Coming to the UK for seasonal agricultural work on English farms

Advice for seasonal agricultural workers coming to England to pick fruit and vegetables on farms, and their employers.

This is national guidance for England. Check the local COVID-19 alert levels to find out what level your area is in and any additional restrictions that apply.

The rules on self-isolation for seasonal workers are different from those for other international travellers to the UK because of the importance of the work for food supply. If you’re coming to England to work on a farm, you and your employer must follow this guidance.

Before you travel, you should fill in a form with your journey, contact details and the address at the farm where you will work and live. You must provide these details when you arrive in England.

You’ll need to prove at UK border controls that you are a seasonal agricultural worker.

Read guidance on what you will need to show when you arrive at the UK border.

Travelling from an exempt country

If you’re travelling from an exempt country you will not need to self-isolate for 14 days.

Read guidance on what you need to do if you are travelling from an exempt country.

Travelling from a country which is not exempt

If you’re a seasonal agricultural worker coming to the UK from a country which is not exempt, for the first 14 days after you arrive in the UK you must self-isolate at the farm where you work and live. You’ll only be allowed to leave the farm where you are staying and working in exceptional circumstances.

Travelling to the farm

You should not travel if you have coronavirus symptoms.

When you arrive in the UK from a non-exempt country, you must go straight to the farm where you’ll be working and living. Someone you’ll be staying with at the farm should collect you from the airport, port or station.

If you need to use public transport, you must wear a face covering, unless you have a face covering exemption because of your age, health or another condition. Read guidance on making and wearing a face covering.

You should consider that wearing a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.

Stay 2 metres apart from other people where possible, or one metre with risk mitigation where 2 metres is not viable.

If you develop coronavirus symptoms when you’re travelling to the UK, you should tell one of the crew on your plane, boat or train, or the driver if you’re travelling by bus or coach. They’ll let staff in the airport, port or station know, so they can tell you what you should do next when you arrive.

At the farm accommodation

If you have travelled from a non-exempt country you must stay at the farm address you provided when you arrived at the border.

If you do not live on the farm you:

Your first 14 days in the UK: travellers from a non-exempt country

During your first 14 days in the UK, you can work on the farm as long as you’re living on the farm, but you must:

You must not leave the farm during the first 14 days unless there’s an emergency or you need:

  • urgent medical assistance (or where your doctor has advised you to get medical assistance)
  • essentials like food and medicines and cannot arrange for these to be delivered
  • to access critical public services such as social services and victim support services
  • to go to the funeral of a close relative
  • to fulfil a legal obligation such as participate in legal proceedings

If you need help buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication you should ask your employers and colleagues to help or order a delivery.

While on the farm and working, you should follow guidance on safer working.

During your first 14 days in the UK, you should be placed into a cohort group that you primarily live and work with (see industry best practice guidance on social distancing.

If you get coronavirus symptoms in your first 14 days in the UK

You should look for any of the following symptoms in the 14 days after the day you arrive in the UK:

  • new continuous cough
  • high temperature
  • loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste

If you develop symptoms you must self-isolate for both of the following:

  • at least 14 days from the date you arrived in the UK
  • at least 10 days from when your symptoms started and until you are better and no longer have a high temperature

If you have a high temperature you must continue to self-isolate even if:

  • you have had and recovered from coronavirus symptoms in this time
  • you get a negative test result for coronavirus

You should apply for a coronavirus test as soon as you develop symptoms. You can call NHS 119 to arrange for a test if you do not have access to the internet.

If you’re not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19 you should self-isolate for 10 days starting from the day the test was taken.

If you have tested positive whilst not experiencing symptoms but develop symptoms during the isolation period, you should restart the 10 day isolation period from the day you develop symptoms.

If your test for coronavirus is positive you will be asked to share your contacts with the NHS test and trace service. Your contact detail declaration may be used to alert people who travelled to the UK alongside you.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service, or call NHS 111 if you do not have internet access, if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

For a medical emergency dial 999.

Others in your household

If you are staying with others on the farm and you develop symptoms, the household or group (cohort) that you are staying and working with will need to begin self-isolating.

If you get symptoms of coronavirus the whole household or group (cohort) that you are staying and working with will need to begin to self isolate.

After your first 14 days in the UK

If you do not have any coronavirus symptoms during or after 14 days you’ll then need to follow the same rules as people who live in the UK.

Check the rules for the part of the UK you’re staying in:

You must wear a face covering in some public places unless you have a face covering exemption because of your age, health or another condition.

Employing seasonal workers from overseas

Follow this guidance if you’re a grower, labour provider or agency bringing workers from overseas to work on farms in England.

You must make sure that workers have documentary evidence to confirm that they are travelling to your farm to carry out seasonal agricultural work. Workers must have these documents before they travel.

Within 2 hours of workers arriving at the farm, you should give them:

You should ask workers to give written confirmation that they have received and understood this information.

If workers have travelled from a non-exempt country, for the first 14 days you should put workers into groups and strictly limit contact with others outside of those groups.

Check the list of exempt countries and DHSC guidance on travelling to the UK.

The size of these groups will depend on the practicalities of self-isolating groups of workers on your farm should they subsequently develop disease. The group should be made up of workers arriving on the farm within 24 hours of each other.

When working, ensure that your operations follow:

If anyone in the group develops coronavirus symptoms, follow guidance on what to do if an individual gets coronavirus symptoms.

At the end of 14 days self-isolation on farm

After 14 days of arrival from a non-exempt country, if no-one in the group tests positive or has any coronavirus symptoms, or 14 days after the group is isolated due to a positive test, employers should ensure that workers are aware of:

Published 3 June 2020
Last updated 12 October 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated with a link to guidance on COVID-19 alert levels.

  2. Updated Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian translations.

  3. Updated Bulgarian translation.

  4. Updated the Polish and Romanian versions.

  5. Updated guidance under the 'Travelling from an exempt country' heading.

  6. Updated with guidance for travellers coming from countries that are exempt from quarantine rules.

  7. First published.