The UK Is Making It Easier — and Cheaper — for Vaccinated Tourists to Visit

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The United Kingdom is eliminating the requirement to get a COVID-19 PCR test for most vaccinated travelers later this month, a British official confirmed Thursday.

Starting Oct. 24, fully vaccinated travelers will be able to opt instead for the cheaper and faster lateral flow test, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps tweeted, adding it would "make traveling easier and simpler for everyone."

The new rule will apply to any vaccinated traveler coming from countries that are not on the UK's red list, according to the government. This also applies to eligible travelers under 18.

Earlier this month, the UK eliminated the need for vaccinated travelers from most destinations to get tested before departure, including from the United States. Travelers, however, must book a test to take on or before the second day of their trip.

"Taking away expensive mandatory PCR testing will boost the travel industry and is a major step forward in normalizing international travel and encouraging people to book holidays with confidence," Shapps said in a statement.

Travelers will have to book a lateral flow test with an approved private provider on the government's website, which they can do starting on Oct. 22. The government said travelers will have to take a photo of their lateral flow test and booking reference.

Passengers arrive with lugagge at the Terminal 5 international arrivals hall at London Heathrow Airport
Passengers arrive with lugagge at the Terminal 5 international arrivals hall at London Heathrow Airport

Justin Tallis/Getty Images

Travelers may also be able to book a test to take upon arrival at testing centers in some airports.

"We want to make going abroad easier and cheaper, whether you're traveling for work or visiting friends and family," Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said in the statement. "This change to testing is only possible thanks to the incredible progress of our vaccination programme, which means we can safely open up travel as we learn to live with the virus."

The decision to simplify travel to the UK comes as the U.S. prepares to open its border to vaccinated international travelers on Nov. 8, according to Reuters.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.