The government says the move will give passengers the confidence to book international travel knowing they can return home and isolate themselves for a shorter period if they have tested negative.
Those who opt for the program will need to book and pay for a Covid-19 test from a private provider on the gov.uk list.
The DoT says this is to ensure that NHS Test and Trace testing capability is protected.
As part of the “International Travel Release Test” strategy, passengers arriving in England by plane, ferry or train must book their test before traveling; must complete a passenger locator form; and will still need to self-isolate for five days before taking a test – rather than taking it at their port of arrival.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We have a plan in place to ensure that our road to emerge from this pandemic is prudent and balanced, allowing us to focus on what we can now do to strengthen international travel while ensuring public safety.
“Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, see our loved ones and boost international business. By giving people the choice to test on Day 5, we are also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild itself out of the pandemic.
The “Test to Release” program is announced as the government sets up new financial support for UK airports and ground agents.
This support, which will be available for commercial airports in England, will cover fixed costs and will be equivalent to each company’s business fare liabilities, capped at £ 8million per site, and under certain conditions.
This program will open in the new year.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The aviation industry is vital to our economy – it creates jobs and spurs growth – which is why we have supported them throughout this crisis through the job retention program. , loans and tax deferrals.
“This new package of airport support, coupled with a new testing regime for international arrivals, will help the industry take off once again as we rebuild better after the pandemic.”
The government says it has looked at the evidence that shows that testing after five days of self-isolation provides “materially better results” than just taking a test on arrival, as this allows time for the virus, s ‘it is present, to incubate by helping reduce the risk of a false negative result.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Ensuring the ability to travel safely has been a priority for the Global Travel Taskforce.
“This test on the fifth day of the 14-day self-isolation period will identify positive cases of coronavirus and allow those who test negative to return to work and see their loved ones while respecting national restrictions on coronavirus.
“This will be done at the traveller’s expense in order to protect the capacity of the NHS Test and Trace and to ensure that any UK resident who shows symptoms can be tested.”