Over the past few weeks, COVID restrictions have started to be lifted across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – which has included a relaxing on travel limitations. With the Government’s new traffic light system in place, more countries are opening up to UK travellers for traditional holidays as well as business travel. And one of the most eagerly anticipated routes in world travel is from the UK to the USA, which represents a massive economic opportunity for both the tourist industry as well as the business travel industry. But with restrictions still being enforced across the Atlantic, what is the current state of travel between the UK and US, and when can people start flying again? In this latest article, we look at everything you need to know about the route, so you can make more informed decisions about your travel plans.
Despite a successful vaccination rollout, it is still not possible for many British passport holders to travel to the United States. Indeed, if a traveller has been in the UK or Ireland in the past 14 days, they are unable to enter the United States directly and must instead find alternative routes. This means, for business travellers and holidaymakers seeking entry into the US, they must first travel to a country that is on the USA’s ‘green list’ (such as Canada or Mexico) and quarantine for 14 days before seeking entry into the United States. Attempting to enter before the 14 day period is up or not accurately declaring when you were last in the UK could lead to permanent expulsion from the country!
However, there are some conditions in which UK citizens can gain entry to the US without travelling to a neighbouring country and without the 14-day quarantine. For example, if you are a US citizen or a permanent resident, and if you are a close family member (restrictions apply), you may be granted access to the country. Similarly, if you travel on a special visa – such as a diplomatic visa – you will be allowed in without the measures listed above.
If all of these conditions are met, you will still need to supply a negative PCR test to gain entry into the country. This must have been taken no more than 72 hours before the arrival date in order to be considered valid. If you can’t supply a negative test prior to travel, you will need to do so on arrival.
Similarly, upon your return to the UK, you will need to supply a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival, as well as complete the government’s passenger locator form. If you’re unsure of what visa you may need to enter the United States, or to check if you can apply for an ESTA (a visa waiver programme), you can do so quickly and easily here.
Currently, UK nationals coming from the US do not need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. Similarly, US citizens that are vaccinated will be able to travel to the UK (as well as the rest of Europe) without the need for a quarantine period.
This recent cooperation between the US, Europe and the UK has led to speculation that a fully-fledged travel corridor could be established between the UK and the United States. However, this is far from confirmed, and is likely to rest on the continued success of each nation’s vaccine rollout, as well as how infection rates look over the next few weeks. To stay up-to-date on the latest business travel information, including the implementation of new travel corridors, be sure to get in touch with one of our experts.
Despite the law on face coverings being lifted in the UK post-July 19th, it is still recommended that travellers wear face masks on flights. This may also be enforced by specific airlines, subject to their own rules. Similarly, The United States is currently enforcing face coverings on all domestic and international flights – so if you’re looking to travel to the US for business or pleasure, you will need to ensure you are vaccinated, test negative for COVID, and have a suitable face covering for the journey.
With current restrictions being what they are, the future of business travel between the US and UK is uncertain. But as the relationship between the two nations represents a massive economic opportunity for the post-COVID recovery, we expect it to be a priority once all restrictions are lifted on travel.
One of the positive initiatives being put forward by US airlines is to enhance their schedules into Q4 of 2021, with more flights being made available throughout October for UK passengers. This means more links will be made available from London Heathrow to New York, Seattle and Detroit – to name a few – so when travel is given the green lights, businesses will be able to take advantage.
In the meantime, for important business affairs, we are working closely with the government, our partners and our clients to stay informed and to create unique travel options – ensuring that business can continue as close to normal as possible!
One thing we do know is that when business travel does finally return, our team of experts will be on-hand to offer industry-leading advice and guidance to ensure you get the best deals and the best service. We strive to give you 100% clarity, from start to finish, assisting you in every aspect of your travel planning. Our team of travel management experts are always on-hand to help, taking the stress off your business’ internal processes and ensuring your people can travel with confidence.
For more information on our business travel services, or to speak with a team member, be sure to get in touch.