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UPDATED: How to book that ‘Day Two’ Covid-19 test if you’re travelling from Denmark to the UK

The UK government has published its list of 'cheaper Covid travel tests' for arrivals into the UK from countries including Denmark. But don't get too excited.

Arriving passengers at Heathrow Airport in June 2021. The UK's 'Day 2' Covid-19 test requirement switches from PCR to antigen tests on October 24th.
Arriving passengers at Heathrow Airport in June 2021. The UK's 'Day 2' Covid-19 test requirement switches from PCR to antigen tests on October 24th. Photo: Hannah Mckay/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The UK government has relaxed travel rules for arrivals from the EU — but there are still restrictions and testing requirements in place. The testing rules are also set to change.

At the beginning of October, the UK government scrapped its amber list and switched to only green or red – all European countries are on the green list.

For countries like Denmark who were on the green list under the old system, the rules remain the same for fully vaccinated arrivals but have become more strict for those who are not vaccinated.

Under the current rules, fully vaccinated arrivals from Denmark no longer need to take a pre-departure Covid test.

Travellers do, however, still need ‘Day 2’ tests on arrival – but from October 24th these can be antigen tests (known in the UK as lateral flow tests) rather than PCR tests- The new tests went on sale on Friday, October 22nd.

When do I need to book my “Day Two” test? What has changed about the test type?

You need to include proof that you have booked a “Day Two” Covid-19 test on the passenger locator form. All passengers, including children over the age of 5, have to take a test on or before ‘Day Two’ after their arrival in England. Anyone who fails to take this Day Two test faces a fine of up to £2,000.

The passenger locator form, required for all arrivals into England, cannot be completed without a reference number from a test, booked through one of the UK government’s approved list of suppliers.

And, yes, even if your stay is a short one, before you travel you will need to book and pay for tests for Day Two and – if required because you’re not fully vaccinated at the time of travel – Day Eight.

Until now, the Day 2 test were required to be PCR tests, but this switches on October 24th to rapid tests which can be done at home — known in the UK as lateral flow tests.

Travellers have been complaining for months about the extortionate prices and terrible service afforded by the Day 2 testing system, and the switch to lateral flow tests should make these cheaper – in theory.

You do still, however, have to use a test provider from the list of approved government suppliers and the test must be booked and paid for before you leave Denmark.

While broadly similar, Covid-19 travel, quarantine and testing rules are slightly different if you’re heading to ScotlandWales, or Northern Ireland

Since the beginning of October, fully vaccinated arrivals do not need to take a test in Denmark and show it before boarding their flight (or train or ferry). 

People who are not vaccinated (or who do not meet the UK government definition of vaccinated) will have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival, this can be done at a private home and you do not need to go to a hotel. In addition, they will have to book and pay for both a Day 2 test and a Day 8 test before leaving.

How to book a test? 

Tests must be booked from a company on the government’s list of test providers in England and Northern Ireland here. It should be noted that until October 24th, this test should still be a PCR test. From October 24th, the Day 2 test becomes a lateral flow test. This is a test you do at home with no need to send the sample to a lab.

However, this must still be booked in advance and from one of the approved government suppliers.

The UK government published its updated list including lateral flow tests on Friday, October 22nd and initially this looked good, with several tests listed at £20 or under.

However when we tried to book one on Friday lunchtime, none of the sites listing tests at or around £20 were actually selling them at that price – some sites said they had no tests available, while others only listed options to purchase the considerably more expensive PCR tests.

It remains unclear whether this will change in the days to come.

The new system should, however, eliminate the earlier problem of long waits for results.

An inconvenient aspect of the system is that you also have to book individually for each passenger that requires a test.

Compare this to Denmark, where free rapid tests are offered on arrival at airports, with a fresh negative result given to travellers before they get to border control, and where tests are then available to travellers for free at drop-in centres across Denmark. 

For anyone used to the efficient testing system in Denmark, the UK set up will appear completely bonkers.

When do you need to take the “day two” PCR test? 

For test and quarantine purposes, the day of arrival is counted as Day Zero. The following day is Day One, the day after that Day Two, and so on, so “Day Two” is in fact what many people might consider “Day Three”. 

Short stays

So, what if you’re staying in the UK for less than two days? You still need the Day 2 test, because the passenger locator form cannot be completed without the booking reference, and you cannot enter England without the form.

So you must pay for a test even if you will no longer be in England when the time comes to use it.

Fully vaccinated

Also be aware that the UK government’s definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ is not the same as Denmark’s.

You need to have been vaccinated with a UK approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson – and be at least 14 days from your final dose.

After much confusion, the UK has finally agreed to recognise as vaccinated people who had a ‘mixed dose’ – ie one AstraZeneca and one Pfizer.

Danish health authorities meanwhile recently warned of potential travel issues for people originally vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson jab in Denmark who have since received a single Pfizer dose as a booster, a practice recently introduced in the country. This has potential implications for travel to the UK.

READ ALSO: Denmark warns Johnson & Johnson vaccinated over potential border refusals after booster

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Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany