What Do The New Travel Rules Mean For Golfers
The 4th of October 2021 signified alteration to the COVID-19 travel restrictions, with the former model being completely replaced. This is excellent news for UK golfers, as travelling to our favourite winter hotspots has become easier to access. However, despite there being new legislation around travelling, some former restrictions have remained in place. Below we round up the current requirements for any UK golfers looking to travel for a golf break *
* Please note this article is a guide to the current restrictions. Always check the official government sources before travelling. For UK foreign travel advice visit here. This article was updated on 6th October 2021.
Spain & Portugal Travel
Of all the European countries, Spain and Portugal are usually the most popular when it comes to UK golfers travelling abroad. Considering this, we have delegated the neighbouring countries their own section so you can understand exactly what will be required from you prior to departing.
For everyone who is aged 12 or over and arriving in Spain from the UK, they must provide on entry a pre-travel declaration form and either a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travelling or proof of full vaccination status. The vaccination must have been administered 14 days to prior to departure and within the last year.
Travellers from England or Wales will be able to utilise the NHS Covid Pass as evidence of vaccination status but if you live in Scotland, you can download a QR code or request written confirmation from the NHS.
Moreover, you must complete a health control form no later than 48 hours before travelling to Spain – by air or sea. Details of the requirements can be found here.
All travellers coming back to the UK are required to complete the passenger locator form 48 hours before your departure. More details on this below. Additionally, on return to the UK, vaccinated travellers do not need to complete the pre-departure test nor quarantine but are required to take a PCR test 2 days after returning, this most be booked before you travel. Unvaccinated travellers will still need to complete the pre-departure test, self isolate on their return and take PCR tests on day 2 and day 8, which must be booked before travel.
Related Link: Golf breaks to Spain
Data source: Skyscanner COVID-19 travel tool, visit here.
Unlike Spain, mainland Portugal do not currently accept the NHS Covid Pass as sufficient proof of vaccination. As a consequence, anyone traveling to Portugal aged 12 or over, who doesn't have access to the EU digital COVID certificate, must display a negative result for a PCR test taken no later than 72 hours before arrival – or an approved lateral flow test within 48 hours.
It is advised that you book privately and you do not use the NHS testing service if you are intending to take an approved lateral flow test as evidence.
Finally, travellers will also be expected to complete a passenger locator card and may be asked to be temperature-checked upon arrival. Visit here for further information.
If you are planning to visit the beautiful island of Madeira, then there is slight alteration to the travel requirements. For anyone aged 12 or over, it is mandatory to complete a traveller questionnaire and you must either take a PCR test within 72 hours of travel or prove that you are fully vaccinated.
Just like Spain, all travellers coming back to the UK are required to complete the passenger locator form 48 hours before your departure. More details on this below. On return to the UK from Portugal, vaccinated travellers do not need to complete the pre-departure test nor quarantine but are required to take a PCR test 2 days after returning, this most be booked before you travel. Unvaccinated travellers will still need to complete the pre-departure test, self isolate on their return and take PCR tests on day 2 and day 8, which must be booked before travel.
Related Link: Golf breaks to Portugal
Data source: Skyscanner COVID-19 travel tool, visit here.
October 4, 2021, Changes
From 4am on Monday 4 October 2021, as outlined with Spain and Portugal above, the simplified system comes into affectthat will be utilised for international travel. The pre-existing traffic light system that contained the colours green, amber and red has been replaced.
The previous green and amber categories will now be known as ‘rest of the world’ or ‘non-red list’ countries and a single category of ‘red list’ of countries will remain in place. Moreover, there have been significant changes revolving around testing requirements upon returning from a non-red list country.
If you are fully vaccinated, then the contents of this list applies to you:
- You will no longer need to take a pre-departure test within three days before returning to the UK.
- From the end of October, you will no longer need to take a PCR test on the second day of your arrival to either England or Scotland. Instead, you will need to take a lateral flow test (cheaper).
If the lateral flow test comes back as positive, you will then need to isolate and take a PCR test to confirm the positivity from the lateral flow – at no additional cost. The plan is for this to be in action as residents return home from their October half-term holidays.
This information only applies for residents in Scotland and England, as Wales and Northern Ireland are yet to announce if PCR tests will be replaced with lateral flow tests.
To prove you are fully vaccinated in the UK, 14 days must have passed since your last course of an approved vaccine such as: Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Janssen. This can be displayed via the NHS COVID Pass (which is obtainable for free via the NHS App in England), showing your record of your COVID-19 vaccination status or via the COVID Status app in Scotland or through the Northern Ireland COVID certificate service.
It is crucial that you check what vaccination is accepted for the country you are to visit, as you may need to supply a negative COVID-19 test if that country does not accept yours.
This can be checked at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice and you can also visit the government’s website for further information regarding when to prove your vaccination status if intending to travel abroad. However, if you have not been fully vaccinated or are unvaccinated, then there are no changes to travel policy or quarantine requirements.
What this effectively means is if you are arriving in the UK from a non-red list country, you will still be required to take a pre-departure test, a PCR test on the second and eighth day and quarantine at home for a further 10 days.
If you are arriving in England, you will still be issued with the option to utilise the Test to Release scheme on the fifth day. Click here for details.
Passenger Documentation and Travel Locator Forms
In most countries it will be mandatory to complete some form of passenger travel form before arrival from the UK. For example the FCS form in Spain, Passenger Locator form in Portugal, Statement form in France and Digital Registration in Germany.
Passenger Locator Form Travelling Back to the UK
It is mandatory to complete a passenger locator form online before arrival to the UK. Moreover, the form must be completed even if you are exclusively transiting through the UK. Visit the UK governement website here.
The form can be submitted any time in the 48 hours before you will arrive in the UK – submission of the form is completely free. You will then be required to show your form when you prepare to travel or board your ferry, train or plane to the UK.
The form is crucial if you are to secure travel back to the UK and we have compiled a list of what you will need to complete the form:
- Passport details or travel document that will be used when you arrive at the UK border.
- Your complete travel details – including times and dates of holiday.
- The address you will be staying in the UK (if applicable).
- The booking reference numbers of any COVID-19 tests that will be taken post-arrival into the UK.
- The invoice number for the hotel that you have booked your quarantine with (if applicable).
- If you’re utilising Test to Release and arriving in England, you’ll also need the name of the test provider that you have booked with.
Getting Easier To Travel
So whilst there are still some complexities, things are getting easier and the processes clearer. As mentioned, the above are guidelines and we always recommend checking the official government sources before travelling.
One member of the Golfshake team was fortunate to recently travel to Majorca on a golf trip, prior to the changes on the 4th October, and commented on the process:
The pre-trip process was straightforward by completion of the UK NHS Covid pass app. This provides a QR code that is identified to you via medical records. I followed this by the completion of the Spain Travel Health app and this was a similar procedure. It generates unique QR codes that are produced and simply checked via a scanner at the customs barrier allowing healthy entry to the country.
The process was actually smoother than when I last travelled to Spain as all passengers had arrived earlier and the checks were completed without rush or concern. I found this process reassuringly safe and not intrusive. To return; a passenger locator form is required 48 hours before departure and a validated swab by a doctor was then married up to the travel intentions with an e-mail providing exactly the same information. Again reassuringly safe.
Top Travel Tip: Ensure your phone is fully charged before arrival at the airport, if all your QR codes are stored on the phone, and it crashes it makes for a difficult and stressful time whilst sufficient charge is obtained.
Assuming full vaccination status, see above, then in the most simplest terms, to a non red-list country, travel requirements are:
- Check the UK government foreign office travel advice for the country you are travelling to
- Complete all pre-trip requirements related to the country you are travelling to
- Useful link: www.skyscanner.net/travel-restrictions
- Book a PCR test, before you travel, for 2 days after you return
- Usefule link: www.gov.uk/find-travel-test-provider
- Note: It's planned that the PCR test will be replaced with a cheaper lateral flow test by November 2021
- 48 hours before you depart home complete the passenger locator form
Let us know if you do travel and how you find it by commenting in the comment section below. Safe travels and enjoy your golf!
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