Day 2 Antigen Test Travel Update: Lateral Flow Antigen Testing to be Introduced for Vaccinated Travellers

day 2 antigen test

Written by HMI

October 21, 2021

Passengers who are fully vaccinated and arriving from non-red list countries from the 24th October will benefit from the introduction of cheaper and quicker lateral flow tests that will replace RT-PCR tests to become a day 2 antigen test. 

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The government has announced certain amendments to the current coronavirus requirements in a move to simplifying the traffic light system, including the approval of lateral flow tests instead of the RT-PCR test, except for travellers arriving from the red list countries. As of now, the countries on the red list are Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru, Venezuela. The new rules coming into effect from 24 October, only require a “on arrival” to the UK test and therefore, no pre-departure would be needed for eligible persons. The test should be taken before the end of Day 2 from the day of arrival to England. Usually, the day of arrival is counted as day 0. 

Although the rules remain the same for unvaccinated passengers or those vaccinated with an unapproved vaccine, who must take a test pre-departure as well as after arrival on Day 2 and Day 8 and complete the 10 day self isolation.

As per the Press Release by the Department of Health and Social Care, the lateral flow tests can be booked from the 22nd of October for fully vaccinated persons and eligible persons under 18. The cost of the lateral flow test, also known as the rapid antigen test is usually less than half the cost of the RT-PCR making it an efficient and cheaper alternative.

What is a lateral flow test used for day 2 antigen testing?

A lateral flow test is a rapid antigen test performed with the help of a simple device that detects whether an individual is infected with the coronavirus. The results from this test are usually obtained within a timeframe of a few hours.

How does it work?

A lateral-flow test can be taken with a simple device to detect the presence of coronavirus through a nasal and/or throat swab. The procedure is similar to that of an RT-PCR except that the swab and tube comes with a testing device that can give you the results instantly.

How to book the test a day 2 Antigen Test?

The test can be booked on the website of the Government by choosing from the list of private providers. A test from the NHS cannot be used as an “on arrival” test and will not be accepted by the concerned authorities. You can also book your test by clicking here – “day 2 antigen tests”

What are the current requirements for international travelling from England?

The existing regulations mandate the travellers arriving from abroad to get tested by the RT-PCR test before Day 2 and/or after Day 8 from their day of arrival in England. Whereas, the lateral flow test is required to be booked only as a Day 2 test and can be booked with government-approved private providers for a significantly lesser cost as compared to the PCR. 

This has only been possible due to the success of the vaccination programme in the United Kingdom, with about 79% of adults including over 12’s fully vaccinated. The rules have also been eased in time for those returning from their half-term break. It is expected that this would lead to a boost in tourism and a major relief for the travel industry. Find information on rapid antigen testing here.

Source: Priyanka Vohra, LLM Graduate from QMUL

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