Know Before You Go

Know Before You Go: Guidance for travel in Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Updated on: 14/05/2021

Restrictions are in operation across Great Britain and Northern Ireland and quarantine is required for international visitors and those returning from abroad. Please keep in mind that EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland may have different guidelines and advice in place at different times. For more information on specific areas, please check the relevant government pages.

Strict testing and quarantining rules are currently in place for international arrivals into the UK because of COVID-19. The specific regulations in place may vary in different parts of the UK. Please ensure you check the links below for the latest guidance for each nation:




Northern Ireland



From 17 May in England, a traffic light system of Green, Amber and Red will apply to different countries, with each colour having a respective set of travel rules. The list will be reviewed every three weeks.

All travellers are required to take a pre-departure test in the three days before arriving in the UK.

If you are arriving in England from Green list countries, you do not need to quarantine on arrival, but must complete a test before day two of your arrival.

If you are arriving from Amber list countries, you will need to quarantine for 10 days upon your arrival in England and must complete two tests, one on day two, and another on day eight after your arrival.

Travel from Red list countries is banned. Individuals travelling from red list countries are only able to enter the UK if they are a UK or Irish national, or a UK resident.

You can find further information, including details on transit stops, on the official government website.



A traffic light system of green, amber and red will also apply in Scotland from 17 May.

What you must do when you arrive in Scotland from abroad depends on:

  • where you’ve been in the 10 days before arriving in Scotland
  • whether the country or area you’ve travelled from is on the red, amber or green list


You can visit the official government website to find full information on travelling to Scotland and the traffic light system.



The Welsh Government has confirmed that international travel will resume from Monday 17 May. A traffic light system, aligned with England and Scotland, will be introduced. Countries will be classified as Green, Amber and Red. Mandatory quarantine for countries not on the green list remains in place.


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has an existing traffic light system already in place for Amber and Red countries. Travellers should visit the official Northern Ireland website for further details.


The border measures have been introduced to prevent the spread of new variants of Coronavirus into the UK.


A 'roadmap' that outlines how lockdown restrictions will be eased in England has been published. It is a four-step approach, with the first step starting on 8 March. There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the data to reflect changes in restrictions, followed by seven days’ notice of the restrictions to be eased. Progression through each step will be based on four tests.


The earliest that we can expect to see the opening up of some outdoor hospitality and self-catering (step 2) is 12 April, with the earliest date for indoor attractions, hospitality and other accommodation, along with some business events and performance events (with capacity restraints)(step 3) being 17 May. International travel will not be permitted until at least 17 May.


Step 4 - no earlier than 21 June - the hope at this stage is to reopen remaining settings such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues, to lift the restrictions on social contact and large events that apply in step 3. This is subject to the outcome of the Events Research Programme, and a review of social distancing measures.


Over the next few months, the Government will also be conducting a review on the following:

•           Social distancing and face masks

•           The resumption of international travel - a successor to the Global Travel Task Force will report by the 12 April so people can plan for the summer

•           COVID status certification to enable reopening of businesses, mindful of discrimination and privacy

•           The return of major events.



The Scottish Government has published its roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions. The updated Strategic Framework sets out a phased approach. There will be a gap of at least three weeks between each easing of restrictions to assess the impact of changes against six tools.


The first three phases are focused on the return of education. Phase 4 (no earlier than 26 April) is when there will be the phased re-opening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers. More details will be available in mid-March.



On 19 February, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that Wales will remain at Alert Level 4, with a review in three weeks' time. The Coronavirus control plan: alert levels in Wales remains their key planning tool.

If you are visiting Great Britain and Northern Ireland from any country, you must complete a Public Health Passenger Locator Form that collects the following information:

  • Contact details
  • Travel details (dates etc.)
  • Passport details


The form must be completed online and submitted no earlier than 48 hours before your arrival.


After you complete the form

After you complete and submit the form you’ll receive a confirmation email with a document attached. Before you arrive at the border, you must either:

  • print a copy of the document
  • download the document on your phone


You’ll need to show this document when you arrive in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Border Force officers will scan the QR code at the top of this document to check you have completed the form successfully. For further information, including what to do if you develop coronavirus symptoms while travelling, and how to complete the form if you are travelling with someone under 18, please visit the official government information page.

On 26 February, VisitBritain announced that tourism businesses in the UK registered to the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard scheme can now be automatically issued with the international ‘Safe Travels’ stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The We’re Good To Go scheme, launched last year by VisitEngland in partnership with the tourism boards of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, means businesses can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked that they have the required processes in place for when you are able to visit them. It has now been recognised by WTTC as meeting its international global standardised health and hygiene protocols and for its role in supporting the recovery of the UK tourism sector.

The WTTC stamp enables you to recognise destinations around the world which have adopted global standardised protocols - so you can experience ‘Safe Travels.’

VisitBritain is coordinating the Safe Travels stamp issue in the UK, on behalf of the WTTC, for businesses registered to its We’re Good To Go scheme, so you can visit them with confidence.

Find out more at and remember to look for the mark on individual business websites when you’re thinking about planning your future trip online. Our interactive map showcases all tourism and hospitality businesses that have the mark in the UK, allowing you to find where it is good to go.


To make your days out as enjoyable as possible in the future, we encourage you to plan your trip in advance and to check all of the important facilities and attractions, while looking after our great outdoors. To ensure we’re all doing our bit to travel responsibly, here are a few general steps to help make planning easy, when we're all able to travel again:

  • Please keep in mind that local lockdowns could be implemented in different areas at different times, so make sure to check the interactive map of lockdown restrictions before you travel.
  • When planning your trip, check that important facilities – like toilets and car parks – are open before you travel so you’re not caught short. You can find information on public toilets open across Great Britain and Northern Ireland at Lockdown Loo.
  • If you have an attraction in mind, please check online to see if you need to pre-book a time slot.
  • Across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it is the law that you must wear a face mask at all times when using public transport like buses, trains, taxis and minicabs, unless you are exempt from doing so.
  • Locations where face coverings are mandatory differ by nation, and you should follow the specific guidance for face coverings for EnglandScotlandWales or Northern Ireland, depending on the country you are visiting.
  • If you are travelling by air, at arrival you may be requested to wear a face mask inside the airport terminal, to use online check in where possible, and minimise hand luggage. Social distancing restrictions will also be in place, in line with the specific rules for each nation.
  • Keep two metres apart from anyone outside your household – this not only applies to walking, but running, cycling, and sitting. Please note: Social distancing is two metres apart in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, you should stay two metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or one metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors). Please see the relevant websites for each nation for further information.
  • Some places may be extremely popular, so instead why not plan to get off the beaten track and discover a hidden gem.
  • Make sure you have a bank card; many outlets are currently only accepting cashless payments.
  • Wash your hands regularly and take hand sanitiser with you for use when public hand-washing facilities are not available.

Government information and advice

For the latest government information and specific advice on travel in each of the four nations, please visit:


Local lockdown restrictions

For information on current lockdown restrictions across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, please visit the relevant government websites.

If you think you have coronavirus symptoms, you should dial 111 to access the NHS helpline for advice. The free-to-call non-emergency number is available 24 hours a day. You can find the latest health guidance for each individual nation on dedicated pages for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments in Britain provide treatment for genuine life-threatening emergencies. Should you require medical help or advice in a non-life-threatening situation, you should call 111 to access the NHS 111 service.

Overseas visitors may need to pay for hospital care they receive, and all visitors are strongly advised to ensure they have adequate insurance cover before travelling. Any coronavirus testing and treatment will not incur any charges.

You should dial 999 in an emergency to reach police, fire and ambulance services, as well as the coastguard. You will need to indicate which service you need. Further services such as mountain rescue and Britain’s voluntary coastguard service, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, can also be accessed via this number.

Calls are free from any phone, but should only be made in genuine emergencies.

If you are lost, ask a policeman or woman for assistance – they are courteous, approachable and helpful. Traffic wardens may also be able to help you with directions. If you have been the victim of a crime, contact the police by dialling 999 or 101 for non-emergencies.

Police community support officers also work alongside the police, and can also provide advice and guidance, alongside directions and other key information.

Travel by public transport - facemasks

Remember, across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it is the law that you must wear a face mask at all times when using public transport like buses, trains, taxis and minicabs, unless you are exempt from doing so.

The rules regarding the wearing of facemasks in other locations, including airports and public transport hubs, differ by nation. For further information, please visit the dedicated websites for EnglandScotlandWales or Northern Ireland.

Great Britain and Northern Ireland have left the EU, and the transition period ended on 31 December 2020. We’re looking forward to welcoming you back and want to keep you updated that from 1 January 2021, there are new rules if you wish to visit us from abroad. For further details please check the official government website or see our visiting the UK after 1 January 2021 page. There will also be new rules if you wish to work and study in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as part of a new points-based immigration system for EU citizens.  If you would like further information, please visit to find out more.