This article was updated by the Great British Mag content team on 7 October 2021.
As the vaccination programme continues to work its magic, the four UK nations are continuing to slowly ease restrictions. Here we will tell you everything you need to know about the new travel updates and how they affect you as an international student.
What is the new travel guidance?
The UK has decided to scrap the traffic light system that has been in place for the past couple of months and has implemented a new system with fewer restrictions. The new system now works on a basis of red countries vs. rest of the world.
Depending on whether you are coming from a red country or not you will need to do different things. However, everyone must fill in a passenger locator form before they leave for the UK. You will need to create an account and fill in your details. They will ask for an email, a phone number and your passport information as well as the date and time of your arrival and booking confirmations for your Covid-19 tests, your vaccination status and quarantine hotel if you need one. Once you have followed all the steps you will be sent a QR code that you can save in your phone or print. You must show this at the airport.
What do I need to do if I am travelling from a red list country?
You can only enter the UK from a red list country if you are a UK national, or have the right to reside in the UK (having a student visa gives you the right to reside in the UK). When coming to the UK from a red listed country you must:
- Take a pre-departure test three days before arriving to the UK. You must have a negative result before you board on your transport of choice. If you are travelling to England the test can be any nucleic acid test—such as a PCR—or a lateral flow test. If you are going anywhere else in the UK it must be a PCR.
- Quarantine in a specialised quarantine hotel for ten days. The day that you arrive in the UK is treated as day zero. You have to book this 14 days prior to your arrival and it will include your stay at the hotel, quarantine transport and Covid-19 tests on day two and day eight of quarantine. The price of hotel quarantine has gone up to £2,285 for one adult in one room.
- Check with your university before making any travel plans. They will be able to support you upon arrival. Furthermore, if you are having financial trouble then ask your university whether they provide extra funding. Some universities are offering to reimburse the cost of the hotel quarantine as well as offering hardship funds for students.
What do I need to do if I am travelling from anywhere else?
*Fully vaccinated means that you had your second dose of the vaccine 14 days ago. If less than 14 days have passed you are NOT fully vaccinated.
If you are fully vaccinated (14 days after your second dose):
- If you are going to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland then you must take a PCR pre-departure test no more that 72h before you are travelling. You don’t need this for England.
- Book and pay for a day two test. You have to take this on the second day after your arrival to the UK. You can book it via the government page.
- Show proof of your vaccination status.
- You do not have to quarantine unless your day two test comes out positive.
Keep in mind that not all vaccines are valid. You need to make sure that the one that you have is valid under the EMA and FDA. These are: Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca, Jansen and Corminatry. If you have been vaccinated in the UK, US, EU, New Zealand, Canada or Australia, the vaccine will most likely be valid. Otherwise you might need to get vaccinated again in the UK.
If you are not fully vaccinated:
- If you are going to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you must take a PCR pre-departure test no more that 72h before you are travelling. You do not need to do this if you are coming to England.
- Book and pay for a day two and a day eight test. These must be taken on or before day two and day eight.
- You must quarantine at home for ten days. You can also opt to pay for a ‘test to release’ test which you will be able to take on day five (only valid in England). You must book this before your arrival to the UK and it will cost between £80 and £120 depending on what company you book it with. You are allowed to stop quarantining as soon as you receive a negative result from this test.
What is happening with student visas?
With these new restrictions, the government has implemented some concessions for Student visa holders. The goal of this is to provide you with time and flexibility in regards to your return to the UK. All international students, whether returning or starting their first academic year in 2021-2022, will be allowed to do online learning from home. However, you must have returned to the UK by 6 April 2022.
To be able to keep your visa, though, you must meet two conditions. If you are studying from home you cannot miss more than 30 days of class, otherwise your visa will be withdrawn.
For international students who are in the UK, from 27 September onwards you must undertake face-to-face learning at least two times per month.