You must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test to travel to England from abroad.
Take a coronavirus test before you travel to England
You must have proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test to travel to England.
You must take a test even if:
- you’ve been vaccinated
- you’re traveling from a country or territory on the green list
- you’re a UK citizen
You must take the test in the 3 days before the service on which you will arrive in England departs.
For example, if you travel directly to England on Friday, you can take the test on or after Tuesday and will need to have the negative result available before boarding on Friday.
How to provide proof of a negative test result
Your test result can be provided as:
- a printed document
- an email or text message you can show on your phone - make sure your device is charged
If you do not have proof of a negative test result
If you do not present proof you tested negative, you may not be able to board your transport to England.
If you arrive in England without proof you tested negative, you could be fined £500.
Where to take your test
You will need to find a private test provider to take a test.
You can choose to take a test:
- in the place where you start your journey
- in another country on your way to England, if you are travelling through another country
Where information about providers of tests is available locally, FCDO travel advice pages will be updated with this information. If you need consular assistance, contact the nearest consulate, embassy or high commission.
Taking a test on your journey to England
If your journey to England is long, and will involve stopping in another country on the way, you should try to take a test in the country you’re travelling through. This is so you take the test in the 3 days before you board the final service to England.
For example, if you’re driving from Germany and you stop for a few days in Belgium, you should take a test in Belgium.
If you’re travelling by plane and changing flights, where possible you should get a test within 3 days of your final departure point to England.
Check that you will be able to get a test
If you plan to take a test in a country on your way to England, you must make sure that this is possible before you set out. Some countries have entry restrictions in place, which mean you may not be able to get tested there.
If you do not have proof of a test because you planned to get tested on your journey, but you were not able to do so because you were not able to enter the country in which you planned to get tested, you will be allowed to board. But you may be fined £500 on arrival in England because you do not have a valid test result.
NHS tests cannot be used for the purpose of pre-departure testing before travel to England.
You cannot take an NHS test abroad with you to use on yourself before you return.
Taking your test in the UK before travel
If you are returning to the UK within 3 days, you can use the result of a COVID-19 test that you take in the UK before you travel. You must use a private test provider for the test and not an NHS test.
The service on which you will arrive back in the UK must set off for the UK within 3 days of when you took the test.
Type of test
You must make sure that the test provider you choose can meet the standards for pre-departure testing.
The test must meet performance standards of ≥97% specificity, ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml.
This could include tests such as:
- a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests
- an antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device
It’s your responsibility to ensure the test meets the minimum standards for sensitivity, specificity and viral load details. You must check with your test provider that it meets those standards.
You may not be able to travel if the test does not meet these standards. It’s your responsibility to ensure you get the right test that meets the above requirements.
Information that the test result must include
Your test result must be in either English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted.
You must provide the original test result notification. It must include the following information:
- your name, which should match the name on your travel documents
- your date of birth or age
- the result of the test
- the date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
- the name of the test provider and their contact details
- confirmation of the device used for the test, or that the test was a PCR test
If the test result does not include this information you may not be able to board, and may not be able to travel to England. If you arrive without a test result that includes this information, you might have to pay a £500 fine.
Positive test results
If your test result is positive, you must not travel. You must follow local rules and guidance for positive coronavirus cases.
If the result is inconclusive, you must take another test.
British nationals who need consular assistance should contact the nearest consulate, embassy or high commission.
Exemptions – people who do not need to take a test
Travel from some countries
You do not need to take a test if you began your journey to England from:
- Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey
- Falkland Islands, St Helena, Ascension or Myanmar
Children and medical reasons
Children aged under 11 do not need to take a test.
You do not need to take a test if you are travelling to the UK:
- for urgent medical treatment or are accompanying someone who is travelling for urgent medical treatment, and it is not reasonably practical for you to obtain a negative COVID-19 test in the 3 days before departure
- if you have a medical condition which means you cannot take a test – you must present a note from a medical practitioner at check in and to Border Force staff on arrival in England
People doing the following jobs do not need to take a test:
- border and customs officials
- channel tunnel system workers
- air, maritime and rail crew
- civil aviation inspectors
- people transporting human cells and blood products
- seamen and masters and inspectors and surveyors of ships
Also, in limited circumstances:
- defence personnel, visiting forces and government contractors
- foreign government officials
- UK government officials conducting essential state business, essential government work or essential policing
Read more details of these job exemptions to see if they apply to you.
Passenger locator form
You must complete a passenger locator form before you travel to England.
Testing and quarantine after you arrive in England
You also need to take COVID-19 tests after you arrive in England. Find out about:
- booking COVID-19 tests if you’ve been in a green or amber list country
- booking and staying in a quarantine hotel if you’ve been in a red list country
Test to Release scheme - shortening your quarantine period
If you need to quarantine because you have been in or through a country on the amber list, you may be able to end quarantine early through the Test to Release scheme.
You cannot use the Test to Release scheme if you have been in or through a country or territory on the red list in the 10 days before you arrive in England.