Need to know: UK's international travel rules

INSIGHT

UK's international travel rules 

In the UK, there’s a two-list system for international travel. A red list and a ‘rest of the world’ list. Countries sit in either list, which dictates what travellers need to do when returning to the UK.

The system is in place to outline what you need to do to return to the UK; it does not reflect on rules in the country you’re visiting. Before booking, it’s best you check what’s required from the country you’re heading to as each has their own rules decided by their own government. Check requirements on the FCDO’s website or our COVID Travel Hub.

Some people are exempt from requirements based on their job – see the full list here.

What countries are on each list?  

View the government list here. The list is reviewed every three weeks.

These statuses do not have any reference to the FCDO status for that country – this should be looked at separately if required.

The UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands make up the Common Travel Area and require no testing or quarantine.

 

Who is considered fully vaccinated?

Travellers are considered fully vaccinated if they have had two vaccines, including if you’ve had two different jabs:

  • Under an approved vaccination programme in the UK, Europe and USA
  • Under an approved UK vaccine programme overseas
  • Of the Oxford/AstraZeneca (including Covishield, Vaxzevria), Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna (including Takeda) and Janssen vaccines from public health bodies in more than 100 countries. View list

 

Where can I get tests?

We advise using our testing partners – read more here.

 

Vaccine passports in the UK

Don't leave it until the day of travel to arrange your vaccine passport/certificate. Look at what you need to do days or weeks in advance. 

England: The NHS COVID Pass shows your COVID-19 vaccination details or test results. It can be accessed on the NHS app - this is different to the Test and Trace app. Download for Apple and Android. Travellers can also use the online NHS COVID Pass service or request a NHS COVID Pass letterMore info on the NHS COVID Pass can be found here. 

Scotland: You can request an online or paper version of your vaccination status here.

Wales: Get your NHS COVID Pass online, or by paper. Find out more information here.

Northern Ireland: Residents must apply for proof of vaccination. Find out more information here.

What’s required for each category

 

REST OF THE WORLD

Vaccinated and arriving into the UK  

Before arriving in the UK 

  1. Book your COVID-19 test for day 2 of when you arrive in the UK.
  2. Fill in the passenger locator form. Make sure you have your passport/document details, travel dates/times and COVID-19 test booking reference. Fill in the form here.

After arriving

  1. Take your pre-booked COVID test on or before day 2 after arriving.

 

Not vaccinated and arriving into the UK

Before arriving

  1. Book your COVID-19 tests for day 2 and day 8 of when you come back to the UK.
  2. Book your Test to Release test for day 5 if you want to leave self-isolation early.
  3. Know where you will be self-isolating for the required 10 day period.
  4. Fill in the passenger locator form – this can now be done online. Make sure you have your passport/document details, travel dates/times and COVID-19 test booking reference. Fill in the form here.
  5. A test must be taken in the 3 days before your flight back to the UK. For example if you’re flying directly to England on Friday, you must take the test on the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. For more information visit these pages: EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

When you arrive

  1. Self-isolate for 10 days.
  2. Take your pre-booked COVID test on day 2 and day 8 after arriving.
  3. If you’re testing to release, take that test on day 5.

RED LIST

Before arriving into the UK

  1. Book your hotel quarantine package which includes two PCR tests. You can only book your managed quarantine hotel within a 14-day window before arrival. Book here. For more information on quarantining visit these pages: EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland
  2. Fill in the passenger locator form. Make sure you have your passport/document details, travel dates/times, COVID-19 test booking reference and hotel quarantine booking reference. Fill in the form here.
  3. A test must be taken in the 3 days before your flight back to the UK. For example if you’re flying directly to the UK on Friday, you must take the test on the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. For more information visit these pages: EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

When you're in quarantine

  1. Travel directly to your quarantine hotel.
  2. Take your pre-booked COVID test on day 2 and day 8 of your hotel quarantine period. Test to Release option is not available for red list countries.

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