A Comprehensive Guide for Indian Students

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has become a global cause of concern, resulting in ever-changing travel rules that have impacted the lives of international students, professionals and families around the world.

The UK is one such destination that has regularly changed its travel rules, including regarding self-isolation for booking COVID-19 arrival tests. Because of this, it is not uncommon for Indian students to question whether their trip to the UK is affected by this.

Despite this, it is generally a good time for Indian students to consider a UK degree. Recent reports have revealed that the UK plans to relax immigration restrictions for Indian citizens, making it easier for them to stay and work in the country after graduation. In addition, the UK has recently relaxed many of its rules for inbound travelers.

Here’s an update on everything Indian students need to know about traveling to the UK.

Pre-departure tests are no longer necessary

International travelers are not required to take a COVID-19 test before flying, but must complete one arrival. Source: Adrian Dennis/AFP

The UK has eased some travel restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers and those under 18, eliminating the need for a pre-departure test and self-isolation on arrival.

This has significantly eased the burden on many travelers as booking pre-departure tests can be extremely expensive.

Fully vaccinated passengers are still required to: fill in and send online form for locating passengers at least 48 hours before their departing flight to the UK and take a test on or before day two of their arrival.

Self-isolation is no longer mandatory for travel to the UK

Fully vaccinated students no longer need to self-isolate while waiting for their results.

From 9 January 2022, eligible fully vaccinated travelers over 5 years of age will be able to undergo a lateral flow test (LFT) in lieu of a PCR on or before day two of their arrival in England. Travel sidestream tests can be booked from January 7, 2022 and taken on arrival, at the end of day two.

Students who choose to take an LFT and get a positive result should self-isolate and get an extra NHS PCR Test to confirm this. Those with a positive PCR test should self-isolate for 10 days. The day students received their positive result would be counted as day 0.

The NHS states that travelers can stop self-isolating if they do an LFT on the sixth and seventh days of their quarantine period, and:

  • Both tests are negative
  • Travelers took both tests at least 24 hours apart, and
  • Travelers do not have a high temperature

Those who choose to stop self-isolating before the recommended 10-day period should take precautions to ensure they don’t infect others. This includes wearing a face mask, practicing social distancing and avoiding interacting with vulnerable groups. More details on how to obtain positive COVID-19 test results can be obtained here.

Unvaccinated Indians arriving in the UK must self-isolate for a full 10-day period regardless of whether their COVID-19 test is negative. Source: Adrian Dennis/AFP

Guidelines for Unvaccinated Indians

Unvaccinated Indian students can expect some more restrictions but are still allowed to travel to the UK. Currently they are required to:

All unvaccinated travelers to the UK are required to adhere to the country’s home quarantine rules for 10 full days. A traveler’s arrival day counts as day 0.

Indian travelers will also be required to take an additional PCR test on day 8 of their home quarantine. They will still have to self-isolate for the full 10 days, regardless of whether their test result is negative. Those with a positive test result will have to self-isolate for another 10 days.

Where can I quarantine?

When entering the UK, travelers are required to provide an address where they will be remain on the passenger location form. This can be a rented temporary address, with friends or family, or in a standard hotel or other temporary accommodation.

Travelers should also make sure they have food and other supplies delivered to them as they cannot change their location upon arrival at the address.

The British government notes that travelers must go directly to their place of residence on arrival in the country to be quarantined. They should also avoid using public transport, unless necessary. Students can read the government safe travel guide during the pandemic and Please check the UK Government website regularly for possible changes to UK travel rules.

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