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Traveling to the U.K. from the U.S.? Everything you need to know.



This story has been updated.

In London, it’s not immediately obvious that the world is still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. In the halls of Borough Market, you’ll see maskless, smiling faces of patrons and shopkeepers back to business as usual. On the Tube, few masks, if any, make an appearance. At the airport, travelers can now enter the country without testing, quarantines or proof of vaccination.

“The city is full of life. The city is full of people,” says Jim Strong, president of Strong Travel Services, who recently returned from a trip to London.

A local’s guide to London

The United Kingdom lifted all remaining travel restrictions in March, after two years of complicated rules. In the wake of that change, here’s everything you need to know to get prepared for a trip to the U.K.

What to know about restrictions

Britain has removed all of its coronavirus travel restrictions. Visitors from any country are welcome, regardless of vaccination status, and no longer need to test before their trip or complete a U.K. passenger locator form before arriving.

Travelers are not required to mask on flights and public transportation, although the government does encourage doing so in crowded, enclosed spaces.

Travel experts, including Strong, say London is one of the most popular European destinations for travelers this year, so plan ahead in anticipation of competition.

“Now that the testing requirement to return to the U.S. has been removed, I think we’re going to see much more intense interest in traveling, not only to London, but to all of Europe,” Strong says.

If there are certain attractions you’d like to visit or restaurants you’d like to eat at, be sure to make reservations.

“If you are going to the London, you must — in our opinion — do everything possible to have things prearranged, such as cars and drivers, restaurant reservations, entrance into certain sites,” Strong says.

Many attractions have ended limited-entry policies, making it more convenient to visit, but some remain.

“Everything is operating as it was pre-covid, however, sometimes at a diminished level,” Strong says, noting that he has seen London hotels and restaurants not operating at full capacity or limiting reservations because of staffing issues.

Richard Cooke, general manager of the Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, recommends that travelers talk to the concierge at their hotel and get a few reservations on the books, whether you’re hoping to tour the Macallan Distillery in Speyside or go to a football match.

“We have a bar with over 500 single malts,” Cooke says. “It’s been busier than ever with guests trying things they’ve never tried before or seeking to understand differing nuances. It’s a thirst for knowledge.”

Where to get a coronavirus test

It is no longer required to test before returning to the United States. If you’d still like to test, you can pack a self-test or find them for purchase from U.K. shops and pharmacies. You may be able to have one arranged at your hotel, but if that’s not the case, you can make an appointment at a pharmacy near you. The U.S. Embassy in the U.K. has a list of local labs to find tests. Testing is also available at Heathrow Airport.

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