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Here are the full guidelines for the new Day 2 lateral flow tests

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Late on Thursday night, the Government announced that lateral flow tests would be accepted from 24th October for the majority of people entering England.

More information has now been published, allowing us to flesh out the details.

Remember that this information only applies to people entering England. The devolved administrations have their own policies.

What's the small print on the introduction of Day 2 lateral flow tests?

What is a Day 2 test?

A ‘Day 2’ test is the covid test that everyone, including children of five years and older, is obliged to take within two full calendar days of entering England.

You do NOT need to take the test on Day 2. You can take it on Day 0 (many people take one at the airport as soon as they pass through immigration), Day 1 or Day 2.

What is changing?

From 24th October, most people entering England can take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a pricier – but more accurate – PCR test.

To take advantage of this:

  • you must be ‘fully vaccinated’ under the Government definition (your vaccine must be on the prescribed list, the course must have been completed within a fixed period before entering England and you must have received your vaccine in one of the 100+ countries where the Government recognises the integrity of the local vaccination programme)
  • you must not be entering England from a ‘Red List’ country or have visited one in the previous 10 days before your arrival in the UK – although if you were, you would be undergoing hotel quarantine in any case

What should my unvaccinated children do?

Children under 18 are treated as ‘fully vaccinated’ – and so eligible to take a lateral flow test – irrespective of the status of the adults they are travelling with.

All children aged five and above must take a ‘Day 2’ test. No tests are required for children aged four and under.

What happens if I am not ‘fully vaccinated’ but not entering from a ‘Red List’ country?

You must:

  • take a ‘fit to fly’ pre-departure test before boarding a flight to England
  • take a PCR test – not lateral flow – within two full calendar days of arriving in the UK
  • undergo 10 days of self-isolation
  • take a ‘Day 8’ PCR test, with the option of paying for an additional ‘Test to Release’ on Day 5

When does this take effect on 24th October?

It is not clear. In the absence of any specific time, you should assume it applies to all aircraft that land after 00:00.

What's the small print on the introduction of Day 2 lateral flow tests?

How do I get a lateral flow test kit?

As with the existing PCR tests, these must be purchased from a private provider before entering the UK. The reference number for your purchase must be added to your Passenger Locator Form.

Apparently unlicenced lateral flow test kits are accepted

The Government is allowing tests to be sold which do not meet the required standards because there is a shortage of high quality lateral flow test kits in the UK. To quote from

“The government will extend regulations and publish protocol to allow some tests supplied to the private testing market that are pending validation to remain on the market in the short term. This is to address any potential shortage of supply while work continues at pace to ensure only high-performing tests are ultimately approved to remain on the UK market.”

When can I purchase a qualifying test?

Kits will be available to purchase from 22nd October.

The Government will publish a list of approved suppliers but you are not obliged to use a supplier on that list.

How do I submit my test result?

The Government has stated that a photograph of the test cartridge, uploaded to a platform run by your test provider, is acceptable as proof of a negative test.

Can I still submit a PCR test, as I have already bought a kit?


What happens if my lateral flow test is positive?

You should order a confirmatory PCR test via the NHS and self-isolate for 10 days from the date that you first experienced symptoms. It is not 10 days from when you tested positive.

You can find out more on this page of You should obviously double-check the information in this article with if it impacts you in any way.

Comments (132)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Volker says:

    „Remember that this information only applies to people entering England. The devolved administrations have their own policies.“

    In November, I‘ll be entering the UK on a ticket DUS-LHR-INV. As the first leg is on an evening flight, I will be staying at the Sofitel T5, and my connecting flight to INV will be leaving the next morning.

    Am I right in assuming that therefore the English rules apply, and would this be any different if my stopover at LHR was a mere transit that didn’t involve leaving the airside area?

  • Anna says:

    Is it just me or does this really not make sense any more? As someone pointed out, for a nominal fee a picture of an nhs test could be uploaded to a central database, and that’s not even taking into account that the process can be manipulated and are therefore unreliable. We’re supposed to use the free LFTs twice a week anyway so one of these could be a day 2 test with no ethical problems.

    • Peter says:

      That seems very sensible to me Anna. Far too sensible for this or any government sadly.

    • JDB says:

      It’s fairly much impossible and disproportionate in an open country like ours to set up some sort of foolproof system. Maybe they will require people to show the serial number of the test kit or something and carry out a few spot checks? The reality is that the vast majority of us will comply, so the system will work to the extent envisaged.

  • Paul says:

    Just make the code up for the PLF. Please don’t waste your money on buying one of these rip-off tests! Just use a “free” NHS one on your return if you want to check.

    • John says:

      Totally correct. The FREE NHS kits have unique serial numbers, who in the Government doesn’t know this ? Or am I missing something?

  • Dominic says:

    Ludicrous that this scheme still remains with the private sector. Use it to gain some of the cash back from COVID, not line the pockets of Govt friends

    • JDB says:

      The state does not have the people or the capacity, nor would it be cost effective for it to set up some system. If they were to spend a whole lot of money doing so for the benefit of holidaymakers (ie the richer people in society) or business travellers, there would rightly be an uproar.

      • Dominic says:

        I simply do not believe that that is true.

        We have an incredibly expensive Test & Trace system. It is a relatively minor extension to charge ALL passengers for submitting a PLF; the price charged should then cover the cost of the NHS test. You also then remove the capability of people to make up a fake booking reference (as the only reason they are not currently checked is because it would mean having API calls and databases to every single testing provider).

        • Mark says:

          Absolutely agree. It could even go some way to covering the cost of the wider testing system depending on where the price is set, and probably still be cheaper for the traveller.

          • JDB says:

            Why on earth should the state set up a whole infrastructure/system of ordering, supply, logistics/despatch, test recording, staffing customer service etc. so that maybe your holiday test will be a little bit cheaper? In reality the government (of any hue) never does anything cheaply; it is a huge and almost certainly incorrect assumption that your test would be cheaper than the private sector ones. Plus they don’t want all the aggro and moans from passengers about cost, tests not being delivered, emails not answered.

        • Lady London says:

          Yup. Should be an NHS (with the option to go private) charged at standard prescription rate. Or is that too simple?

          That’s if the requirement to do such a poorly reliable type of test even made sense.

      • Andy says:

        That’s my thoughts as well. Flying is not a god given right, it’s a luxury that lots can’t afford. Whining on here that it’s a rip off cuts no ice with me or people that simply can’t afford foreign holidays. Suck it up buttercup, it’s your choice to fly

        • Andrew says:

          Totally agree Andy.

        • Doug M says:

          Anyone using the phrase suck it up buttercup gets a +1.

        • Dominic says:

          To be clear, I’m not asking for it to be cheaper (my post never asked for that). What I am saying is that the Government should benefit from this scheme, not the mates of Matt Hancock. Obviously if it is cheaper for the traveller, that’s great. The thing with the current system is that it has actually excluded those that could have afforded their family holiday to Andalucia, and instead prevents them. It doesn’t stop any of the middle class.

          JDB – the Government already has the majority of this in place. The Test & Trace system is an incredible feat (despite some flaws); in the context of Government, this would have been a relatively minor addition.

          • Anna says:

            Exactly- nobody would mind doing the tests if it was not for profit or at least benefiting the public purse.

    • Harry T says:

      Isn’t the main argument against the testing prices the fact that other similar countries do it much more cheaply, and we are getting taken for a ride by a bunch of cowboys who have been to the pub with the Saj or Spatchcock? I happily earn enough money that I don’t give a monkeys whether a day 2 test costs me £40 or £5, but I also don’t think that means I should tolerate profiteering. This country is doing its best to price the average family out of being able to go on holiday and that will have wide ranging repercussions.

      • JDB says:

        Where other countries are apparently doing it for less, that is generally because the government is contributing/subsidising. There is simply no way the government could provide the travel tests for a lower cost, let alone make a profit and they want to preserve their capacity in case of need. The price of tests has come down, the government collects VAT (on most of what you pay), NICs + corporation tax (and since everything is online these businesses will struggle to hide much of the cash) which much yield a greater cash sum. For the government to set up some consumer interface for travel tests would be a fiasco.

        • Lady London says:

          not true JDB. Tests are not subsidised at all, in many equivalent countries where they cost a fractional fraction of the cost in the UK.

          • JDB says:

            @Lady London tests were subsidised at least in France (€1bn/month per Macron and included travel tests), Finland and Spain, all gradually being reduced or removed entirely. A test will now cost you €44 via social security in France and a prescription is required. Portugal had a subsidy rather than generally free tests. We are a real outlier in still offering free tests so widely and the government wants to stop that owing to the huge cost and questionable cost/benefit. Many of these countries also operate rather different health systems, eg France where you pay for GP appointments and the system is very largely contributory.

      • JDB says:

        @Harry T the principle is a bit like airlines that have outsourced functions such as catering which was previously almost exclusively done in house. Catering is outside the core competence, so that other firms have better economies of scale, so produce a better product at a lower cost than the airlines can. The private sector was immediately able to provide resource in terms of people, telephony, premises etc. for travel testing and Test & Trace that the government didn’t have. Not saying whether it’s right or wrong, but the government often has the (taxpayer) funds to buy the services which it does not have, nor has the expertise, staff or capability to provide.

        • Dominic says:

          That example would only be relevant if I purchased my airline food from external companies. Your example would work if the Government contracted other firms to do the testing, but the actual relationship was between the Government and the consumer.

        • J says:

          The NHS are by far the largest test provider in the country. If you are right, we should be outraged their testing is not outsourced. My guess is that a ‘free’ test picked up at a pharmacy is cheaper.

      • kitten says:

        You’re right Harry T it’s a recipe for families to vote Labour.

  • Nicky says:

    Off to the States in December (cruise over) but flying back, so do I get the Passenger locator form before I go along with the lateral flow test and take with me or do I download the PLF whilst away and see if I can get a lateral flow in the states (not too sure what I have to do)

  • Laura says:

    In November I have a flight, transiting through the UK (without leaving the airport). So, I still have to purchase the test, which is stupid. What’s the cheapest test out there? I need to fill the locator form with a code!

    • John says:

      No, you are exempt and there is a section on the PLF to mark that you are in transit

      Note that you must be in transit out of the CTA, so Ireland, CI and IOM don’t count

  • Mark says:

    Neither. Order a test while you’re there for delivery to your UK home address. That will give you a code (sent by email) to put on your PLF which you fill out within 48 hours of your return flight.

  • TGLoyalty says:

    – if they are travelling with adults who meet the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’.

    You keep writing this and it’s complete nonsense. Where in all of the GOV.U.K. Pages on the subject does it say this.

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