What are the new rules for travel between Sweden and the UK?

What are the new rules for travel between Sweden and the UK?
People in the arrivals area at Heathrow Airport in London in January 2021. Photo: AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Are people allowed to travel between Sweden and the UK? Do you have to be vaccinated? What do the UK's new travel rules actually mean? We've tried to answer some of these questions.

Are people in Sweden warned against travelling to the UK?

No (-ish). The Swedish Foreign Ministry’s advisory against non-essential travel was lifted for the UK and a series of other countries earlier this year. The advisory itself was never legally binding, but could have implications on the validity of travel insurance.

This does not mean travel to the UK is encouraged. Even if travelling to countries exempt from the warning, the Foreign Ministry advises making a risk assessment, reading up on local Covid-19 rules, and planning for the trip home well in advance.

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See also on The Local:

What are the new rules for travelling to the UK?

Prior to November 30th, vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK did not have to self-isolate, and could take the cheaper, quicker antigen or lateral flow tests upon arrival in the UK.

The UK government have now announced that, from November 30th, travellers will have to take a PCR test on or before day two, self-isolating until they receive a negative test result.

The Day 2 test must be ordered ahead of travel – without a booking reference, you cannot complete the Passenger Locator Form which is required to board all transport to the UK.

As the test can be taken on or before day two after arrival, travellers are also able to take it upon arrival in the UK.

Additionally, from 4am on December 7th onwards, all arrivals to the UK must take a pre-departure test in the two days prior to travel. These test can be PCR or antigen tests, and the new rules apply to all travellers, regardless of their vaccination status.

Everyone arriving from Sweden must also fill out a passenger locator form.

If you are not fully vaccinated, you will need to quarantine for 10 days and take another test on the eighth day.

Click the following links to read more about travelling to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – rules can vary depending on your destination.

Self-isolation can be done at home or at the address of family or friends. Only arrivals from red list countries – including South Africa – face hotel quarantine. You may not leave self-isolation until the test result arrives.

You are permitted to travel by public transport to get from your point of entry into the UK to the address where you will be quarantining

Tests can only be booked from the list of ‘government approved’ suppliers from this list and NHS tests cannot be used for this purpose.

There are three options for tests;

  • Home tests – these test packs are sent out to the address where you will be staying. You do the test at home and then post the sample to the lab, who email you the results when ready. There have been problems with test kits for some providers not arriving at the address given, while others take up to 10 days to email out the results – even for people who have paid extra for a quick-results service.
  • Test centre tests – this involves booking in advance at a test centre near where you will be staying – people self-isolating are permitted to leave the address and go to a test centre. It can be hard to find a test centre near you, especially if you are outside London. The test centre then posts off the sample to the lab and you wait for the results by email, again this can take several days to arrive. 
  • Airport tests – it is compulsory to have booked the Day 2 test in advance, but if you want to avoid long waits for results, many airports now offer PCR tests with rapid results, in around three hours in some cases. However, these are expensive, and likely to get more expensive in the coming days, as the UK government does not have any kind of price cap on testing. 

What counts as fully vaccinated?

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided by the Swedish vaccine pass/EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

Mixed doses (e.g. one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer) administered in the EU will also be considered valid.

However, people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK and will still have to quarantine.

Are people allowed to travel from the UK to Sweden?

Yes. Since October 11th, people who can present vaccination certificates from the UK have been exempted from both the entry ban and the requirement for a negative test on arrival to Sweden. 

What about driving to the UK from Sweden?

Make sure you read up on all countries’ rules along the way. The UK’s passenger locator form will ask you about all countries you have visited 10 days prior to arriving in the UK, which includes countries you have transited through.

In the other direction, Sweden does not have any restrictions on travel from the Nordic countries, including Denmark, however you will want to make sure that you read up on the various rules and entry restrictions in the countries you will be travelling through.

What else should I be aware of when travelling to Sweden?

From December 1st, all indoor events with over 100 attendees will require a vaccine pass. UK-issued proof of vaccination should technically be accepted, but be aware that individual event organisers may not be aware of this. Here is a link to the e-Health Agency’s website, stating that a UK vaccine pass should be accepted – it may be a good idea to have this on-hand just in case.

SEE ALSO: Which events require Sweden’s new vaccine pass?

Be aware that the rules can change quickly. Sweden’s infection and hospitalisation rates are currently low compared to previous levels, but some regions have been showing recent signs of an upturn in cases again. Here are a few websites you may find helpful:

KrisInformation is a service collecting information around crises from Swedish authorities, and has an English-language section dedicated to the pandemic.

The Public Health Agency publishes new figures regarding the number of cases, deaths, and intensive care patients Tuesday-Friday at 2pm. The Public Health Agency also publishes information about current health and safety recommendations, although the English-language section sometimes takes a while to update.

The Swedish Police Authority has a web page dedicated to frequently asked questions about Sweden’s entry restrictions. The Local has found this is usually up to date.

The above information was correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. Please be aware that we are not a government authority and cannot issue any guarantees about whether or not you will be able to travel to Sweden or the UK. We always advise readers to also consult the official information on the Swedish border police’s website and the UK government website before travelling.

If you have any questions, you are always welcome to contact our editorial team at [email protected]. We may not be able to reply to every email, and we cannot advise on individual cases, but we read all emails and use them to inform our future coverage.

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