What the new travel rules mean for golfers
October 4, 2021 meant a change in COVID-19 travel restrictions, with the old model being completely replaced. This is great news for UK golfers as traveling to our favorite winter hot spots just got easier to get to. However, despite the existence of new travel legislation, some old restrictions remained in place. Below we have put together the current requirements for all UK golfers wishing to travel for a golf holiday *
* Please note that this article is a guide to current restrictions. Always check official government sources before traveling. For advice on overseas travel to the UK visit here. This article was updated on October 6, 2021.
Travel to Spain and Portugal
Of all the European countries, Spain and Portugal are generally the most popular when it comes to British golfers traveling abroad. In view of this, we have delegated their own section to neighboring countries so that you can understand exactly what will be required of you before you leave.
For anyone aged 12 or over arriving in Spain from the UK, they must provide upon entry a pre-travel declaration form and either a COVID-19 test negative within 72 hours of travel or proof of full immunization status. The vaccination must have been administered 14 days before departure and within the last year.
Travelers from England or Wales will be able to use the NHS Covid Pass as proof of their vaccination status, but if you live in Scotland you can download a QR code or ask for written confirmation from the NHS.
In addition, you must complete a health control form no later than 48 hours before traveling to Spain – by air or sea. Details of the requirements can be found here.
Upon return to the UK, vaccinated travelers do not need to take the pre-departure test or quarantine but are required to take a PCR test 2 days after their return. Unvaccinated travelers will still need to complete the pre-departure test, self-isolate upon return, and take PCR tests on days 2 and 8.
Unlike Spain, mainland Portugal does not currently accept the NHS Covid Pass as sufficient proof of vaccination. As a result, anyone traveling to Portugal aged 12 or over, who does not have access to the EU’s digital COVID certificate, must display a negative result for a PCR test taken no later than 72 hours before arrival – or an approved side flow test within 48 hours.
It is advisable to book privately and not to use the NHS testing service if you intend to take an approved lateral flow test as proof.
Finally, travelers will also need complete a passenger locator card and it can be requested a temperature control on arrival. Visit here for more information.
If you are planning to visit the beautiful island of Madeira, the travel requirements are slightly changed. For anyone aged 12 or over, it is mandatory to complete a traveler questionnaire and you must either take a PCR test within 72 hours of travel, or prove that you are fully vaccinated.
Much like Spain, upon returning to the UK from Portugal, vaccinated travelers do not need to take the pre-departure or quarantine test but are required to take a PCR test 2 days after their return. Unvaccinated travelers will still need to complete the pre-departure test, self-isolate upon return, and take PCR tests on days 2 and 8.
Data Source: Skyscanner COVID-19 Travel Tool, visit here.
October 4, 2021, Amendments
From 4 a.m. starting Monday, October 4, 2021, there is a simplified system that will be used for international travel. The pre-existing traffic light system which contained the colors green, amber and red has been replaced.
The old green and orange categories will now be known as “rest of the world” or “non-red list” countries and only one “red list” category of countries will remain in place. In addition, there have been significant changes regarding the testing requirements upon return from a non-Red List country.
If you are fully vaccinated, then the contents of this list apply 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 in England or Scotland. Instead, you’ll need to take a (cheaper) lateral flow test.
If the lateral flow test is positive, then you will need to self-isolate and take a PCR test to confirm positive lateral flow – at no additional cost. The plan is for this to be in action as residents return home from their mid-October vacation.
This information only applies to residents of Scotland and England, as Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to announce whether PCR testing will be replaced by lateral flow testing.
Useful Tool: Skyscanner COVID-19 Travel Information Finder
TO prove that you are fully vaccinated in the UK, 14 days must have passed since your last course of a vaccine approved such as: Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Janssen. This can be displayed via the NHS COVID Pass (which can be obtained 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 via the certificate service COVID from Northern Ireland.
It is essential that you check which vaccination is accepted for the country you need to visit, as you may need to provide 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 website for more information on when to prove your immunization status if you intend to travel to the foreigner. However, if you have not been fully vaccinated or if you are not vaccinated, no changes are made to travel policy or quarantine requirements.
This effectively means that if you arrive in the UK from a non-redlisted country you will still need to take a pre-departure test, PCR test on day 2 and 8 and home quarantine for 10 other days. days.
If you arrive in England, you will still have the option to use the Test to Release program on the fifth day. Click here for more details.
Passenger Documentation and Trip Locator Forms
In most countries it will be mandatory to complete a passenger travel form before arriving from the UK. For example, FCS form in Spain, passenger tracking form in Portugal, declaration form in France and digital registration in Germany.
Further information is available through the Skyscanner COVID-19 travel tool or the government’s foreign travel advice webpage.
Return to UK Passenger Tracking Form
It is mandatory to complete an online passenger tracing form prior to your arrival in the UK. In addition, the form must be completed even if you are transiting exclusively through the United Kingdom.
The form can be submitted anytime within 48 hours of your arrival in the UK – submission of the form is completely free. You will then need to present your form when preparing to travel or board your ferry, train or plane to the UK.
The form is crucial if you want to secure your return to the UK and we have compiled a list of what you will need to complete the form:
- Details of the passport or travel document that will be used upon arrival at the UK border
- Your complete travel details – including vacation times and dates
- The address where you will be staying in the UK (if applicable)
- Booking reference numbers of all COVID-19 tests that will be performed after arriving in the UK
- The invoice number of the hotel with which you booked your quarantine
- If you are using Test to Release and arriving in England, you will also need the name of the test provider you booked with.
Travel more easily
So while there are still some complexities, things get easier and the processes clearer. As mentioned, the above items are guidelines and we always recommend checking official government sources before traveling.
A member of the Golfshake team was fortunate enough to travel to Mallorca recently for a golf trip, ahead of the October 4 changes, and commented on the process:
The pre-travel process was made easy with the completion of the UK NHS Covid pass application. This provides a QR code that is identified to you via medical records. I followed this with the completion of the Spain Travel Health app and it was a similar procedure. It generates unique QR codes which are produced and simply verified via a scanner at the customs barrier allowing healthy entry into the country.
The process was actually smoother than on my last trip to Spain as all passengers had arrived earlier and the checks were carried out without rush or worry. I found this process reassuring and non-intrusive. To return; a passenger locator form is required 48 hours prior to departure and a doctor validated swab was then married to travel intentions with an email providing the exact same information. Once again reassuring in complete safety.
Best travel advice: Make sure your phone is fully charged before you arrive at the airport, if all your QR codes are stored on the phone and it gets stuck, it makes the time difficult and stressful while sufficient charge is obtained .
Let us know if you travel and how you find it by commenting in the comments section below. Travel safely and enjoy your golf!