Latest UK COVID travel restrictions


What are the latest COVID travel restrictions affecting arrivals into the UK?

Travel corridors closed

All quarantine-free travel corridors for people arriving into the UK have been closed indefinitely, and all arrivals from anywhere outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man must now present a negative Covid-19 test issued no more than 72 hours before departure to be allowed entry. Passengers must then go into immediate isolation for ten days.

The new COVID-19 measures took effect from 4am Monday 18 January 2021 and apply to all travellers, including UK residents and visitors, arriving by boat, train or plane. The restrictions are set to be reviewed on 15 February 2021.

International travel bans for UK

The Government has also published a ‘red list’ of countries affected by a UK travel ban. Anyone coming into the country from the listed destinations will automatically be refused entry unless they fall under the tightened permitted reasons.

The ban does not affect British and Irish Nationals, or third country nationals with residence rights in the UK, who will instead be transported on arrival to government-provided accommodation, such as a hotel, to quarantine for 10 days “without exception”. who will be able to enter the UK but are required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival along with their household.

The Department of Health and Social Care is understood to be working to establish quarantine facilities “as quickly as possible”.

Which countries are on the UK’s red list?

Anyone returning from these destinations face strict isolation rules.

The 33 countries on the red list are:

  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burundi
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Ecuador
  • Eswatini
  • French Guiana
  • Guyana
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mauritius
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • South Africa
  • Suriname
  • Tanzania
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Business travellers & returning expats

With holiday and leisure travel already banned, the latest restrictions will predominantly impact business travellers and returning expats, who are advised to ensure they are fully prepared ahead of travelling to the UK.

Passengers will need to check they are permitted to travel, and if so, ensure they have a valid COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of departure. Proof must be given to the travel company they are travelling with, for example, the airline, ferry company or train operator. The test result must be in English, French or Spanish.

An online passenger locator form must be completed before travel. The form can be submitted up to 48 hours before arrival in the UK.

Travellers will also need to make arrangements in advance to self-quarantine immediately for 10 days, or 5 days if they pass under the ‘test to release scheme’.

Under the test to release scheme, the mandatory quarantine period can be reduced to 5 days if the passenger passes an approved COVID test on arrival. The test must be booked in advance of travel.

If using test to release, passengers must still present a valid negative COVID test on arrival and must quarantine until they receive the negative result.

Travelling without a valid negative COVID test, or failing to complete the passenger locator form, is a criminal offence. Passengers can be fined, refused permission to board and foreign nationals may be refused entry into the UK.


Latest UK COVID travel restrictions 1

Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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