As Taylor geared up to return to the U.K., news broke that as of Aug. 2, fully vaccinated Americans are allowed into England and Scotland without a mandatory quarantine.
The U.K. recently updated rules for travel again, which loosened testing requirements travelers from “green” countries, which includes the United States.
Here’s everything you need to know to get prepared for a trip to the U.K.
What covid-related documentation you’ll need
You will need to show more than your vaccine status to enter the United Kingdom.
Within 48 hours of arriving, travelers must fill out a passenger locator form.
Additionally, vaccinated Americans must take a test on day two of arrival (the day you get there is day zero, according to the government’s website).
Travelers have to make arrangement for this test ahead of their trip. Here are details on how to find them.
Unvaccinated visitors have to take a pre-departure test, quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, and test on days two and eight of quarantine.
If you are arriving from red-list country, you will be refused entry unless you are a British or Irish national or have residency rights. The list is constantly updating, but you can read the rules here.
What to know about restrictions
Most coronavirus restrictions were lifted this summer. As with everything in the pandemic, what stands now may change at any moment, but at this time there are no social distancing rules, no mask mandates and no limit to how many people can gather. However, the government still recommends taking personal precautions.
“The bars, the pubs, the hotels, the restaurants, all the attractions and such were reopened mid-July as part of a phased approach,” says Gavin Landry, director of the Americas for VisitBritain.
You may have to show your vaccine status or get additional coronavirus tests during your stay in the U.K.
Travelers can use the NHS Covid Pass app (the U.K.'s vaccine passport system) to upload and store coronavirus test information; however, officially storing your vaccine status in the app is only available for those 16 years and older who have been vaccinated in Wales or England. When required, U.S. travelers will have to show their CDC vaccine card and any necessary test results. Landry recommends downloading the app Verifly to keep a digital record of your vaccine and test results.
How to dine and explore
Before you get to the United Kingdom, map out some of the key things you would like to do and see if you need a reservation or timed ticket.
Richard Cooke, general manager of the Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, highly recommends travelers talk to the concierge of their hotel and get a few reservations on the books, whether you’re hoping to tour the Macallan distillery in Speyside or the Tate Modern in London.
That goes for hotels as well. With tourism reopening and locals traveling more within the nation, rooms are filling up — particularly in the countryside where U.K. residents have been vacationing this summer.
However, even though you need reservations more than ever, you may find fewer tourists than in previous years.
“It’s not that crowded and so it’s more enjoyable in that respect,” Duncan Palmer, general manager at the Beaumont in London said this summer. “There will be less queues to get into things so I think it’s a wonderful time to come in the next three, four, six months.
Has it been your dream to play golf at St. Andrews? This could be the best time to tee up at the U.K.'s most famous courses.
“There are more tee times available to book in advance,” Cooke says. “And they haven’t been trampled on in the last year and a half, so they’ll have a different visual aspect.”
Where to get a coronavirus test before returning home
As is the case wherever you travel internationally, you will have to get a coronavirus test before you fly back to the United States, no matter your vaccination status.
Cooke, who has traveled regularly between the U.S. and the U.K. in recent months, says finding a test is just as easy no matter which side of the pond you are on. You may be able to have one arranged at your hotel, but if that’s not the case, Cooke recommends making an appointment at a pharmacy near you. The U.S. Embassy in the U.K. has a list of local labs to find tests. Testing is also available at Heathrow Airport.
According to the embassy and U.K. government websites, travelers who get tested at a private clinic can expect to pay between $28 and nearly $700, depending on the test you get and where you take it.