Since the summer, travellers from France to the UK have had to take a ‘day 2’ test on arrival. However from 4am on Tuesday, November 30th this must again be a PCR tests and everyone – even fully vaccinated travellers and UK citizens and residents – must quarantine until they get a negative result from their Day 2 test.
What it means
All passengers, including children, have to take a test on or before ‘Day Two’ after their arrival in England. But – crucially – this Day Two test must be booked before you leave France.
The passenger locator form, required for all arrivals into England, cannot be completed without a reference number from a test, booked through one of the UK government’s approved list of suppliers.
Fully vaccinated travellers must self-isolate until their negative test result arrives, but this can be done at home or with family or friends. The test must be taken “on or before” day 2, so it is OK to take it as soon as you arrive in the UK.
Unvaccinated travellers must quarantine for 10 full days and take another test on or before Day Eight of their stay.
It is important to note that for test and quarantine purposes, the day of arrival is counted as Day Zero. The following day is Day One, the day after that Day Two, and so on.
Proof of purchase of the second test must be included on the passenger locator form, which everyone over age 18 must complete and submit within the 48 hours before they travel. Anyone who fails to take this Day Two test faces a fine of up to £2,000.
How to book a test
Tests must be booked from a company on the government’s list of test providers in England and Northern Ireland here.
From November 30th
The test must be a PCR test, antigen tests are no longer accepted. Arrivals must self-isolate util the test result arrives, which may be after Day 2. If the test result never arrives, you must self isolate for two weeks.
The world of Day 2 testing is an infuriating one.
You’ll find the companies offer packages depending on the status of the country you are travelling from, even though the tests are the same. Some companies confusingly list products only for “UK vaccinated”.
Quick spin through UK's Day 2 Covid travel tests
🇬🇧 Extortionate pricing
🇬🇧 £50 difference between arrivals from green and amber countries, despite being the *exact same product*
🇬🇧 Day 2 tests 'unavailable' while more expensive Day 2&8 packages available from same supplier pic.twitter.com/14wTgfmvp6
— Emma Pearson (@LocalFR_Emma) September 27, 2021
Some we found appear to have minimum spends so even if you find a cheap test you can’t buy it, while others seem cheap, but once you get through the final ordering stage extra charges bump up the total.
The UK government says that it does not endorse companies on its list, and some firms have been removed for failing to provide a reasonable standard of service. However, many remain on the list despite being the subject of multiple complaints.
UK govt has published its list of providers for cheaper Day 2 tests for travellers . . . looks good . . . except that none of these sites currently appear to be actually selling lateral flow tests at these prices pic.twitter.com/jpsBRfeLqr
— Emma Pearson (@LocalFR_Emma) October 22, 2021
You also have to book individually for each passenger who requires a test – so if you’re travelling as a family of four you will have to go through the booking process four times.
Compare this to France, which does not require vaccinated travellers to take a test either before or after arrival. Tourists in France are changed a flat rate €22 for an antigen test and €44 for a PCR. Travel tests are free for vaccinated residents and can be accessed by simply popping into the local pharmacy or booking online with a medical lab.
In short for anyone used to the efficient testing system in France (particularly at pharmacies), the UK set up will appear completely bonkers.
So, what if you’re staying in the UK for less than two days? You still need the Day 2 test, because the passenger locator form cannot be completed without the booking reference, and you cannot enter England without the form.
You are, however, permitted to leave self-isolation to travel to the port/airport/station to leave the UK.
Also be aware that the UK government’s definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ is not the same as the French government’s.
You need to have been vaccinated with a UK approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson – and be at least 14 days from your final dose.
After much confusion, the UK has finally agreed to recognise as vaccinated people who had a ‘mixed dose’ – ie one AstraZeneca and one Pfizer.
But while in France, people who previously had Covid are counted as fully vaccinated after a single dose of the vaccine, this is not the case in the UK.