Fully-vaccinated Americans and Europeans hoping to vacation in Britain just got some good news: Last week, England reopened its borders to fully-vaccinated American and European travelers and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland followed suit. This means it’s time to get ready for your UK adventure!
As much as you should be excited about your travels, you should also be prepared for the unexpected. We’ll walk you through exactly how to be prepared, so all you have to worry about is how you’ll find enough time to fit in all the sights that the UK has to offer!
Travel insurance is your first defense against the unexpected
While travel insurance is not required to enter the UK, it’s strongly recommended, even for fully-vaccinated travelers. Vaccines prove to be effective even against the new Covid variants, but breakthrough cases have been reported and a very small percentage of these cases have led to hospitalizations. So, you should still practice social distancing and other Covid-safety protocols during your vacation.
But Covid isn’t the only reason to consider buying travel insurance for the UK. As you tour the UK, anything can happen, from a car accident to a sudden illness to a slip and fall. Any one of these could result in needing medical attention. The NHS may cover British citizens, but it won’t cover foreign tourists, so purchasing travel insurance is strongly recommended. Without it, you could face crushing medical debt.
Even if you’re visiting as a citizen of the EU and have a valid EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), you’ll still want to consider buying travel insurance. An EHIC issued from your home country ensures that you will receive medical attention should you fall ill or have a medical emergency while in the UK. It will even cover your pre-existing medical conditions or maternity care, provided your reason for visiting is not related to any medical needs. But it won’t cover you if you require emergency medical evacuation, seek private healthcare, have your property stolen, or need to cancel your plans suddenly. You’ll need travel insurance to do all that.
UK entry requirements for foreign visitors
First, you must be fully vaccinated to enter the country. This doesn’t just mean that you have the required Covid shots. It also means that you’ve waited two weeks after your final required Covid shot before departing your country. Be sure your Vaccination Record Card includes the dates of each of your required doses.
While the mandatory quarantine requirement has been dropped for fully-vaccinated foreigners, you’ll still be held to certain COVID-19 screening protocols. Specifically, you’ll need to take a pre-departure Covid test with a negative result, and another test upon arrival in the UK. This second test must be taken by the second day of your trip. And it also must produce a negative result.
Vaccinated Americans must also show proof of U.S. residency and complete a passenger locator form. Also, remember that as of January, the United States requires all returning travelers to show proof of a negative test result for a test taken no earlier than three days before boarding your return flight.
Find out more about the travel and entry requirements for the UK.
Digital Vaccine Certificates & Proof of Vaccination Cards
Prior to reopening to tourists, the UK announced that venues such as concert halls, theaters and pubs will require proof of vaccination for entry. This means that not only will you need to show proof of vaccination to enter the UK, but also you’ll need it to enjoy some of the main attractions.
If you’re an EU resident, you can use a Digital Vaccine Certificate. This is a digital record of your Covid vaccinations, which means you don’t have to worry about keeping a paper copy with your personal items. In the coming months, this technology may be available to all travelers. Right now, however, it’s only available to EU residents. Read more about Digital Vaccine Certificates.
For other Europeans and Americans, you’ll need to show your valid Vaccination Record Card.
International cruising returns to England
Following the UK’s grand reopening, cruisers received even more welcomed news. The British Isles ports are officially open to international cruise ships. You can expect some changes, however. It’s likely that there will be strict covid-safety protocols aboard the ship, and there may be fewer excursion options. Remember, too, that medical resources aboard ships are limited. Should you contract COVID-19 or any other illness or injury that requires significant medical care, you may need to be airlifted to a nearby hospital. Insurance offered by the cruise line won’t cover emergency medical evacuations. Not to mention, the airlift alone can cost thousands of dollars. But if you buy cruise insurance, you’ll be covered for this and other treatment the on-board medical staff can’t provide. Additionally, cruise insurance will help you reconnect with your ship if you miss a departure.
Whether you’re looking to experience the UK by land or by sea, you’ll find so much to experience. Taking precautions like ensuring that you have the right documentation for entry, and buying the right travel insurance coverage before you leave your home country, will give you all the peace of mind and confidence you’ll need to enjoy your long-awaited British holiday.
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