Heathrow and Gatwick: Lateral flows to replace PCR tests for foreign travel

Lateral flow tests are set to replace PCR tests for vaccinated travellers returning after foreign travel from next Sunday, the government has confirmed.

Fully vaccinated travellers entering England from non-red list countries will be able to take a lateral flow test on day two instead of a PCR test in a bid to make travel cheaper for families ahead of the October half term.

The change will come into effect on October 24 and passengers will be able to buy the tests from October 22.

READ MORE: Heathrow and Gatwick: Full list of prices for LFTs and PCR tests for major airlines and airports

Passengers will need to take photos of their lateral flow test result and order reference and send them back to the testing company for verification.

Travellers will not be able to use the lateral flow tests provided by the NHS for this.

There will also be the option for passengers to take lateral flow tests upon arrival at some airports.

Travellers will have take a photo of their test and booking reference, and send this to the private test provider to verify the results

Announcing the change, Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid: “We want to make going abroad easier and cheaper, whether you’re travelling for work or visiting friends and family.

“Lateral flow tests will be available later this month for those returning from half term holidays.”

Speaking yesterday, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps added: “Today’s rule changes will make testing on arrival simpler and cheaper for people across the country who are looking forward to well-earned breaks for this October half term.

“Taking away expensive mandatory PCR testing will boost the travel industry and is a major step forward in normalising international travel and encouraging people to book holidays with confidence.”

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Any traveller who tests positive when taking a lateral flow test will need to self-isolate and take an additional PCR test to confirm their diagnosis.

As normal, those PCR tests can be accessed for free through NHS Test and Trace.

This planned change does not apply to passengers returning from a non-red list destination who are not fully vaccinated.

They must still take a pre-departure test, a PCR test on day two and day eight, as well as complete ten days of self-isolation.

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