Guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing before you travel to England

You must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test to travel to England from abroad.

Myanmar – change to requirement for pre-departure testing

The present situation in Myanmar means that it is not reasonable to seek to obtain a pre-departure coronavirus test in that country before departure to England. This guidance will be reviewed every 10 days.

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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’re a UK citizen
  • you’ve already had the COVID-19 vaccine

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 must take the test on the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

Short video on testing rules

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 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

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.

If you take your test in the UK

If you take your test in the UK, ahead of a return journey of less than 3 days, you must use a private test provider. You cannot use a National Health Service (NHS) test.

Test providers and type of test

You will need to find a test provider. You must make sure that the test provider 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.

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.

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
  • Ascension, Falkland Islands, St Helena, 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

Exempt jobs

People doing the following jobs do not need to take a test:

  • border and customs officials
  • channel tunnel system workers
  • hauliers
  • air, maritime and rail crew
  • civil aviation inspectors
  • people transporting human cells and blood products
  • seamen and masters and inspectors and surveyors of ships
  • specialist technical workers - goods and services

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.

Quarantining when you arrive in England

After you arrive in England, you must:

  • take 2 coronavirus tests - you’ll need to book these before you travel
  • quarantine for 10 days - either in the place you’re staying or in a quarantine hotel

Where you need to quarantine depends on where you have been in the 10 days before you arrive in England.

You have to take these tests and quarantine, even though you provided a negative test result to enter England.

Shortening your quarantine period - Test to Release scheme

You can shorten your quarantine period if you pay for a COVID-19 test after isolating for 5 days. This is known as the Test to Release for International Travel scheme.

The Test to Release scheme is not available to anyone who has been in or through any country that is on the travel ban red list in the 10 days before arrival in England.

Published 13 January 2021
Last updated 19 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. Myanmar added to list of countries where you do not need to take a coronavirus test before travel to England.

  2. Information about new testing, self-isolation and quarantine rules from 15 February.

  3. Travel corridors suspended.

  4. First published.

  1. Step 1 Plan your trip during coronavirus (COVID-19)

  2. Step 2 Get your passport ready

    You need to have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to many countries. Check entry requirements for the country you want to travel to.

    1. Check your passport has enough time left on it for the country you're visiting
    2. Renew or replace your passport
    3. Get a passport for your child
  3. and Check if you need a visa or permit

  4. and Check if you need a permit to drive abroad

  5. and Check how to take your pet abroad

  6. Step 3 Get travel insurance and check if you need vaccinations or inoculations

  7. Step 4 Travel safely and check for travel disruption

  8. Step 5 Going through border control

    You may need to show paperwork such as your passport or visa, or a negative coronavirus test result at the point of entry.

    1. Check the entry requirements for the country you are travelling to or transiting through
  9. Step 6 When you are abroad

  10. and If you are unable to return to the UK

  11. Step 7 Return to the UK

  12. and When you arrive in the UK