Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

4am Tuesday is the start time for PCR tests and compulsory isolation

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

One fact missing from Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday about the reintroduction of PCR tests and self-isolation for UK arrivals was the start date.

The requirement for the Government to publish a Statutory Instrument, and to give the testing companies some time to prepare, has caused a delay.

The following message has now appeared on the Passenger Locator Form website:

From 04:00 Tuesday 30 November 2021 testing and isolation requirements will change for all arrivals into the UK.

If you are arriving into the UK after 04:00 Tuesday 30 November 2021 then please return to complete your Passenger Locator Form after 04:00 Monday 29 November as the system is currently being updated.

If you are arriving into the UK before 04:00 Tuesday 30 November 2021 please continue to complete your Passenger Locator Form now.

After 04:00 Tuesday 30 November 2021 lateral flow tests will no longer be accepted and all travellers arriving into UK will be required to book and take COVID-19 PCR tests.”

The original text is here.

This will hopefully provide some leeway for anyone who needs to return to the UK.

Remember that you will need to self isolate from the time you arrive in the UK until you receive your test result. You may only leave home to take your test and to buy food if no-one else can buy it for you.

Comments (195)

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

  • Richard says:

    I am returning 13th in the evening and have another flight on the 14th in the morning.

    How is this supposed to work? Under the new rules I cannot leave the country? Saying that, I know plenty of people who flew into the Uk during a time when you had to do day 2/8 tests and left the country again 3 days later which surprised me as I would have considered this breaking the isolation rules?

    • Ian M says:

      You were allowed to leave self isolation to leave the country. I presume that will be the case again now. Otherwise all landside transit passengers are screwed as well

    • TGLoyalty says:

      You can leave the country.

      You have to isolate when in Britain except when going for a test, onward travel buying food if no one else can and urgent medical care (there are probably some other emergencies it’s ok to leave for too but I’ve never needed to read into that)

    • John says:

      I suspect you’d be able to get away with not doing the test as you leave before day 2 – but you’ll now have to self-isolate except for travelling directly to your accommodation and then directly back to the airport.

  • ChrisC says:

    This is all predicated on the SI being approved by Parliament tomorrow.

    • HH says:

      Given their overriding desire to ‘save Christmas’, I expect this will sail through given how little anyone knows about omicron right now.

    • Richie says:

      Does Mr Johnson really understand what he can and can’t announce and the importance of SIs?

    • Roy says:

      He just needs to lay the instrument before parliament. Parliament won’t get to vote on it.

    • abc says:

      No it’s not, the government has 28 days before it has to ask parliament for a vote on it (and it’s in force in the meantime).

  • JamesD says:

    Common travel area exempt still? Can’t find any official info

    • Rob says:

      Has to be as your arrival is not tracked.

      • ADS says:

        But presumably they could still tell arrivals from CTA to comply, even if they don’t track us !

        Although since the CTA has been excluded from every other travel regulation, hard to see why they would suddenly include us in this one

  • Alex says:

    If you have a BA holiday planned in less than 3 weeks, does this change gives you ground to request a voucher for it? Thanks!

    • Rob says:

      No, why would it? Nothing impacts your holiday at all – whether you need to isolate on your return isn’t anything to do with BAH. The only impact would be if your destination imposed new rules.

  • C says:

    Is it worth paying an extra £15 premium to do an on-site pcr test (Collins on, express test) instead of mail in kits (T4A)? Would i receive the results sooner.

    • Ryan says:

      No one will know if you don’t quarantine…

      Save the £ and stop worrying

      • C says:

        Agree with this as logistically they have scaled down and now being asked to track all arrivals.

      • Rich says:

        People like you Ryan are part of the problem not the solution. What if he has the virus and doesn’t self quarantine? We all want this to end, but for that to happen we all have to play our part.

      • Mike says:

        Ryan – wrong attitude

    • Rob says:

      Obviously it’s quicker because it removes the 1-2 days required for the mail-in test to arrive. You can do a 3 hour test at Heathrow – you have the result by the time you get home.

      • David says:

        I believe that the 3 hour test is (at least currently) only ‘Fit to Fly’ i.e. pre departure.

        • C says:

          Day 2 tests requires genomic sequencing so not the same as rapid 3 hour test. If I get the results come back sooner I don’t mind paying the extra but keen to hear from peoples experience if it’s worth it.

          • Dave says:

            Err, no. Not all PCR tests are being sequenced, that would be a near-impossible feat.

            Positive PCR tests are subsequently sent for sequencing, including the 3-hour PCR tests at LHR.

        • Rob says:

          Same test though … not hard to repackage it.

  • Ian says:

    I’m flying into UK on Virgin from HK. I land at 4.40am. I had booked some LFT tests (wonder if you can get a refund?) which are now useless

    I have booked a PCR drive thru tests for outbound travel at Heathrow at 7am, as worried slots will go. What’s the likelihood these will be OK?

    • Graham says:

      Outbound tests won’t provide you with the PLF number but I assume the format is the same for the LFTs? Realistically you’re getting the same test so you may have to use the LFT code and take your PCR.

      If checked, which is highly unlikely, you can demonstrate your PCR results. The difference is the piece of paper rather than anything else but YMMV.

    • John says:

      I would bet that the PLF won’t be able to tell whether any codes are valid or not – unless the govt decides to change the format of the code at the last minute

    • ianM says:

      Simplytestme have helpfully emailed customers about refunds on LFT orders

  • Peter says:

    I don’t see it working, lots of people coming for 5 days trip to UK who booked the £1 PCR tests won’t bother especially when all they risk are calls from Test and Trace. It will slow down the spread, but won’t stop it sadly.

    • Ryan says:

      £1 PCRs are back? That’s the best news I’ve heard for ages! I’ll get searching

  • roberto says:

    FWIW I had this email from Simply Test Me…

    Update to customers in response to change in Government Regulations to PCR Tests
    Dear Customer,
    We are aware that the already difficult travel landscape has just got infinitely more challenging.
    We started our company in a bid to offer required testing at a reasonable cost whilst still keeping outstanding customer service.
    We’re thankful to all our customers who ‘took the plunge’ and booked with us, and we thank you for the overwhelmingly positive reviews, comments on social media and personal recommendations. It has been a pleasure speaking to a number of you on the phone and via email when we’ve taken Customer Service shifts to ensure we had a grasp on what was going on in our business!
    At this stage, we want to offer clarity and a clear plan to ensure those of you still planning to travel are able to do so, that we don’t keep your money longer than necessary nor do we charge unreasonable cancellation fees (or like some of our competitors offer no cancellations).
    Our intention is to offer Day 2 PCR tests, and we expect these to cost £43. This will include next day return delivery to our lab from any post-box (subject to catching the last mail collection) and same day results (ie a test posted to us on a Monday will have results by Tuesday evening subject to Royal Mail). If this is of interest, we would ask you to keep checking our website from tomorrow as we finalise stocks of PCR swabs. However, we want you to be able to make your decision as to your best provider and give you the freedom to choose.
    As such, we have put the following policy into place:
    • Arrivals today and Monday 29th November will be able to use the Lateral Flow tests as normal and any outstanding bookings for arrivals on Monday will be sent as normal. Bookings are open for the rest of today for arrivals tomorrow (with Tracked 24 delivery only).
    • For all tests not yet dispatched for bookings with an arrival date before the 3rd January 2022
    we will be giving automatic refunds minus our incurred costs (transaction fee and admin fee) of 50p per test.
    That’s a refund of £11.50 for a £12 standard booking, or £15.10 on a Tracked 24 service.
    We expect all these refunds to be finished by the middle of this week.
    We will reassess the situation towards the end of December and offer the same for January bookings should this be relevant.
    • For all tests already dispatched
    These can either be transferred free of charge to future travel (for when

    • roberto says:

      PART 2
      • For all tests already dispatched
      These can either be transferred free of charge to future travel (for when Day 2 Lateral Flows return) or returned to us.
      Once the test has been received back at our warehouse, we will refund minus our incurred costs (transaction fee, packing and shipping).
      That’s a refund of £9.50 per test (tracked 24 upgrade fee was charged to customers at cost so there is no additional refund due).
      There is no pressure to return these – this policy will be available into January 2022 if you wish to wait to see whether transfer to future travel is better for you.
      Tests can be returned to us by writing RTS on the outer envelope and placing in any Royal Mail postbox.
      Please note that we will be unable to respond to individual emails from customers, where the answers are above, in order to be able to process refunds where relevant as quickly as possible.
      Please also note that our telephone call centre will be closed this week whilst we work through emails and refunds.
      I thank you for your custom, and as usual, please feel free to review our service here.

    • Alan says:

      Very impressed – haven’t had to book any of these tests yet but they sound like a decent company that would be worth giving business to 👍

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.