Guidance

How to quarantine and test at home if you've been in a red list country and have permission to quarantine at home

Quarantine and testing requirements for people allowed to quarantine at home after arriving in England from a red list country, including rules for their households

Applies to England

Check which countries and territories are on the red list and read the red list rules.

You should follow different guidance if you have not been in a country on the red list in the 10 days before you arrive in England.

Read the standard rules for entering England from abroad.

This guidance sets out the quarantine and testing requirements for people who have been granted an exemption from managed quarantine in England and are instead required to quarantine at home or the place they are staying.

This guidance is for:

You can read more about unaccompanied minors getting an exemption from managed quarantine in the ‘Unaccompanied minors’ section of the detailed guidance for red list arrivals.

If you qualify for a job-related exemption, the guidance on this page does not apply to you. You must follow the separate guidance on the conditions you need to meet and the specific entry requirements for your job.

How to quarantine

Managed quarantine is intended to help protect the UK from potentially harmful variants of COVID-19.

If you are coming to England from a red list country and have been granted an exemption from managed quarantine for medical or compassionate reasons, or because you are an unaccompanied minor who does not have a responsible adult to join you in managed quarantine, you must:

  • quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days (the day you arrive in England is day 0), or longer if you test positive for COVID-19
  • provide the names of household members at the address where you intend to quarantine - everyone in the household in which you are quarantining must also isolate for the full quarantine period
  • take a day 2 test for variant surveillance – on or before day 2
  • take a day 8 test to check that you do not have COVID-19 – on or after day 8

You’ll need to present evidence on arrival at the border that you’ve been granted an exemption. You also need to have booked and paid for the day 2 and day 8 tests through NHS UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency). You cannot book these tests through any other provider.

You must follow these rules even if you have been fully vaccinated.

Booking your day 2 and day 8 tests

You must book a day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 testing package through NHS UKHSA.

You will need to enter the booking reference number when you complete your passenger locator form.

When you receive your day 2 and day 8 test kits, you must send the 11-character test kit barcodes either:

How to travel to the location where you will be quarantining

When you arrive in England, you must travel directly to the place where you will be quarantining. This must be the location you specified when you applied for an exemption from managed quarantine.

You must not use public transport to travel to your place of quarantine.

Household quarantine

To reduce the risk of a new variant of COVID-19 being transmitted from someone coming into the UK, your entire household must isolate with you for the full quarantine period. If the duration of your stay in the UK is less than 10 days, your household must still quarantine for full quarantine period, as if you are still part of the household.

This means that if you tested negative on your day 2 and day 8 tests and have left the UK, your household members must quarantine for a full 10 days.

If you have not taken your day 8 test or have not received the results of your day 8 test and have left the UK, your household members must quarantine for a full 14 days. The day you arrive in England is day 0.

A household is a group of people (who may or may not be related) living at the same address who share cooking facilities, bathrooms or toilets, or living areas.

You must provide the names of your household members in your application for an exemption from managed quarantine. You will be asked to do this when you apply for your exemption. Your household will be informed of their duty to quarantine by the Managed Quarantine Service. You should also inform your household before you travel that they will have to quarantine when you arrive.

Household members do not have to take a test on day 2 and day 8. However, if members of your household have symptoms of COVID-19, they should arrange to have a home test.

You are required by law to follow the quarantine rules. If you break the quarantine rules, you may face a penalty of up to £10,000.

Members of your household are required to follow the quarantine rules. If a member of your household breaks the quarantine rules, they may face a penalty of up to £10,000.

Your household does not need to isolate from you. However, you can choose to reduce the contact you have with your household to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

The entire household must follow these rules even if they’ve been fully vaccinated. The purpose of quarantine is to reduce the risk of a new variant of COVID-19 being transmitted from someone coming into the UK, protecting the UK’s vaccination programme.

In some limited circumstances, you or members of your household may be eligible for an exemption from the requirement to quarantine at home. You or members of your household should apply for an exemption in advance in line with guidance on medical and compassionate exemptions.

If any household members will not be staying in your place of quarantine at any time in the quarantine period, they do not have to quarantine. In this case, they should email mqs_exemption_update@dhsc.gov.uk as soon as possible before the start of the quarantine period, quoting their Managed Quarantine Service reference number. They should provide details of where they plan to stay instead of your place of quarantine.

How long to quarantine for

Following your arrival in England, you must quarantine at home or in the place you’re staying for either:

  • 10 full days, or longer if you test positive for COVID-19 or if you do not receive a day 8 test result
  • the duration of your stay in the UK if it’s less than the full quarantine period

Your household must quarantine for the full quarantine period, even if the duration of your stay in the UK is less than the full quarantine period.

The day you arrive in England is day 0.

If you test positive for COVID-19 during your quarantine period, you and members of your household must restart your 10 days of quarantine (the day you took the positive test is the new day 0).

You do not need to quarantine on arrival or take a COVID-19 test on day 2 and day 8 if you are transiting through England to international destinations within 24 hours of your arrival. For more information, see Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer air travel for passengers.

If you get a positive day 2 or day 8 test

If your day 2 or day 8 test is positive for COVID-19, you and members of your household must restart your 10 days of quarantine. The day that you took the positive test will count as the new day 0.

If you have extended your quarantine because of a positive test result but did not have any symptoms, and you then develop COVID-19 symptoms within your quarantine period, you and your household must restart your 10 days of quarantine (the new day 0 is the day you developed symptoms).

The only people who do not have to restart their quarantine if you test positive are household members who have already tested positive during the quarantine period. If a household member has already tested positive during the quarantine period, they need to complete their restarted 10 days and do not need to extend their quarantine again if you or someone else tests positive.

If you get a positive result from your day 2 test, you do not need to take a test on day 8. Being fully vaccinated does not change this requirement.

You will be given further advice with your test results.

If a household member gets a positive COVID-19 test

If members of your household have symptoms of COVID-19 or have a positive rapid lateral flow device (LFD) antigen test, they should arrange to have a home test.

If a household member gets a positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result for COVID-19, you and your household members must extend your quarantine period for a further 10 days (the new day 0 is the day the household member developed symptoms or tested positive).

If you have extended your quarantine because of a household member’s positive test result but they did not have any symptoms, and they then develop COVID-19 symptoms within the quarantine period, you and your household must restart your 10 days of quarantine (the new day 0 is the day the household member developed symptoms).

The only people who do not have to restart their quarantine when someone else tests positive are those who have already tested positive during the quarantine period. If someone has already tested positive during the quarantine period, they need to complete their restarted 10 days and do not need to extend their quarantine again if someone else tests positive.

If you get symptoms

You should order a test if you develop at least one of these 3 COVID-19 symptoms, even if mild, at any point:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste, or if they have changed

Visitors

You cannot have visitors, including friends and family, unless they’re providing:

Going out

Unless you’re at risk of harm, you cannot leave the premises where you’re in quarantine. You must only exercise inside the place where you’re quarantining or in your private garden (this garden cannot be shared with members of other households). You cannot leave the place where you’re quarantining to walk your dog. You will need to ask friends or relatives to help you with this.

If you’re at risk of harm

If you’re at risk of harm (for example in cases of domestic abuse), you can leave the place where you’re quarantining.

Shopping

You must not go shopping. If you need help buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, you should ask friends or relatives, order a delivery or ask for help from NHS Volunteer Responders.

Posting your tests

You can leave your accommodation to post your COVID-19 tests for processing. If possible, it is preferable that friends or relatives not in your household post your tests for you. If this is not possible, you should ask a member of your household to post your test for you.

If you have to leave the premises, you should avoid public transport.

Exceptional circumstances

You are only allowed to leave your accommodation in exceptional circumstances, such as: needing urgent medical assistance, on the advice of a medical professional, to access critical public services including social services and services provided to victims (such as victims of crime).

Other members of your household can leave your accommodation for reasons above. Members of your household can also leave your accommodation in other exceptional circumstances including:

  • getting basic urgent necessities like food and medicines where you cannot arrange for these to be delivered
  • posting a COVID-19 test

There may be other exceptional circumstances that allow you or members of your household to leave your place of quarantine.

You could get advice from a medical or other professional to help decide whether your circumstances are exceptional and require you to leave your place of quarantine.

Checks to make sure you’re following quarantine rules

In-person compliance visits are done on a regular basis to check that you and your household are complying with your legal duties to quarantine.

Read more about the checks carried out to make sure you’re following quarantine rules.

Ending quarantine

If you’ve quarantined for 10 full days (the day you arrive in England is day 0) and received a negative result to both your day 2 and day 8 tests, and you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, you and your household may leave the place where you’re quarantining.

If you received a positive COVID-19 test and have quarantined with your household for 10 full days (the day you took the positive test or the day you first developed symptoms is the new day 0), and your household members do not have symptoms of COVID-19, you and your household may leave the place where you’re quarantining.

If members of your household received a positive COVID-19 test, you and your household members must extend your quarantine period for a further 10 days (the new day 0 is the day the household member developed symptoms or tested positive). The only people who do not have to restart their quarantine when someone tests positive are household members who have already tested positive during the quarantine period. If a household member has already tested positive during the quarantine period, they need to complete their restarted 10 days and do not need to extend their quarantine again if you or someone else tests positive.

If you have not taken a day 8 test or the results of this test have not arrived, you must quarantine for 14 full days (where day 0 is your day of arrival). Your entire household must also quarantine with you for the full quarantine period. If your household members receive a positive COVID-19 test, they will be given further advice with their test results.

If you have not received your day 8 test, you should contact NHS UKHSA who will issue a replacement test.

If you have not received your day 8 test result by day 10, call 119 and quote your 11-character test kit barcode, stating that you are a red list traveller quarantining at home and that you have not received your day 8 result. The agent may be able to find your test result, and if not, issue a new test kit.

Published 24 September 2021
Last updated 8 December 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated links to book day 2 and day 8 tests with new mandatory provider.

  2. Added content about changes to restrictions as a result of the SARS-COV-2 OMCIRON variant. Four more countries have been added to the red list.

  3. Added content explaining that South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe moved onto the red list at midday on Friday 26 November. A temporary flight ban is now in place and all travellers who have been in these countries must quarantine and take tests.

  4. Updated household quarantine section: added information on what household members should do if they will not be staying in the place of quarantine during the quarantine period; explained what household members must do if the traveller’s stay in the UK is less than 10 days. Added information about what the traveller and household members must do if the traveller tests positive for COVID-19. Added a new section on what to do if household members test positive for COVID-19. Updated the contact email address for MQS.

  5. First published.