Bespoke testing regimes for exempt groups

Bespoke testing is available in the workplace and in the community for eligible international arrivals travelling to England from outside the Common Travel Area.

From 15 February, everyone allowed to enter England from outside the Common Travel Area must:

  • quarantine for 10 days
  • take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test on day 2 and day 8 of quarantining
  • follow the national lockdown rules

Some people do not have to quarantine if they are travelling for work, because of the jobs they do.

From 6 April, all international arrivals must complete day 2 and 8 testing, or a bespoke testing regime for arrivals exempt from quarantine, unless they are domestic sea fishers actively working or diplomats.

You should check this list of jobs to find out whether you qualify for an exemption from quarantine and whether you must follow a bespoke testing regime or day 2 and day 8 testing for international arrivals.

Bespoke testing is available in the workplace and in the community for eligible international arrivals travelling to England from outside the Common Travel Area.

What you must do before you travel

You must complete a passenger locator form (PLF) with details of your exemption from quarantine (unless you are also exempt from completing a PLF).

Bespoke testing regimes are designed to be flexible and cannot be booked in advance, so you will not be required to provide a booking reference on your passenger locator form (PLF).

You will need to show evidence of the work you will be undertaking in England at the border.

Taking tests once you arrive

Testing will identify cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), including variants, and help to limit onward transmission as well as enabling you to take suitable precautions.

If you have a job where you must follow a bespoke testing regime and are staying in England longer than 2 days you will need to take a test on or before day 2, between day 3 and 5 and between day 6 and 8.

The day of arrival in England will be treated as day zero. For example, if you travel to England for 6 days, you would take a test typically on day 2 and again on day 5. If you subsequently return to England this sequence would reset and be applied afresh. If you are staying for 2 days or less you are not required to take tests.

You should take a test on these days even if you are not at work. However, air crew will not be required to take a test during Flight Time Limitations.

If you are travelling every day or often, you must take a lateral flow device (LFD) test at least once every 3 days. For example, if you are travelling outside the Common Travel Area every day for 6 days you would be required to take at least 2 tests in this period.

If you are an offshore oil and gas worker you are required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for international arrivals before travelling to the offshore installation, that should be on or before day 2. If you cannot wait to receive this result before leaving for the installation you should also take an LFD test.

If you return from the offshore installation less than 8 days after you travelled to England you must take a PCR test. Whilst on the offshore installation you should take an LFD test at least once every 3 days for the 10 days after you arrive in England.

If you do not take the tests you face a penalty of up to £2,000.

What to do if you test positive

If you test positive at either the day 2, 5 or 8 test you must self-isolate for a period of 10 days from the day after you take the test – you will receive further advice alongside your test results. Your household will also be required to self-isolate. You will be required to take a follow-up PCR test which will be genome sequenced for variant surveillance.

Getting tests for bespoke workplace and community testing for international arrivals

International arrivals required to undertake bespoke testing as set out in this guidance will be able to access lateral flow tests through:

  • workplace testing, available to employers where employees cannot work from home
  • community testing, by getting tested at local authority-run asymptomatic testing sites as well as NHS Test and Trace testing sites
  • at home, by collecting lateral flow self-test kits at community sites or ordering test kits online or by dialling 119
  • at a haulier advice site, if you are a HGV driver or operator
Published 28 March 2021
Last updated 28 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. First published.