Some expats vaccinated outside UK will no longer need to quarantine when returning to UK

by Deborah Cater
Fully vaccinated ex-pats hopeful about UK change in quarantine rule

UK Vaccines Minister says government will recognise UK-authorised jabs given overseas from next month. Ex-pats who are still registered with a UK doctor will be able to avoid quarantine from some point in August.

British citizens, vaccinated overseas, arriving from green or amber list countries currently have to isolate for 10 days.

However, some British ex-pats will soon be able to travel to the UK more easily. The government is preparing to recognise jabs administered overseas.

Currently, only vaccinations given by the NHS are a way to avoid quarantine when entering from countries on the UK’s green or amber lists.

Future plans

Britons living abroad will no longer need to isolate for up to 10 days when the new rules come into force. It is believed that will be some time in August.

Those who have had both jabs outside the UK, but are registered with a UK GP, will be able to apply to register these with the NHS. However, they must be NHS approved vaccines, i.e. Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech or Janssen.

The vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, signalled the move in a response during a Commons debate last week. “By the end of this month, UK nationals who have been vaccinated overseas will be able to talk to their GP, go through what vaccine they have had, and have it registered with the NHS that they have been vaccinated.”

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Zahawi said the more long-term goal is of coordinating a commonly agreed vaccine standard with the World Health Organization.  And also with medicines’ regulators in the US and EU.

There were hints all double-vaccinated travellers from abroad – with a jab authorised in the UK – could avoid quarantine. He said, “We want to offer the same reciprocity as the 33 countries that recognise our [NHS] app, and that will also happen very soon.”

The change is expected to be announced later this week.

Downside to initial step for ex-pats

The downside to the predicted first phase is the NHS GP system is residency-based. Therefore, it is unlikely to satisfy the millions of Britons living abroad.

Chris Goater, a spokesperson for the International Air Transport Association, said it was good news. The UK appeared to be on the verge of “showing overdue recognition of vaccinated visitors”. However, he added it made no sense to restrict it to those with a UK GP. “Approved vaccines should be recognised as soon as possible not just for those from Europe but also on the crucial transatlantic routes, to help to put the UK aviation industry back on its feet.”

The next update to the UK red, amber and green lists is not expected to happen until 5 August.

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