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Heathrow Covid Layover Help Needed!!

Hello and thanks for your help!! So I've talked to two different airlines, several hotels and poured over all the websites.... it's about 50/50. If I have a layover at Heathrow and the connecting flight is the NEXT day... can I pass through immigration with a negative covid test and stay at a hotel, then come back the following day?? I know that some info says you have to stay airside... some say you can go landside if connection is next day. I can't see how they can say you have to stay the night in an airport armchair. Sleep apnea risks for one!?? Anybody with real experience on this please?? Thanks in advance! Ryan

Posted by
7486 posts

When is the travel happening? If more than a few weeks out, "today's" answer may not apply.

Coming from where? Vaccination status?

Posted by
12219 posts

And what is your destination country? You need to know their rules as well. Italy, for example, requires you to self-isolate for 5 days upon arrival if you have had a layover at Heathrow, even if you stay airside.

What airline(s) are you flying, and can you get them to change to a flight with a same-day connection?

Posted by
19 posts

Coming from Germany (green)...1 day layover with British Airways... then on to u.s. Fully vaccinated. The problem is we really really don't want to sleep at the airport and we keep getting mixed messages about 'landside'.

Posted by
9814 posts

Yes, you can do what you want to do. At least as of today:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-amber-and-green-list-rules-for-entering-england#green-list-rules

These are the important points:

Before you travel to England you must:

take a COVID-19 test – you must take the test in the 3 days before you travel to England;

book and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 test – to be taken after arrival in England;

complete a passenger locator form

Why book and pay for a day 2 test when you will only be there one day? It says this:

If you will be in England for less than 2 days you still need to book and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 test. You only need to take the test if you are still in England on day 2.

You will be entering England. As long as you want to go landside, you have to follow the landside rules.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks so much for the help? So do I book and pay for the Day 2 test when I arrive at Heathrow on Day 1? Also, I presume the passenger form can be filled out right before I go thru immigration and hopefully to the hotel. :) Thanks again!

Posted by
89 posts

You have to book and pay for the test before you arrive in the UK as you have to put the booking reference on the locator form.

Posted by
89 posts

Also the locator form needs to be completed before you get on the plane as it is likely to be checked at check in or at the gate rather than at Heathrow.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks Amanda! I'm currently waiting on BA to verify my travel documents for the covid test. Everything is on the document except the name and address of who ordered the test...ugh...I hope they use some common sense and understand were doing the best we can. Travel through UK has become extremely stressful.

Posted by
19 posts

Ok, wait a sec. If I get tested prior to entering the UK within 72 hours, I have to get another test at the airport for my transit? Where do you book this and where do you pick it up or compete the test at the airport?

Posted by
19 posts

Also, I talked to someone at a hotel by Heathrow and they said you could just test at the airport? Why do I need to "book" this test in advance? Anyone who's done this, any advice is greatly appreciated.

Posted by
25772 posts

Why do I need to "book" this test in advance?

because that is the law

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks Nigel for that insight. Have any advice on where to book this in advance and where to pick it up at the airport??

Posted by
9814 posts

I made a mistake on my previous posting.

Prior to your trip to the UK, you must take a Covid test (in Germany) AND book and pay for a Day 2 test in the UK. (You don't necessarily have to take that day 2 test but it must be booked before you arrive.)

If you take the test no more than three days before your trip to the USA, that one test you took in Germany may be the only test you have to take. (Example, if your flight to the USA is on a Thursday, you can take the test anytime Monday or after. (Considering you are flying to the UK on Wednesday--in this example.)

Upon arriving in the UK, you show your negative test to immigration and your receipt for the Day 2 test. You should then be good to go.

To book your Day 2 test, here is a locator to help you find somewhere.

https://www.gov.uk/find-travel-test-provider

Posted by
19 posts

So you're saying my German test within 72 hrs will allow me to go 'landside' as long as i pay for and book the Day 2 test at Heathrow even if I don't take it? Thanks again...I just want to make sure the airport is going to let me back in with that German test along with the Day 2 receipt when I come back the following day.

Posted by
9814 posts

Not complicated. You are making this more complicated than it needs to be. Once again.....

This is what you need to do to "enter" the UK...THAT IS THE SAME AS LANDSIDE.

1) Take a Covid test in Germany. Do this no more than three days prior to your trip back to the USA. You will get results probably by email.

2) Book and prepay for a "Day 2" test in the UK prior to your arrival in the UK. (It doesn't have to be at Heathrow. It can be anywere offering the test.)

3) Before boarding your flight to the UK, you will probably be asked to show your test results (from Germany) and your receipt for your Day 2 test. (This is done by the airline, not the airport.)

4) Upon arrival in the UK, you will probably be asked to show your results from your German covid test and your receipt for your day 2 test--or--it may all be on your the form you filled out prior to your trip.

5) After all this you will be allowed to go "landside."

The airport is not going to stop you from re-entering. (They don't care.) For your flight to the USA, you will have to show your results from the Germany test to the airline. They couldn't care less about your Day 2 test receipt if you're flying out of the UK.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks...I think the confusion for the people in transit is like this: If I get a test in Germany 24 hrs before I arrive in the UK for transit, why do I need to book and pay for another test? Especially if your connecting flight is within 24 hrs?? Seems like a money grab. I get the reason why you need the test if you're staying in the UK, but for transit? Especially after getting a test 24 hrs prior to let you board that flight? Crazy. Btw, if Heathrow or the UK websites would have just explained this 'double test' system the way you did, it could have saved me a lot of time. At the moment, I have a negative test to fly to UK from US tomorrow (en route to Germany), but the only piece of required info missing is the name and contact details of the provider. Hopefully British Airways approves the documents I uploaded with all the other required info... they're basically threatening to cancel my flight if I don't have the contact details included. Best part is... this is only for the 'transit' portion of my flight....Germany doesn't even require a negative test!! Good God, UK.

Posted by
9814 posts

As Nigel stated.....the reason you have to book and pay for the Day 2 test is because you are entering the UK. It doesn't matter if it is for one day or 10 years....you are entering the UK. They want to make sure you haven't contracted Covid between your test to enter the UK and your arrival. That's the reason for the Day 2 test. It's the law.

If you are just connecting, and staying airside, you wouldn't have to book and pay for the Day 2 test.

By the way, if you go "landside," you are not considered in transit. You are considered a visitor.

Posted by
19 posts

According to the UK websites, 'landside' is transiting. I'm not going to copy and paste it, but they define transiting as airside or landside. And if your rationale holds true, I will need to complete the Day 2 test and get the results before they let me go 'landside'. Otherwise, this still doesn't make sense to get two tests while in transit.

Posted by
4763 posts

Frank corrected himself once - the other explanations are because you didn’t understand his answer.

Requirements can change quickly - all the advice above could be out of date by tomorrow!

Posted by
25772 posts

Too much arguing back and forth. The answers, if you look in the right place, are actually pretty well written and pretty clear (at least to me).

Ryan, my answer remains. You have to do what you have to do because it is the law. You will be in the UK so for the duration of that time you have to comply with UK law.

Saying you don't want to, or that it costs too much, or that it is unnecessary, or that incomplete documents should be ok may be valid, but if you don't comply you may not get home without a lot of hassle.

The first question: is Germany (and US) the only country you have been in within the last 10 days? If so, then you are arriving in the UK from a Green List country and you should follow the Green protocol. If not, you need to check the lists of Green/Amber/Red and follow the most restrictive protocol. Is Germany the only country?

You need to follow the requirements simultaneously of at least 3 countries - Germany, the UK and the US.

The UK regulations are at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-amber-and-green-list-rules-for-entering-england

For folks who'd rather see what that UK Government website says (the bold on your particular questions is mine):

Green list rules

What you have to do if you travel to England from a
country or territory on the green list. You must only have been in or
travelled through a green list country or the UK, Ireland, the Channel
Islands or the Isle of Man in the previous 10 days.

You must follow these rules even if you have been fully vaccinated.

You can read separate guidance on what you need to do if you are
travelling abroad from England.

Before travel to England

Before you travel to England you must:

take a COVID-19 test – you must take the test in the 3 days before you
travel to England

book and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 test – to be taken
after arrival in England

complete a passenger locator form

When you arrive in England

After you arrive in England you must take a COVID-19
test on or before day 2.**

You do not need to quarantine unless the test result is positive.

If you will be in England for less than 2 days you still need to book
and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 test. You only need to take the test if
you are still in England on day 2.

You may need to self-isolate if NHS Test and Trace notifies you that
you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for
COVID-19. Check the rules about NHS Test and Trace for more
information.

If you have been in a country or territory on the red or amber list If
you have also been in or through a country or territory on the red
list in the 10 days before you arrive in England, you must follow the
red list rules.

If you have also been in or through a country or territory on the
amber list in the 10 days before you arrive in England, and have not
visited a country on the red list, you must follow the amber list
rules.

Read about making a transit stop in an amber or red list country or
territory.

Posted by
25772 posts

note, by the way, that the protocol I referenced above takes no account of if you are airside or landside during your layover. But you do need to plan so that you can give accurate answers on your Passenger Locator Form.

So you can go out of airside to a hotel.

Posted by
19 posts

Ok, thanks again for the help... if you google "do I need a day 2 test if I transit through Heathrow"... click on the info that comes up first. Check out the info in the Transfer Passengers. It looks like I don't need to book a Day 2 test if I'm staying airside when I go from U.S. > UK > Germany. I get why you need one when I go landside on the way back. So it looks like a Day 2 test does not need to be purchased on my way TO Germany? Thanks again

Posted by
19 posts

HERE'S THE GUIDANCE FROM THE UK SITE

"Transiting through England
There are different rules for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Passing through an airport in England while on the way to another country is called ‘transiting’. Some travellers call it a ‘layover’.

There are 2 types of transiting:

‘airside’ - you do not pass through UK border control before you leave on your connecting journey
‘landside’ - you do pass through UK border control, but come back through it and leave the UK within a short amount of time (usually 24 hours)
Before travel to England
If you will be transiting through England, you need to do the following before you travel:

take a COVID-19 test
complete the passenger locator form
If you will be transiting landside through England you need to do the following when you complete your passenger locator form.

select ‘Stay in the UK’ under the Your travel plans section
reply ‘I will be travelling for an exempt reason’ to the question about whether you are required to self-isolate on arrival
select the Exemption options, and then select ‘Transit Exemption’
This includes if you are transiting onto the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. You may need to show evidence of onward travel and where you will be staying at the border .

When you transit through England to international destinations
You do not need to quarantine on arrival or take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and day 8. This applies if you are transiting airside or landside.

You must either:

remain within your port of entry until your departure from England, or
travel directly from your port of entry to another port of departure in England"

So, directly above in their guidance...it says do you need to take a Covid test (I presume the infamous 'Day 2' test) if you're transiting airside or landside. BUT...it then goes on to say you have to remain within your port of entry, which I assume they're saying is the airport itself? If that's the case, why do they say you don't have to take a test when you're landside right above that?? Um, what?!??

Posted by
4763 posts

In case of doubt, why not just buy a day 2 Covid test rather than risk being denied entry or finding problems when you are back at the airport? The cost is peanuts compared to the cost of your holiday.

Posted by
89 posts

If that's the case, why do they say you don't have to take a test when you're landside right above that??

Because as far as I understand they define transiting landside as staying in your port of entry or going directly to your next port of exit.
It doesn’t mean going off somewhere for 24hours, doing whatever you like, potentially infecting others and then getting on a plane or train to somewhere else. (Not that I’m suggesting that’s what you plan to do!).
To do anything other than staying in the port of entry etc you are defined as entering the UK and you need to book and pay for a day2 test whether you need it or not. It may seem pointless but I imagine the thinking behind that was to put people off entering the country for a short space of time without being tested again just as it’s putting you off too.
Unfortunately those are the rules if you want to enter the UK at the moment like it or not!

Posted by
19 posts

Lol... good responses from all. I think you could have written the UK web language a LOT better than they had. Oh I've already purchased the test, that's for sure! But here's the question - I can just get through immigrations with my German test and come back in no problem the following day without ever taking the Day 2 test? I've got to be 100% sure on that one...the quarantine hotel option vaguely sounds like a prison camp. ;)

Posted by
25772 posts

what was in bold 6 posts up - when I quoted the UK regulations.

I'll quote it again:

(no I didn't reword my answer or change the bolding)

If you will be in England for less than 2 days you still need to book
and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 test. You only need to take the test if
you are still in England on day 2.

Posted by
25772 posts

another very good reason - as well as the law - what will you do if your flight is delayed by a day? That sort of thing happens - a lot.

Did you say if you will only have been in (even for a short time) Germany and other Green List countries?

I made the assumption that your German test meets the standard required by the UK for entry to get into England initially... the standards for US are less strict than UK. :

Type of test

The test must meet performance standards of ≥97%
specificity, ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml.

This could include tests such as:

a PCR test
a LAMP test
an antigen test, such as an LFD (lateral flow device) test

You must check with your test provider that the test
meets the standards. You may not be able to travel if it does not.

Posted by
19 posts

And I will ask AGAIN... what section of the UK info belonging to 'transits', 'transfer', etc... does it say that?? It only says that for England arrivals that do not have a connection. Sorry, but I'm not seeing your info anywhere related to transit... which they DO have dedicated info for. Why? Because you're TRANSITING.

Posted by
19 posts

Doesn't matter. I bought the test. I'll go with the advice that I don't need to actually take that test...weird that you don't have to take it if they force you to buy it. You guys are missing my point. I understand the law. I'm an expert traveler within Europe. But I simply cannot stand the English red tape. It's almost like California there...lol. You say tomato... but the sections for transit clearly say something else. READ THEM. Lol... honestly guys, I do appreciate the help. Btw, I highly suggest VeriFly... it will make your life easier on these connections and test results.

Posted by
875 posts

Ryan,
In your mind, you are only transiting. In reality, you are entering England, using transportation, eating food, maybe stopping somewhere to sight see, spending the night in a hotel and then using transportation again. If you are carrying the next variant of Covid with you, you may be starting the next surge for the whole country. Unless you are going directly from the airport to another airport or transportation hub, you are not transiting, you are entering. Please understand that they have a responsibility to protect themselves from you : ).

A great way avoiding British red tape is to NOT go there. If you go there, I advise complying with less anger and frustration. I think you have received some helpful replies by British people and you are CAPITAL LETTERING at them.

Posted by
4763 posts

If you enter the U.K. from a Red List Country, you have to quarantine for 10 nights as you are regarded as high risk. If you want to enter a care home in the U.K., they will put you in self isolation for 14 nights, even though you probably haven’t been in close contact with anyone.

I can visit someone in a care home so long as I take a LFT daily and wear full PPE inside the building. The staff that work there are tested twice a week and just wear masks.

Are the above points logical? No, but they are U.K. law. Same with the Covid testing.

Posted by
19 posts

So now that I've done it, I can tell you. I've blown $180 on Day 2 testing that they never checked for. I never needed it. Don't get it. And if they spot check you? Guess what. You can just get it right there at the airport... which unless you live in the UK, you can't have those Day 2 tests delivered to you anyway. Some !@#%&*(^ in the UK discovered a great way to make money off this and they succeeded. What I said 2 days ago this being a money grab? ONE HUNDRED AND TEN PERCENT CORRECT. DON'T BUY IT UNLESS THEY MAKE YOU TAKE IT. I just saved anyone on here that's actually transiting thru the UK a lot of money. Unless you'll be in the UK on Day 2, you just need the Passenger Locator Form and a negative test within 72 hrs. You're welcome.

Posted by
19 posts

And Rick, whenever you're ready to take a deeper dive into Germany like you did with your Martin Luther piece (fellow Lutheran too)... let me know and I'll take you and Simon to churches and towns in Bavaria that will supply all the necessary eye candy needed. Because really, just keep doing what you want... and Germany is #1 on your list as is mine. ;)

Posted by
70 posts

There is a serious error in your advice to others.

In order to complete the UK Passenger Locator Form, you must enter your purchase code for the Day Two Test. Airlines check the UK Passenger Locator Form prior to issuing boarding passes to the UK. I know because I have flown there twice in the past few months.

We may agree that this is a money grab from the UK government and their cronies, but as many on here have said, it is the law. I suggest the next time you travel you avoid countries where you cannot abide by their laws.

Many on this thread tried to help you and you did not like their accurate advice.

This American expat living in London suggests that everyone carefully researches border entry requirements for your destinations. If you do not like the requirements, I suggest you find legally acceptable alternatives, or travel after the pandemic.

Posted by
3 posts

The answer is that you can state on the locator form, that you wish to take a transit exemption, which frees you from an obligation to purchase the Day 2 test. It’s quite clearly stated on the UK gov site, under the transit section and includes specific step by step directions on how to fill out the locator form when requesting an exemption. It’s frustrating because it requires some research to figure out the relevant portions of the guidelines that apply to transiting passengers, and also because you can find info in the same guidelines that appears to contradict what I reported above.

Posted by
25772 posts

it is critical not to rely on covid regulations which were posted on in the past - things change a lot and not infrequently.

This thread is from mid-August.

Anybody wanting current information needs to look at the current official pages.

Posted by
3 posts

Yes, I agree and so I am reporting from info posted on the uk.Gov. Website that is current as of today, which is the day that the most recent changes were implemented and take effect. I posted my response on a dated section of the forum because, quite frankly, I could find no other discussion on the forum addressing this issue. A lot of what was stated in the previous discussion was incorrect, even based on information available at the time.

Posted by
25772 posts

Thanks Janni.. Probably best to give new information (thank you!!) in a new thread - folks will likely read the OP and a couple of answers but may not scroll to the end to get new information...

welcome aboard our little circus!