Know Before You Go

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

Updated on: 26/08/2021

Varying restrictions are in operation across Great Britain and Northern Ireland and there are testing and quarantine requirements for those arriving in the UK, with the rules varying depending on where visitors are travelling from. Please keep in mind that England, Scotland, Wales 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.

Please note: what you must do when you arrive in the UK from abroad depends on where you have been in the 10 days before you arrive and where you are staying. Different testing and quarantining rules are currently in place for international arrivals from Red, Amber and Green countries into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland because of COVID-19. Please ensure you check the links below for the latest guidance for each nation:

England

Scotland

Wales

Northern Ireland

 

New amber list rules if vaccinated in Europe or the USA

The UK government and devolved administrations have announced that passengers arriving from Amber countries who have been fully vaccinated in Europe (EU Member States, European Free Trade Association countries and the European microstate countries of Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City) and the USA will not have to quarantine when entering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Passengers who are fully vaccinated in the EU with vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or in the USA with vaccines authorised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or in the Swiss vaccination programme, are able to travel to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without having to quarantine or take a day 8 test on arrival.

Amber arrivals who have been fully vaccinated in the USA and European countries will still be required to complete a pre-departure test before arrival into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, alongside a PCR test on or before day 2 after arrival. Those vaccinated in the US will also need to provide proof of US residency. Passengers from all countries cannot travel to the UK unless they have completed a passenger locator form.

 

What counts as fully vaccinated

You may not be considered to be fully vaccinated for the purpose of entering the UK even if you’re considered to be fully vaccinated in your country of origin.

In the UK, ‘fully vaccinated’ means you’ve had either:

  • 2 doses of an approved 2 dose vaccine (such as Pfizer or AstraZeneca)
  • One dose of an approved single dose vaccine (such as Janssen)

 

  • You must have had your final dose at least 14 whole days before you arrive in the UK. The day you had your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days.
  •  

2 dose vaccines

If you were vaccinated with a 2 dose vaccine (such as Moderna or Pfizer) you must have had both doses to be considered fully vaccinated. This applies in all cases, even if you have recently recovered from COVID-19 and have natural immunity. Those who have had COVID-19 and have only had one dose of a 2 dose vaccine must follow the rules for unvaccinated arrivals.

Each dose must be with the same (MHRA, EMA, Swissmedic or FDA) approved vaccine. For example, if your first dose was Moderna your second dose must also be Moderna.

For the UK programmes you can have one dose under the UK vaccination programme and the other under the UK vaccine overseas programme.

Single dose vaccines

If you had an approved one dose vaccine, such as Janssen, you are fully vaccinated.

For more information, please visit:

England - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-quarantine-when-you-arrive-in-england

Wales - https://gov.wales/travel-wales-covid-19-testing-and-isolation

Scotland - https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-international-travel-quarantine/pages/overview/

Northern Ireland - https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-advice 

 

 

Showing your vaccination status

You need to show your travel operator proof that you’ve been fully vaccinated with one of the authorised vaccines before you travel.

This proof should be:

  • an EU Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC) for Europe
  • a CDC card for the USA – you’ll also need to show proof of USA residency, such as your USA passport, visa or Green Card

If you cannot show an EU DCC or CDC card you must follow the rules for those who are not fully vaccinated in the country you are visiting (please see the links at the bottom of this section).

 

Children from the USA and Europe

Children under 18 who are residents of the USA or the listed European countries also do not need to quarantine or take a day 8 test.

They must follow the same rules as children and young people from the UK, as outlined by England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland (depending on the country they are visiting).

England

Scotland

Wales

Northern Ireland

England

A 'roadmap' that outlines how lockdown restrictions will be eased in England has been published. It is a four-step approach, which started on 8 March. 

England moved to Step 4 on 19 July. Find more information about the changes from 19 July.

 

Scotland

The Scottish Government has published its roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions. The updated Strategic Framework sets out a phased approach. Scotland moved to Alert Level 0 on 19 July, with a move to lift more of the remaining Covid19 measures beyond Level 0 planned from 9 August.

 

Wales

Wales’s roadmap out of lockdown can be found at The Coronavirus control plan: alert levels in Wales.

Wales moved to Alert Level 1 on 17 July and, if the public health situation allows, plans to move to Alert Level 0 on 7 August. Find more information on the changes from 17 July.

 

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s Pathway out of Restrictions roadmap details the stages of easing of restrictions. Following a review, further easing of restrictions came into effect in Northern Ireland from 18:00 on 27 July. You can find further information on the official government website.

A traffic light system applies to visitors wanting to travel to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from other countries, with each country classified as Green, Amber or Red.

Please note: the procedures you have to follow to enter England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland vary depending on the country you are travelling from and your destination. For more information for each nation, please follow the links below:

England

Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

The status of international countries is reviewed every three weeks. If a country or territory on the Green list is at risk of moving to Amber it will be listed on the Green watchlist. However, if cases rise suddenly in a particular country, it may be removed from the Green list or added to the Red list without notice. The border measures have been introduced to prevent the spread of new variants of Coronavirus into the UK.

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 visitbritain.com 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Additional social distancing rules remain in place for some nations. 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:

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

From 19 July, the wearing of facemasks on public transport remains compulsory on TfL services in London and is encouraged in the rest of England. It remains compulsory in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The rules regarding the wearing of facemasks in other locations, including airports, 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 there are new rules for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who wish to visit us. Find out what you need to know about visiting the UK from the EU, EEA or Switzerland or check the official government website. 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 gov.uk to find out more.