COVID-19 travel restrictions: the UK

Travel Restrictions

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This article was published on November 26, 2021, and all the information in the article is correct as of this time. Before you book your trip, we highly recommend that you also check official sources for the most up-to-date travel requirements, as they are subject to constant change.

Can I enter the United Kingdom?

Presently, the United Kingdom is open for tourists. Still, keep in mind that there are some UK travel restrictions.

Can I enter the United Kingdom if I am vaccinated?

Covid-19 street notice in the UKThe UK is currently open to travelers, but you should be mindful of the rules — Shutterstock

Yes, you can enter the United Kingdom if you are fully or partly vaccinated. You are fully vaccinated if you get a complete vaccine course at least 14 days before you arrive in the United Kingdom.

Four vaccine drugs are approved here:

  • Oxford/AstraZeneca
  • Pfizer BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • Janssen

Additionally, from 22 November 2021, the UK also accepts World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL) vaccines, namely:

  • Sinovac
  • Sinopharm Beijing
  • Covaxin

UK entry requirements to show a negative COVID-19 test differ depending on what part of the country you arrive in.

England
If you qualify as fully vaccinated and travel to England after 4 am Tuesday 30 November 2021, you:

  • Must self-isolate
  • Take a PCR test before the end of day 2 after arrival (lateral flow tests will not be accepted)
  • Can leave self-isolation if the PCR test result is negative

Please note, from 4 am Friday 7 January 2022, if you are fully vaccinated and arrive in England, you no longer need to:

  • Take a COVID-19 test before you travel to England
  • Self-isolate when you arrive in England

From 4 am Sunday 9 January 2022, if you travel to England and are fully vaccinated, you can take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR test after arriving in England. If you receive a positive test result, you will need to self-isolate and take a PCR test.

Wales
If you are fully vaccinated and arrive in Wales from a country, not on the red list, you have to:

  • Complete a passenger locator form
  • Take a lateral flow test (LFD) on or before day two of your arrival. If your lateral flow test is positive, you will have to isolate yourself for ten days and take a follow-up PCR test.

Northern Ireland
Fully vaccinated travelers from non-red list countries, need to:

  • Complete a UK Passenger Locator Form
  • Book and pay for either a day two PCR or LFD test that has to be taken on or before day two following your arrival in Northern Ireland.

Scotland
If you are fully vaccinated and travel to Scotland from countries, not on the red list before 4 am on Tuesday 30 November 2021, you need to:

  • Book either a day two PCR or LFD test
  • Take your COVID-19 day two test within two days of arriving in Scotland

If you are fully vaccinated and travel to Scotland from countries, not on the red list after 4 am on Tuesday 30 November 2021, you need to:

  • Self-isolate
  • Take a day two PCR test on or before day two after your arrival. If your day two PCR test result is negative, you can stop self-isolating
  • If the result of your day two PCR test is positive, you will need to isolate for a full ten days from the date of your positive test result

Travel documents if you are fully vaccinated

Traveling to the United Kingdom, what documents do I need? A vaccine certificate issued by a national or state-level public health authority that includes the following data:

  • Your forename and surname(s)
  • Your date of birth
  • Vaccine brand and manufacturer
  • Date of vaccination for every dose
  • Country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer

According to the rules for traveling to the United Kingdom, every document must contain a QR code to confirm your data is from the official database and protected from tampering.

Can I enter the United Kingdom if I am unvaccinated?

International travel to the United Kingdom is possible. You can enter the United Kingdom if you are unvaccinated, but you have to follow some covid-related rules.

'Welcome to Wales' border signEntry restrictions are slightly different, depending on where in the UK you’re going — Shutterstock

Wales
Unvaccinated people need to follow the Wales entry requirements, if you have not been in the red-list country:

  • Fill in a passenger locator form, having proof of a negative coronavirus test, taken no more than 72 hours before departure (not required for children under 11 years old)
  • Take COVID-19 tests during your ten-day isolation (not required for children under five years old) on days two and eight
  • Isolate for up to ten days (not required for under 18s)

England
Unvaccinated travelers must follow England COVID-19 entry requirements if you are traveling from non-red list countries :

  • Show a PCR test that is taken in the three days before they travel to England
  • Book and pay for day two and day eight COVID-19 PCR tests – to be taken after arrival
  • Quarantine for ten full days

Northern Ireland
If you are not fully vaccinated and enter Northern Ireland from countries not on the red list, you must:

  • Take a COVID-19 test in the three days before you travel
  • Book and pay for a day two and day eight a PCR test
  • Self-isolate for ten days at the address you provided on your passenger locator form
  • Take a COVID-19 PCR test on or before day two and on or after day eight of your stay

Scotland
According to Scotland COVID-19 restrictions, unvaccinated travelers arriving from non red list countries, have to:

  • Take a COVID-19 test no more than three days before arriving
  • Book and pay for a day two and day eight a PCR test
  • Self-isolate for ten days after your arrival at home or in the place you are staying
  • Take a COVID-19 PCR test on or before day two and on or after day eight of your stay

Who is restricted from entering the United Kingdom?

From Tuesday, 30 November the list of countries who have been added to the UK’s red list will be updated. If you travel to the United Kingdom from the red-list countries, you need to: 

  • Take a COVID-19 test in the three days before you travel
  • Book a quarantine hotel package and two COVID-19 tests
  • Complete a passenger locator form

Naturally, as well as your COVID-19 documents, you are obliged to show the necessary paperwork for entering the country, be it a passport, visa, or any other paperwork required by UK law.

Travel documents if you are unvaccinated

Unvaccinated travelers may travel to the United Kingdom with one of the following documents:

  • A negative COVID-19 test taken no more than one day before your arrival (children under two years old do not need to test)
  • A document of recovery from COVID-19 (your positive viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the departure from a foreign country)

Can I leave the United Kingdom?

You can leave the UK without any restrictions despite COVID-19 in the United Kingdom. 

Can I leave the United Kingdom if I am vaccinated?

You can easily leave the United Kingdom if you are vaccinated. See a list of places you can travel to last minute in Europe

Travel documents if you are vaccinated

If you travel from the United Kingdom, you can use the NHS COVID Pass application or a paper certificate. The NHS COVID Pass lets you securely share your COVID-19 vaccination records.

Can I leave the United Kingdom if I am unvaccinated?

You can leave the United Kingdom if you are unvaccinated. 

Traveling to “red” or “non-red” countries from the United Kingdom if you are unvaccinated

Starting from November 26 2021, the government of the United Kingdom has added the following countries to the “red” list. Please be aware the list can be changed.  

  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • Eswatini
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • South Africa
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Travel documents if you are unvaccinated

Depending on the destination, unvaccinated travelers need to have one of the documents:

  • Viral test (the relevant period depends on the individual destination)
  • Documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (a positive viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure to a foreign country)

COVID-19 situation in the United Kingdom currently

As of November 2021, the United Kingdom is classified as a “yellow” country. The COVID-19 situation in the UK is improving due to more than 80% of the population having the second dose of vaccine. All public places are open for travelers and locals.

FAQs

Woman holding up a mobile phone displaying a Covid passThe UK uses its very own “Covid pass” — Shutterstock

Is it safe to travel to the United Kingdom right now?

Since the United Kingdom lockdown in 2020, the COVID-19 situation has become much safer. Your trip to the United Kingdom will be quite safe if you follow simple covid-related traveling rules:
  • Let fresh air in if you meet indoors
  • Wear a mask
  • Limit personal contacts
  • Self-isolate if it is required after your test
  • Stay at home if you do not feel well

Is London open for travel?

London is open for tourists now. All the main attractions, shops and restaurants are open to the public. Traveling to London now, you do not need to show any certificates or negative tests when you enter the places of recreation.
London COVID-19 restrictions 2021 are more like recommendations. The Ministry of Health is still asking people to abide by the main rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19 like wearing masks and avoiding close contact with others.

Do I have to be quarantined if I go to the United Kingdom?

Traveling to the United Kingdom, quarantine is mandatory if:
  • You arrive from the red list countries
  • You are vaccinated (you can leave self-isolation if the PCR test taken on day 2 after arrival is negative)
  • You are unvaccinated (even with a negative test)
  • You are vaccinated, but your test is positive (start counting ten days after your result confirmation date)
Please be aware that you may get a £1,000 fine if you avoid self-isolation.

How do I get a health pass to travel to the United Kingdom?

According to travel requirements for the United Kingdom, you need to download a particular application to digitize your vaccination status. The application depends on the country you travel to:
  • Wales and England – NHS COVID Pass
  • Scotland – NHS Scotland COVID Status app
  • Northern Ireland – COVIDCert NI
Always check the current restrictions at your destination before booking a trip and traveling abroad.

Useful links:

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