COVID-19: Requirements for entering the UK

  • Published: 20 Sep 2021
  • Author: David Warne

The requirements for entering the UK depend on whether the country visited is on the red list or not, and your vaccination status. This guide tells you all you need to know.

Fully vaccinated travellers

      If you are fully-vaccinated at the time of travel you no longer need to take a COVID test prior to entry to the UK and you no longer need to self-isolate after arrival.

      However, you will still need to take a 'Day 2' COVID test on or before the second day after you arrive in the UK. This 'Day 2' test can be a lateral flow test rather than a PCR test but the test must still be purchased from a private test provider (NHS free lateral flow tests cannot be used). If your 'Day 2' lateral flow test result is positive you are required to book a (free) NHS PCR test to confirm the result and follow self-isolation guidelines.


      Travellers that aren't fully vaccinated

      If you are not fully-vaccinated, the requirements for entering the UK from countries not on the red list are:

      1. A negative COVID test result taken within the 3 days prior to arrival in the UK
      2. You must complete the UK Passenger Locator Form (PLF) within the 48 hours prior to arrival in the UK
      3. On return to the UK you must self-isolate for 10 days. You must proceed directly to your home or other place where the self-isolation will be undertaken
      4. A ‘Day 2’ PCR test taken on or before the second day after you arrive in the UK 
      5. A ‘Day 8’ PCR test taken on or after the 8th day after you arrive in the UK
      6. You can also purchase an optional ‘Test to Release’ PCR test on day 5 that, if negative allows you to leave self-isolation early


      Returning from a red list country

      Whether fully-vaccinated or not, the requirements for entering the UK if you have been in a red list country in the 14 days prior to arrival are the same:

      1. A negative COVID test result taken within the 3 days prior to arrival in the UK
      2. You must complete the UK Passenger Locator Form (PLF) within 48 hours of arrival in the UK
      3. You must purchase the UK government hotel 10-day (11-night) hotel quarantine package at a minimum cost of £2,285
      4. On arrival in the UK you will be transferred directly to your quarantine hotel where you spend 10 days in quarantine
      5. A ‘Day 2’ PCR test taken on or before the second day after you arrive in the UK
      6. A ‘Day 8’ PCR test taken on or after the 8th day after you arrive in the UK
      7. You cannot leave hotel quarantine early even if your test results are negative

      Note that ‘Day 2’, ‘Day 8’ tests and red-list hotel quarantine packages must be purchased from an authorised UK government provider before you complete the UK Passenger Locator Form (PLF), as the booking reference must be entered on the PLF.


      Pre-travel COVID tests

      Before returning to the UK, if you need to take a pre-travel COVID test, details can be found here

      This test can be taken at a COVID test centre aboard (as long as a certificate is issued for the result) or you can purchase a self-test kit from selected government-approved providers prior to leaving the UK.

      You will receive a lateral flow/rapid antigen test kit that you take with you. Then simply take a picture of the result and email it to the test provider and within a couple of hours they will send a ‘fit-to-fly’ type certificate if your test is negative.

      There are several providers offering this service - QURED, ExpressTest and The Collinson Group:

      Book your test package with QURED 

        If you are flying with British Airways enter the code ‘BATRAVEL15’ for a 15% discount.

        Book your test package with The Collinson Group

        Book your test package with ExpressTest


        Testing on return to the UK

        On return to the UK, you'll need to have pre-booked the appropriate test packages, details of which you can find here

        There are several providers offering these test packages and the UK government has a list of approved providers. These include our recommended testing partners, QURED, The Collinson Group and ExpressTest by Cignpost.

        Book your test package with QURED

        if you are flying with British Airways enter the code ‘BATRAVEL15’ for a 15% discount.

        Book your test package with The Collinson Group 

        Enter ‘WEXL20’ for a 20% discount

        Book your test package with ExpressTest

        Enter 'BSS21' for a discounted rate

        You can find more details of the ‘Test and Release’ scheme here


        Hotel quarantine packages for red list countries

        If you're returning to the UK from a red list country, you'll need to book a quarantine hotel. Packages can only be booked from the UK government provider. These packages also include the ‘Day 2’ and ‘Day 8’ tests.


        UK government Passenger locator form (PLF)

        Before departing for the UK, you'll need to provide details of your journey via a Passenger Locator Form (PLF). You can find this form here.

        Please note that the Republic of Ireland is part of the Common Travel area, along with the four UK nations, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. None of the requirements above apply if travel is wholly within the Common Travel Area.


        Further reading

        The following articles are designed to help you plan your return to international travel.

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