Travel to UK: Covid recovered plus single dose still not considered ‘fully vaccinated’

Travellers to the UK who have recovered from Covid-19 before receiving a single dose of a vaccine are still not considered fully vaccinated by the British government and therefor continue to face quarantine after arrival.

A UK border sign welcomes passengers, but those who have recovered from Covid still face quarantine.
A UK border sign welcomes passengers, but those who have recovered from Covid still face quarantine. Photo by Ben FATHERS / AFP

The UK changed its much-criticised Covid border rules on Monday October 4th.

While the government finally accepted that those with mixed doses of two Covid-19 vaccines – such as Astra-Zeneca and Pfizer – will now be considered fully vaccinated, the same was not so clear for those who have recovered from the disease.

In recent days The Local has received many messages from readers wondering if the policy had changed because the text on the government’s website had been updated and no longer contained any explicit mention that those who received one dose after recovering from Covid were not considered fully vaccinated.

But a spokesperson for the Department of Transport confirmed to The Local on Tuesday that there had been no change in policy regarding those travellers who had recovered from Covid.

The government’s “background info” for the new travel rules state: 

  • “There has been no change to the UK’s policy regarding natural immunity. Individuals must be fully vaccinated (plus 14 days) to qualify under the fully vaccinated rules for travel to England, irrespective of proof of recent recovery from COVID-19.
  • Fully vaccinated means that you have had a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in England. The day you had your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days. The vaccine must be administered under either: the UK vaccination programme or an approved overseas vaccination programme in a listed country. See further info on here.
  • The government will continue to assess the risk posed by people with natural immunity as we review the health measures in place and look at whether there is evidence to support any measures being eased.

In many European countries those who had Covid were only advised to get one dose of a vaccine. In these countries that is considered as fully vaccinated for the purposes of travel.

The UK policy has effectively meant thousands of “fully vaccinated” travellers from Europe have faced having to quarantine for 10 days in the UK.

This has forced many to seek out a second dose of the vaccine while others have reportedly lied on the “passenger locator form”, needed for entry into the UK by saying they had received two doses. Anyone found to have lied on their passenger locator form faces a hefty fine, however.

The EU’s Covid vaccination certificates normally only contain the date of the final injection.

Reader question: I received a single vaccine dose after recovering from Covid – what are my travel options?

Member comments

  1. Word of Warning! Anyone who has been double vaccinated in Germany and travelling to the UK should switch of the “Location” function on their smartphone!!!
    If you are double vaccinated in Germany, this will be fine to get you into the country BUT the information supplied on the Passenger Locator form will be used to enrol you in the UK NHS Track and Trace system (without your permission)
    I was pinged on a week’s trip to the UK, 2 days before I was due to fly back to Germany.
    People who are double vaccinated in the UK by the NHS are exempt from 10 days self-isolation. If you are double vaccinated in Germany (with exactly the same vaccine e.g BionTech/Pfizer) this is not recognized and you are legally obliged to self-isolate!!!
    I had to break the law (and risk a minimum GBP 1,000 fine, as well as being pulled off my plane) in order to get home to Germany where, of course, the Authorities were very happy to let me in with my Impfpass

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EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Two major changes that were due to come into force in 2022 for travellers entering the EU - an enhanced passport scanning system and the introduction of a €7 visa for tourists - have been delayed for a year.

EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Although both the EES and ETIAS schemes are still due to be introduced in the European Commission has pushed back the start dates for both until 2023.

It comes amid a chaotic summer for travel in Europe, with airports struggling with staff shortages and strikes while some crossings from the UK to France have been hit by long delays as extra post-Brexit checks are performed during the peak holiday season. 

The two separate changes to travel in the EU and Schengen zone were originally due to come into effect in 2020, but were delayed because of the pandemic. Now the EES system is expected to come into effect in May 2023, while ETIAS will come into effect in November 2023. 

The EES – Entry and Exit System – is essentially enhanced passport scanning at the EU’s borders and means passports will not only be checked for ID and security, but also for entry and exit dates, in effect tightening up enforcement of the ’90 day rule’ that limits the amount of time non-EU citizens can spend in the Bloc without having a visa.

It will not affect non-EU citizens who live in an EU country with a residency permit or visa.

There have been concerns that the longer checks will make transiting the EU’s external borders slower, a particular problem at the UK port of Dover, where the infrastructure is already struggling to cope with enhanced post-Brexit checks of people travelling to France.

You can read a full explanation of EES, what it is and who is affects HERE.

The ETIAS system will apply to all non-EU visitors to an EU country – eg tourists, second-home owners, those making family visits and people doing short-term work.

It will involve visitors registering in advance for a visa and paying a €7 fee. The visa will be valid for three years and can be used for multiple trips – essentially the system is very similar to the ESTA visa required for visitors to the USA. 

Residents of an EU country who have a residency card or visa will not need one.

You can read the full details on ETIAS, how it works and who it affects HERE.

Both systems will apply only to people who do not have citizenship of an EU country – for example Brits, Americans, Australians and Canadians – and will be used only at external EU/Schengen borders, so it won’t be required when travelling between France and Germany, for example.