After 3 long years, we finally booked a trip to visit our family in the UK! Previously, we were not able to come here due to corona virus pandemic lockdowns that started in March 2020.
We previously tried to book flights to come home last Christmas 2020, but we had to cancel it as Canada had implemented a mandatory hotel quarantine stay that would have cost us an extra $2000.
At the end of August 2021, it was finally announced that Canada had moved to the amber list to the UKs green travel list and we did not need to quarantine anymore or take Day 8 test. This also meant, since we both have been double vaccinated this summer, we were able to now travel.
After we booked out flights with WestJet from Toronto to London, Gatwick. We then had to research what other requirement we had to fulfil to get safely into England
If you are fully vaccinated
After you arrive in England you must take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2.
This applies if you’re fully vaccinated under either:
- the UK vaccination programme
- the UK vaccine programme overseas
- an approved vaccination programme in Europe or the USA – not all are recognized in England
If you are not fully vaccinated
If you do not qualify under the fully vaccinated rules, on arrival in England you must:
- quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days
- take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8
Before travel to England
Before you travel to England you must:
- take a COVID-19 test – you must take the test in the 3 days before you travel to England
- book and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 test – to be taken after arrival in England
- complete a passenger locator form
To travel to England right now (Sept 2021) you need to book a COVID test no longer than 48 hours before your flight. The COVID test we booked needed to be a specific travel test. The specific test we needed was called RT-PCR Testing. Not the Asymptomatic Rapid Antigen Screening that costs only $40 one from Shoppers Drug Mart. We did some research and found out that Shopper Drug Mart did have the proper test we needed, but it cost $199 + tax. We continued our research and found a Covid 19 Travel test in Missassauga at Britlin Medical Pharmacy You get your results in 24-48 hours. It was $120 + HST, and came to a total of $135 each. We received our test results the next morning, less than 24 hours after we did our test. The results came through email and we printed these out.
After we did our pre-travel covid tests, we then had to order or book a Day 2 covid test to do at home or in person when we arrived in the UK. These tests we found here (to know they are government approved) and had them shipped to my husbands mothers house. We shopped around the site to find the best price. Prices ranged from £69 – £80. The company we chose was 001 Expert Covid Testing. UK, and we paid £55 each. For two is was £139.98. With tax this was approximately £69.99, about $122.50 each or $245 CAD for two Day 2 Covid Tests.
48 hours before our flight, we had to fill out a passenger locator form.
What important information did we have to submit in the passenger locator form?
- the address we were staying for the first 10 days of our trip
- passport informaton
- flight information & seat number
- a phone number you can be contacted in the UK (you have the choice of being called, texted or both)
- the reference number from our Day 2 test. (I highly recommend completing this form before you get to the airport as we noticed many people who had to get out of line and not be able to check in to their flights until this was done.)
What did the WestJet agents at the airport need to verify when we checked in?
- our passports
- our negative covid 19 test results
- our passenger locator form
We also found out that many people did not do the COVID test prior , didn’t book the right test or they didn’t book the day 2 and were not able to come on our flight. Right before take off they let us know that they were removing baggage from our flight of those people who couldn’t make it.
When we arrived in England
When we landed in the UK, it was the easiest entry into the UK that I have ever experienced. I was able to go through the same area that citizens of the UK could go through. (Usually I would be sent to a different area because I am Canadian but they now have them lumped in.
We did not have to speak with an immigration agent and we didn’t even have to do an immigration card upon landing. All we did was stand in an area where we had our passport and face scanned and then we were clear to grab our luggage and leave.
In conclusion, pre-travel was a pretty stressful experience. Since we previously did not know anyone else who had travelled internationally or who had been to the UK recently, we had to do a lot of research on our own. WestJet as well as pharmacies did not have the answers to a lot of our questions. We relied heavily on information from the Government of UK website.
It also was a lot of extra money on top of our flights we had to pay. Our flights were $720.02 each. Our tests in total were $260 CAD each. All in, we spent approximately $980.02 each to travel from Canada to the UK.
Upcoming Travel Changes
As of now, it was announced that on October 4th, 2021 that there will be a new system for International Travellers coming into the UK. They will be implementing “simpler, cheaper rules for fully vaccinated travellers coming from non-red list countries – fully vaccinated passengers will be able to replace day 2 PCR tests with cheaper lateral flow tests – from the end of October – and no longer need to take pre-departure tests (PDTs)”.
This is a frustrating change as we just spent so much money on tests to get here. However, the past few years have been extremely hard not being able to leave the country to see our family and friends in England. At the end of the day, nothing truly can compare to finally be lucky enough to safely travel during the pandemic from Canada to the UK.