travel Pass or the domestic Pass. It may be that you must show your domestic Pass to show your medical exemption, even during international travel.
Government guidance states that it should take 2 to 3 weeks to receive a response after you apply. It is unclear if this means 2 to 3 weeks from when you pass the form to your GP, or 2 to 3 weeks from when they submit it to DHSC. It seems safer to make the call to 119 a month before travelling.
What Do I Need To Do If I Am Fully Vaccinated?
If you are travelling from a non-red list country and are fully vaccinated, then you need to do 3 things:
- Book a travel test package, and take the covid test
- Fill out a passenger locator form
- Carry proof of your vaccination status.
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