Travel requirements to check before travelling abroad

Updated: 10 January 2022

NEW: Fully vaccinated passengers and under 18s arriving in the UK no longer need to take a pre-departure test. They also no longer need to self-isolate on arrival and can take a day two lateral flow test, instead of a PCR test. Please see below for more information or visit Gov.uk.

 

The pandemic continues to affect international travel. If you are looking to go on a holiday abroad, visit family or friends overseas or go on a foreign business trip during this time, there are two things you need to check and follow before you travel:

  • The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice for the destination you are planning to visit.
  • The Government requirements for travellers returning to the UK.

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Travel Advice 

Before you go away, you will need to check the Government’s latest advice for the country, or countries, you would like to visit at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

This advice is provided by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and includes important information such as:

  • Any advice against travel, either for COVID or non-COVID reasons.
  • Details of any entry requirements, including if the country you’d like to visit is currently allowing UK travellers to enter. 
  • Specific entry requirements relating to Coronavirus, such as if you need to show proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID-19 test for entry, and if there will be any health checks on arrival.
  • Information about the public health measures in place at your destination such as the requirement to wear a face covering or practice social distancing.
  • Further advice on health, including the latest country-specific health advice from NaTHNaC on the TravelHealthPro website.
  • Guidance on safety and security, as well as information about local laws and customs, such as advice on what to wear when visiting a religious tourist attraction.

You’ll need to check this information regularly before your trip and it’s a good idea to sign up to country specific email alerts so you’re across any important updates.

You can also read guidance from the Government about travelling overseas during the pandemic at the Coronavirus travel guidance page and find more information about staying safe abroad at the FCDO’s Travel Aware page.

Government requirements for your return to the UK

The testing and quarantine requirements when you return to the UK are determined by your COVID-19 vaccination status and whether the country you’re travelling from is on the Government’s “red list” or not. Before you go away, you’ll need to check what you need to do on your return to make sure you’re prepared for your journey home. 

The main requirements are outlined below. You can find more detailed information for the UK nation you’re returning to on the Government websites: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Travelling from "non-red list" countries

If you are fully vaccinated (i.e. it’s been at least 14 days since you received the full course of an approved vaccine), you will need to:

  • You no longer need to present proof of a negative pre-departure test (lateral flow or PCR) before you depart for the UK.
  • You no longer need to self-isolate on arrival and can take a day two lateral flow test (purchased from a private provider) instead of a PCR test. If your lateral flow test is positive, you will need to self-isolate immediately and order an NHS PCR test from gov.uk
  • You still need to complete a Passenger Locator Form in the 48 hours before you return and add details of your day two test to the form.

If you’re travelling with children, the testing requirements are:

  • Under 18s no longer need to show proof of a negative pre-departure test (lateral flow or PCR), before they depart for the UK. 
  • In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, children aged 4 and under do not need to take any tests on their return to the UK. Children aged 5-17 can now take a day two lateral flow test instead of a PCR test.
  • In Scotland, children aged 10 and under do not need to take any tests on their return. Children aged 11-17 can now take a day two lateral flow test instead of a PCR test.

If you are unvaccinated, you will need to:

  • Show proof of a negative pre-departure test (lateral flow or PCR) taken in the two days before you depart for the UK and present your result for boarding.  
  • Complete a Passenger Locator Form in the 48 hours before you return.
  • Book and pay for a PCR test to be taken on or before day two of your return and another PCR test on day eight of your return, and add the details of the test to your Passenger Locator Form.
  • Quarantine at home for 10 days on your return.
  • If you’re returning to England, you’ll have the option of a “test to release” on day five to end self-isolation early.

Travelling from "red list" countries

Regardless of your vaccination status, if you’re returning to the UK from a red list country, you will need to: 

  • Show proof of a negative pre-departure test (lateral flow or PCR) taken in the two days before you depart for the UK and present your result for boarding.
  • Complete a Passenger Locator Form in the 48 hours before you return, including details of your quarantine hotel package.
  • Pre-book a mandatory 11-night quarantine hotel package, which will include two PCR tests, taken on day two and day eight.

Find more information about travelling from red list countries on the Government websites: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Useful information

How to show proof of vaccination

Details of how to show proof of vaccination can be found in our Q&A page: COVID-19: your holiday questions answered under “How do I show proof that I’ve been fully vaccinated/boosted against COVID-19 to travel abroad?”

How to get a test for travel 

For more information about which tests you need for your holiday (e.g. you can’t use a free NHS test for travel) and where to get them, visit our blog: Which COVID-19 tests do I need for my holiday and how do I get one?