United Kingdom Reopening to Canadian Travellers: What You Need to Know

This article was last updated on December 5, 2021, to reflect the new pre-departure and on-arrival testing and quarantine schemes.

Information may change on a day-by-day basis. While we make every effort to keep the information here updated, the responsibility to keep abreast of ever-changing travel restrictions is ultimately your own.

The COVID-19 Statistics tracker is updated in real time.

The UK has been more conservative in terms of reopening to foreign travellers during the pandemic, at least compared to its European neighbours. 

Canadians were first permitted entry to the United Kingdom without quarantine on August 30, 2021; rules have been changed multiple times since then, so keep an eye on this page for any updates.

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United Kingdom Travel Restrictions

Throughout the pandemic, the UK has been well-known for implementing a “traffic light” system, in which all countries are placed on “green”, “amber”, or “red” lists based on their COVID-19 data.

These days, the UK has loosened their restrictions significantly — there are none.

Westminster, London

How Can Canadians Enter the United Kingdom?

Travellers are allowed to enter the UK through all international airports, by train, and by sea, in the way of a cruise. As of October 2021, when departing Canada by air, travellers are required to present proof of vaccination.

All travellers may enter the UK just like pre-covid times, meaning no tests, no quarantine, and no forms.

Any upcoming changes are also announced on the UK Government website, where you can filter between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Testing & Quarantine Upon Return

As of April 1, 2022, a negative test is no longer required prior to travelling back to Canada.

If you do need to find a test, these should be easy enough to acquire in the United Kingdom, with tests conducted at nearly all medical clinics across the country. The easiest option might be simply doing it at the airport before departure, starting at £25 ($42).

Alternatively, consider purchasing a Switch Health RT-LAMP or antigen test kit for an easy remote testing option via telehealth video link.

Regent’s Canal, London

Current Health Requirements in the United Kingdom

Across England, Scotland, and Wales, the majority of restrictions have dropped and life is more or less back to normal.

In Northern Ireland, the vaccine passport requirement has been dropped and there are no other restrictions.

In Scotland, proof of vaccination is mandatory beginning October 1, 2021 (via either the NHS Scotland app or a paper copy of your vaccination record) in order to enter late night venues and large events.

Wales will have the same vaccination rules beginning October 11, 2021. Proof will be required via the NHS Covid Pass and will otherwise require a negative lateral flow COVID-19 test taken within the past 48 hours.

Otherwise, Scotland and Wales have largely done away with social distancing outside of healthcare settings; however, masks remain compulsory on public transportation and in indoor spaces such as shops.

While had England had re-introduced masking as a way to combat the omicron variant, the requirement has since been dropped.

St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London

How to Get to the United Kingdom

Pre-pandemic, airfare between Canada and the UK was fairly affordable at around the $700–800 range for a round-trip flight in economy class.

Those fares have largely returned on both Air Canada and British Airways for the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022, so a simple round-trip booking may be your best bet if you’re happy to fly in economy class.

If you want to travel in greater luxury, then the first loyalty program that comes to mind for most Canadians is Air Canada’s Aeroplan program, given the ease of earning and its favourable rates for long-haul travel.

Direct flights to London will cost 60,000 Aeroplan points from the East Coast and 70,000 Aeroplan points from the West Coast per person one-way in business class. Of course, the price can fluctuate due to the dynamic nature of Air Canada flights.

Alternatively, you can use British Airways Avios to fly Aer Lingus from either Toronto, Chicago, Boston, New York, Washington Dulles, or Seattle to Dublin. Flights from the former start from 50,000 Avios one-way in business class, while flights from Seattle will start from 62,500 Avios one-way in business class.

From Dublin, you can use more Avios to book a connecting flight into London or take a cheap Ryanair flight.

The reason to fly into Dublin instead of London is because direct flights on British Airways attract atrocious fuel surcharges. Furthermore, while this does incur a connection, it is not any more inconvenient from a COVID-19 perspective, as transit passengers from Dublin are not subject to additional testing requirements.

The British Airways website does not show Aer Lingus space, so use either ExpertFlyer, Avios.com, or the United Airlines website. I prefer ExpertFlyer, as United sometimes shows phantom award space.

If you’re an aspirational traveller looking to celebrate your first post-pandemic trip with some luxury flying, you could consider aiming for Lufthansa First Class from a US gateway airport via Frankfurt or Munich for 100,000 Aeroplan points.

Conclusion

The United Kingdom has greatly revamped their entry requirements due to the evolving omicron variant..

There will now be a pre-departure test that must be taken within 48 hours of departure as well as an on-arrival test-and-quarantine release scheme.

In terms of countries reopening to Canadian travellers, I myself am excited for this one. I’ve been on many a return trip since my study abroad in London, and I’m always looking forward to revisiting my favourite old haunts.

As always, you can refer to our Travel During COVID-19 Resource for Canadians for the most up-to-date information on travelling in the pandemic era.

 

 

9 Comments
  1. Heidi

    I just returned from a trip to England and Spain. Ten days in England then four days in Spain then another ten days in England. I had my vaccines and filled out all forms. On returning to England my sister, mother and I were all ‘pinged’. NHS test and trace system required that we fill in forms after coming into contact with someone on the plane. We immediately went and had a free PCR test then went home. My sister (a UK resident) was called by Test and Trace and was released both on the phone and by email. The next day the same thing happened for my mother (also a UK resident). But when I was called I was not released. I was told to isolate for ten days from contact. I was stunned and demanded to know why I was treated differently. I was told it was because I was vaccinated outside the UK and my vaccine could not be ‘validated’. I asked if this was just for Canada and was told that it was not and in fact it was most countries. I later called the covid hotline 119 and they confirmed this. She said that they were hoping to be able to validate vaccines by the end of November. Obviously not wanting to risk the heavy fine or jeopardize my return to Canada, I isolated. I was in the fortunate position of having accommodation for this to happen. My isolation ended at midnight the night before I returned home.
    I have been unable to find anything about the issue online and find it incredible that we are not hearing about hundreds of people having their holidays ruined. People are being ‘pinged’ all the time.

  2. DJR

    Ricky,

    Since the Republic of Ireland does not require testing either prior or upon arrival for fully vaccinated travelers, someone travelling from Toronto-Dublin would not require any testing whatsoever correct? If you were then to carry on from Dublin to London within 14 days of arrival in Ireland you would have to test upon arrival in London correct?

    It’s a little complex since Ireland and Northern Ireland have different requirements…

  3. Todd

    “The UK makes this fairly easy, with tests available at all airports” But are of no use to travelers to Canada since Canada doesn’t accept Rapid Antigen tests and a PCR test “results could take up to 48 hours to receive”.

    If you’re traveling to Canada from the UK, you really have no choice but to find a testing facility within the UK within 72 hours of your planned departure time.

  4. KathyG

    I have read not so recently that travel medical insurance may not provide coverage for Covid illness out of country. Do you have any new information on this?

  5. Leon yyc

    If you do the LH F flight, you’d be subject to Amber rules as US is on the Amber list.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Thanks for the heads up Leon, I’ve added a note on that.

  6. Alice Lawless

    People need to be reminded that the UK / EMA does not accept “mixed dose” or Astra Zeneca (Covishield) vaccinations.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Canadians don’t need proof of vaccination to enter as part of the green list. Even if proof of vaccination were required (such as in the case of arriving from or transiting an amber country), only UK, European, and US vaccines are currently being recognized.

  7. Dean

    Ricky,

    I am expecting that things will be different by the time I travel in March of 2022. But say they do not would it be necessary for me to fill out the locator form if I am just staying overnight then getting on the Queen Mary 2 the following day? Also I wish the Aeroplan miles are what you show for other cities would be that low for tickets in business class from Calgary. Currently for the trip to London from Calgary it is
    101900 points one way.

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