Holidaymakers arriving back in England from non-red list countries can use a lateral flow test rather than the more expensive PCR version from today.
In what the government is hailing a “huge boost” for the travel industry, from 4am on Sunday people can now use a lateral flow test on or before day two of their return.
Lateral flow tests for international travel must be purchased from a private provider as NHS Test and Trace lateral flow tests cannot be used for international travel.
Bookings for lateral flow tests opened on Friday and can be purchased through the private providers listed on GOV.UK.
As of Saturday afternoon, there were 25 providers on the Government website and prices ranged from £19 to £39.
The government said passengers must send a photo of their test result to the private provider, adding that failure to do so could result in a fine of £1,000.
People who test positive will need to take a free NHS confirmatory PCR test and isolate.
Anyone travelling on to Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Island or the Isle of Man in the 10 days after arrival in England, must follow the rules for testing and quarantine in those places.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I’m delighted that from today eligible travellers to England, who’ve had the life-saving Covid-19 vaccine can benefit from a cheaper lateral flow test, providing faster results.
“This huge boost to the travel industry and the public will make it easier and cheaper for people to book holidays and travel abroad, and it is because of our incredible vaccine programme that this is possible.
“Anyone who tests positive must take a PCR test, which, if positive, may be genomically sequenced to check for variants and further help us fight this virus.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said: “The change in rules for post-arrival tests will give passengers more options and faster results, just in time for many half-term holidays.
“It’s thanks to the success of our vaccination programme that we can make this switch, giving the industry and consumers a much-needed boost.”
Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “Testing and self-isolating if you are positive remain crucial steps to managing the pandemic and stopping the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
“It is also critical that those who have positive Lateral Flow Tests when returning to England go on to get this checked through a NHS Test & Trace PCR.
“This way we can continue to monitor new variants and stay on top of the virus.”