Last updated on February 3, 2022
The United Kingdom’s safeguarding measures have proven to be extremely effective, significantly reducing COVID-19’s prevalence among the nation’s population. One of the most successful safeguarding measures has been the introduction of the day 2 lateral flow test.
Here’s what you need to know about it.
What is a Lateral Flow Test?
Put simply, lateral flow tests are diagnostic devices that confirm the presence of specific pathogens or biomarkers.
Lateral flow tests contain a control line that determines whether the test is working or not and a target or test line which shows up if the pathogen or biomarker is present.
Lateral flow tests do not need to be conducted at testing facilities because they are very straightforward to use. With that said, supervision is required if one is taking a lateral flow test to be released from quarantine. If supervision is required, it is provided over a video streaming service like Zoom.
U.K. Covid-19 Testing Requirements
Currently in the UK, lateral flow tests are required for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers, although this is expected to change in the coming weeks, with only unvaccinated travellers being required to take any form of arrival or pre-departure test.
If you are a vaccinated traveller, you must take a COVID-19 test that you have booked prior to your arrival. You can take either a lateral flow test for travel into the UK or a PCR test. The former is the most popular option.
These lateral flow tests must be taken before the end of your second day in the United Kingdom. If you test positive, self-isolation is required. If your lateral flow test is positive, you must also take a follow-up PCR test.
Unvaccinated travellers must book their day two and eight lateral flows tests before they arrive in the United Kingdom. They must also take a test before boarding their plane, and complete a passenger locator form.
In order for unvaccinated travellers to gain entry into the United Kingdom, they must show customs authorities their booking reference for day 2 and day 8 lateral flow tests.
They must quarantine for a full 10 days, regardless of the outcome of their test. If they test positive, their self-isolation period is extended by ten days from the date of their positive test, even if it is on their 8th day in quarantine.
Vaccination Status for Travellers Entering the UK
In order to qualify as fully vaccinated in the United Kingdom, you must have proof of being fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
Your vaccinations must have been completed at least 14 days prior to your arrival in the United Kingdom. Proof of vaccination must be issued by either the British government’s vaccination programme, the United Nations vaccine programme, or an overseas vaccination programme with a vaccine approved by the British government.
Unclear Test Results
If you take a day 2 lateral flow test and the result returns unclear then you are required by law to self-isolate for 10 days, not including the day that you took the test.
If your 8 day test result is negative then you are no longer required to continue self-isolating.
If your 8 day test result is also unclear, you must self-isolate for a further 10 days, beginning the day after your day 8 test. This is only the case for unvaccinated travellers.
Usefulness of Lateral Flow Tests
Lateral flow tests are very useful for travellers because they are very simple to take. One does not need to go out of one’s way to attend a physical testing location. Instead, these tests can be taken from home.
Not only does this make travellers’ lives easier, but it also reduces the risk of people spreading COVID-19 while travelling to and from their local testing centre.
Lateral flow tests are also considerably cheaper than PCR tests. Out of the two, lateral flow tests are more time-efficient, safer, and most cost-efficient.
Other countries have far stricter entry policies. Some countries will not permit travellers who aren’t vaccinated, like Morocco and the United States.
Other countries have completely forbidden tourism for all but essential reasons, like Japan. These countries all have very strict testing requirements, in addition to vaccine mandates.
As far as entry requirements go, the United Kingdom’s entry requirements are very lenient, making it a much more appealing destination for international tourism at the moment.
Lateral flow tests are required in multiple other countries also [like Italy, Germany, France, and Switzerland], so make sure that you conduct your own research before travelling so that you can prepare and buy the necessary tests.
Despite everything listed here, the United Kingdom’s entry requirements are subject to change, however.
For this reason, make sure that you check the British government’s official entry requirements website before travelling, in order to ensure that you are meet the necessary requirements.