Entering the UK: Testing and Quarantine Q&A
With new COVID-19 rules for testing and quarantine coming into force for those entering the UK, we set out answers to some commonly asked questions.
What should I do before I travel to the UK?
If you are fully vaccinated according to the new rules:
- Book day 2 COVID-19 test for after your arrival in the UK
- Provide your contact details by completing the online passenger locator form
If you are not fully vaccinated according to the new rules:
- take a pre-departure COVID-19 test – to be taken in the 3 days before you travel to England
- book and pay for day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 tests – to be taken after arrival in England
- complete your passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before you arrive in England
- quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days
The ‘Test to Release Scheme’ is still available.
How do I book my COVID-19 tests for quarantine?
If you are not fully vaccinated, you must book two COVID-19 tests for day 2 and day 8 of your quarantine. A list of providers.
If you are fully vaccinated, you will still need to book the COVID-19 test for day 2, but you will not need to quarantine, unless you test positive or if the NHS Test & Trace informs you that you have travelled to England with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Passenger Locator Form? What’s that?
The form can be filled out online.
You will need to have booked the COVID test(s) beforehand, and you will need to have your passport or other travel document details to hand, along with details of your travel dates and time, and the address you will be staying at in the UK for quarantine.
You will need to show your completed passenger locator form when you check in to travel by plane, train or ferry, as well as when you arrive at the UK border.
You will have to declare that you have been fully vaccinated and be able to show proof of your vaccination status, to make use of the rules for the fully vaccinated.
Proof of vaccination can be shown through:
- NHS COVID pass if you live in England
- The EU Digital COVID Certificate
- The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card for US residents
- A vaccine Certificate
What if I get a ‘positive’ result in my COVID-19 test before leaving for the UK, or I forget to take a test?
If your test result is ‘positive’ you must not travel.
You may be fined £500 when you arrive at the UK border if you cannot provide proof that you have had a ‘negative’ COVID test result. The results must be in English, French, or Spanish. More details about acceptable types.
You do not need to provide a negative test result if you are travelling:
- within the UK, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey
- from Ireland
- from Ireland, Ascension, Falkland Islands, St Helena or Myanmar
You also do not need a test if:
- you are a child under the age of eleven years old
- you have a job on the ‘exempt jobs’ list (considered in more detail below)
- you are travelling to the UK for medical reasons
- you are travelling from a country where you cannot access testing facilities
Where do I quarantine?
You can stay:
- in your own home
- with friends or family
- in a hotel or other temporary accommodation that is not a managed quarantine facility
You must quarantine in one place for the full quarantine period. This must be at the address you provided on your passenger locator form.
How does testing work in quarantine?
The two COVID tests you book are a day 2 test and a day 8 test. The day 2 test is taken on or before the second day of your quarantine, and the day 8 test is taken on or after the eighth day of your quarantine.
If you test positive for either your day 2 or day 8 test, then you must quarantine for a further ten days after the day on which you took the test in question.
If you test negative on both tests, then you only need to quarantine for ten days total.
There is also an optional Test to Release scheme, which allows you to pay for a private COVID test. You can take the Test to Release test after you have been in England for five full days. If the result is negative, you can stop quarantining. However, you must still take your day 2 and day 8 tests.
What can I do while in quarantine?
You cannot have any visitors, including friends and family, unless they’re providing:
- emergency assistance
- care or assistance, including personal care
- medical assistance
- veterinary services
- certain critical public services
You must not leave the premises in which you are quarantining. You must not:
- go to work or school
- visit family or friends
- exercise outside the place where you’re quarantining
- leave the place you’re quarantining to walk your dog
- go shopping
However, you may leave your accommodation in certain exceptional circumstances, including to:
- escape risk of harm
- access basic urgent necessities, where you cannot arrange for these to be delivered
- travel to a COVID-19 testing site
- access critical public services
- move to a different place for quarantine when you can no longer remain where you are
What about short visits to the UK?
If your trip is for a shorter duration than the 10-day quarantine period, you must still quarantine for the entire period of time in the UK if you are not fully vaccinated. For circumstances not covered in the guidance, there is an email helpline at [email protected].
Are there any exceptions to these rules?
Some people do not have to follow some of the rules mentioned above, due to the jobs they do. To check whether you do any of these jobs, and what exceptions might apply to you, see the list of exempt jobs.
There are also some other exceptions if you are travelling to the UK for medical reasons or for compassionate reasons.
This Q&A primarily focuses on travel to England. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have slightly different rules. If you want details of the quarantine and testing rules applying to Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, please see below:
FSP can advise you on all aspects of inbound immigration to the UK and will keep you up to date with the latest developments as they are released from the Home Office.
If you require our assistance, please contact our Head of Immigration, [email protected].