The United Kingdom and Australia Set to Lift Travel Restrictions in February

April 18th, 2022

The United Kingdom will lift many of the COVID-related travel restrictions at 4 am tomorrow, February 11, while Australia is set to follow suit on February 21.

February Changes to the UK’s Travel Restrictions

  • From February 11, fully-vaccinated arrivals will not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival.
  • Arrivals that are not fully vaccinated will need a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before day 2.
  • 16 further countries and territories will be recognized for vaccine certifications.

Fully-vaccinated travelers to the UK will only need to fill out the passenger locator form, which is to be simplified by the end of February to only include a confirmation of a person’s vaccination status, contact information, and travel history. Fully-vaccinated travelers will not need to undergo any additional testing when arriving in the UK.

Travelers that are not fully vaccinated will need to take a test before they depart for the UK and a PCR test by day 2 of arrival. They will also need to fill out the passenger locator form but will not need to self-isolate unless the test determines they are COVID positive.

The UK’s government attributes the easing of the travel restrictions to a successful vaccine and booster program.

Sajid Javid, the Health and Social Care Secretary has stated that:

Thanks to the success of the vaccination programme, now is the right time to take this additional step towards opening up international travel once again.

Further, the UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has stated:

We made the right calls at the right time and thanks to our vaccine and booster rollout it’s paying off – allowing us to safely remove nearly all COVID-19 travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers.

This welcome change for travelers also comes right before the half term, a short school holiday in the United Kingdom previously popular for traveling abroad. According to the Government’s estimate, these changes could save approximately £100 on tests for the average family.

In addition to softening the travel restrictions, from February 11, the UK will start recognizing vaccine certificates from 16 additional countries and territories, including China. With these additions, the UK will recognize vaccine certificates from over 180 countries and territories.

You can find the full list of countries and territories with eligible vaccine certifications here.

According to a news release on the UK’s Government website:

The framework set out today is intended to be one that will last. It aims to provide stability for travellers and the travel industry throughout 2022, ensuring the UK remains one of the best places in the world to do business.

February Changes to Australia’s Travel Restrictions

  • From February 21, fully-vaccinated foreign citizens with eligible visas will not require a travel exemption to enter Australia.
  • Travel exemptions will still be required for persons that are not recognized as fully vaccinated.

Similar to the UK, Australia is also set to ease COVID-related travel restrictions. However, as the Australian government had imposed some of the harshest limitations to travel in the world, including both international and domestic travel, the measures that will take effect on February 21 will still not be as open as the ones set by the UK.

Namely, Australia mostly closed its borders to international travel in March 2020, but slowly started the process of reopening its borders in November 2021. Until February 21, 2022, only fully-vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents, and eligible visa holders can travel to Australia without a need for a travel exemption.

Starting on Monday, February 21, fully vaccinated non-Australians with eligible visas will be allowed to enter the country without a travel exemption. A press release from the Prime Minister’s website states:

Australia will reopen to all fully vaccinated visa holders, welcoming the return of tourists, business travellers, and other visitors from 21 February.”

Travelers that are not fully vaccinated will still need a travel exemption to enter Australia and must abide by state or territory quarantine rules. The full list of travel exemptions to enter Australia can be found here.

The loosening of the UK’s and Australia’s travel restrictions is surely a welcome change for tourists and business people and for those that have not been able to visit family and friends since the travel restrictions were put into place. Hopefully, the situation will only continue to improve through 2022.

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