Guidance

Quarantine and testing if you've been in an amber list country

What to do before and after you arrive in England if you’ve been in an amber list country in the 10 days before you arrive.

Applies to England

Changes to international travel rules

From Monday 4 October 2021, the rules for international travel to England will change.

The rules in this guidance are for those who have been in amber list countries in the 10 days before arriving in England.

There are different rules if you’ve also been in or travelled through a red list country.

Find out the green list country rules.

There’s also a step-by-step guide for travelling to England from another country.

Take a coronavirus test before you travel to England

Before you travel to England you must take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test (pre-departure test).

You must do this even if you’ve been fully vaccinated.

You could be fined £500 if you arrive in England without proof of a negative COVID-19 pre-departure test.

Job exemptions

Some jobs exempt you from needing to quarantine and/or take a test.

See the list of jobs that are exempt, and what the exemption covers.

If you’re not exempt you need to follow these rules.

Rules if you’re fully vaccinated

If you’re coming to England from an amber list country and have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the bodies listed in this guide you:

  • must take a COVID-19 pre-departure test
  • must take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 after you arrive in England – arrival day is day 0
  • do not have to quarantine when you arrive in England

See ‘How to book day 2 and day 8 tests’ below for information on booking your day 2 test.

Approved vaccines

You must have been fully vaccinated under one of the following programmes:

  • UK vaccination programme, approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
  • UK vaccine programme overseas, approved by the MHRA
  • an approved vaccination programme in Europe or the USA – not all are recognised in England

Recognised vaccines for Europe

You must have been fully vaccinated in:

  • an EU country
  • Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican City

If you were vaccinated in a different European country it will not be recognised in England.

The vaccine must have been authorised by:

  • the European Medicines Agency (EMA)
  • Swissmedic for Switzerland

Recognised vaccines for the USA

Residents in the USA must have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

UK vaccine programme overseas

The UK vaccine programme overseas applies to:

  • residents of the British Overseas Territories, Channel Islands and Isle of Man

  • crown servants, UK government civilian and military staff and UK government contractors posted or based overseas

What counts as fully vaccinated

You may not be considered to be fully vaccinated for the purpose of entering the UK even if you’re considered to be fully vaccinated in your country of origin.

In the UK, ‘fully vaccinated’ means you’ve had either:

  • 2 doses of an approved 2 dose vaccine (such as Pfizer or AstraZeneca)
  • one dose of an approved single dose vaccine (such as Janssen)

You must have had your final dose at least 14 whole days before you arrive in England. The day you had your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days.

2 dose vaccines

If you were vaccinated with a 2 dose vaccine (such as Moderna or Pfizer) you must have had both doses to be considered fully vaccinated. This applies in all cases, even if you have recently recovered from COVID-19 and have natural immunity. Those who have had COVID-19 and have only had one dose of a 2 dose vaccine must follow the rules for unvaccinated arrivals.

Each dose must be with the same (MHRA, EMA, Swissmedic or FDA) approved vaccine. For example, if your first dose was Moderna your second dose must also be Moderna.

For the UK programmes you can have one dose under the UK vaccination programme and the other under the UK vaccine overseas programme.

Single dose vaccines

If you had an approved one dose vaccine, such as Janssen, you are fully vaccinated.

Proving you’ve been fully vaccinated

You’ll need to show your travel operator and border control proof you’ve been fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.

You’ll also need to confirm that you’ve been fully vaccinated and can show suitable proof on your passenger locator form.

If you cannot (or prefer not to) show proof that you’ve been fully vaccinated you must follow the rules for those who are not fully vaccinated. These are in this guide.

What you need to show as proof depends on your vaccination programme.

Proof of the UK vaccination programme

You need to show one of the following as proof:

  • NHS COVID Pass
  • COVD-19 post-vaccination letter from the NHS, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales, or the Department of Health in Northern Ireland

Proof of the UK vaccine programme overseas

You need to apply directly to the government of your Overseas Territory for a letter of proof. The letter should clearly state that you’ve been fully vaccinated under the UK overseas vaccine programme.

Make sure you check with them that the letter is valid for entry to England.

Proof of an approved European vaccination programme

You need to show an EU Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC), showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA or Swissmedic-approved vaccine in one of the listed European countries.

You can show either a digital or paper certificate.

Proof of an approved USA vaccination programme

You need to show a CDC card showing you’ve had a full course of an FDA-approved vaccine in the USA.

You’ll also need to show proof of residency, such as a USA passport, visa or Green Card.

Taking part in a UK or USA vaccine trial

You can follow the same rules as the fully vaccinated if you’re taking part in a:

  • UK-approved COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial
  • FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial in the USA

For UK trials find out what you can show as proof to a travel operator and border control.

For USA trials you can prove your status with a CDC card. You’ll also need to show proof of residency, such as a USA passport, visa or Green Card.

You will need to declare your vaccine trial status on your passenger locator form.

If your day 2 test result is positive

If your day 2 test result is positive, you and your household must self-isolate for 10 full days. The day of the test is day 0.

You will be given further advice with your test result.

Contact with someone who tested positive

If NHS Test and Trace notify you that you’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive you must self-isolate for 10 days unless any of the following apply:

  • you’re fully vaccinated under the UK or UK overseas vaccination programme
  • you’re under the age of 18 years and 6 months
  • you’re taking part in an approved UK COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • you’re not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

Read detailed guidance on what to do if you’re contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

Rules if you are not fully vaccinated

If you’re coming to England from an amber list country and are not fully vaccinated with an authorised vaccine you must:

  • quarantine on arrival at home or in the place you’re staying
  • take a day 2 test after you arrive in England – on or before day 2
  • take a day 8 test after you arrive in England – on or after day 8

The day you arrive is day 0.

If your day 2 test is positive you do not have to take the day 8 test.

Read ‘How to book day 2 and day 8 tests’ below for information on booking the tests.

How long to quarantine for

It does not matter how long you’re visiting England you must quarantine at home or in the place you’re staying for either:

  • 10 full days
  • the duration of your trip if it’s less than 10 days

See the section in this guide on how to quarantine.

If your day 2 or day 8 test result is positive

If you test positive for COVID-19 you and your household must quarantine for 10 days from the day after you took the test.

The day of the test is day 0.

You will be given further advice with your test results.

If your day 2 test is positive you do not have to take a day 8 test.

If you have a variant of concern

If your day 2 test shows you have a COVID-19 variant known as a ‘variant of concern’ you will get another call. Your contacts will be asked to take a test.

Rules for children and young people

The rules for children depend on age and country of residency.

Children resident in the UK, British Overseas Territories, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, USA or a recognised European country

The recognised European countries are the EU countries, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland or the Vatican City.

Children of all ages who are resident in these countries or territories do not have to quarantine.

If they are aged 4 and under they do not have to take any COVID-19 travel tests.

11 to 17 year olds must take a:

5 to 10 year olds:

  • do not have to take a pre-departure test
  • must take a day 2 test on or before day 2 – arrival day is day 0

Children resident in other countries

Children aged 5 to 17 who are resident in any other country must:

  • take a COVID-19 pre-departure test (if aged 11 or above) before travelling to England
  • take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 in England – arrival day is day 0
  • take a COVID-19 test on or after day 8 in England – arrival day is day 0
  • quarantine at home or in the place they’re staying for 10 days, or for the duration of their stay if it’s less than 10 days

Children aged 4 or under from these other countries do not have to take travel tests.

They must follow quarantining rules.

How to book day 2 and day 8 tests

Check the rules above to see if you need to book tests for day 2 only, or day 2 and day 8.

You must book and pay for the tests before you travel.

You could be fined up to £2,000 if you do not take the required tests.

Ordering your tests

You must order your tests from a private provider. You cannot use NHS COVID-19 tests for your day 2 or day 8 tests.

Make sure you leave enough time for the tests to be delivered to your address in England.

You will need to enter the booking reference number on your passenger locator form. You must fill this in before you travel to England.

If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days

Day 2 and day 8 travel tests are PCR tests.

You must book and take these tests even if you’ve had a positive PCR test result in the last 90 days.

The advice not to take PCR tests if you’ve had a positive test result in the last 90 days does not apply to travel tests.

If you leave England before you have to take your test

It does not matter how long you’re visiting England, you still have to book and pay for the tests.

For example, even if you’re only going to be in England for one day, you’ll still need to book your required tests.

You only need to take the tests if you’re still in England.

How to quarantine if you need to

If you have to quarantine when you arrive in England, you must travel directly to the place you’re staying.

You must not leave until 10 days have passed.

The quarantine period is continuous from the day you arrive in England, and lasts for the next 10 full days after the day you arrived until 11:59pm on day 10. This period is necessary because it can take up to 10 days for COVID-19 symptoms to appear.

To count the days:

  • the day you arrive in England is day 0
  • the day after you arrive is day 1, and so on

If you’re travelling to England for less than 10 days

If you’re travelling to England for less than 10 days, you will need to quarantine for the whole of your stay.

You must still book your day 2 and day 8 travel tests, even if you will no longer be in England on the dates of the tests.

You only need to take the tests if you’re still in the country on those dates.

Test to Release

You can end your quarantine early through the Test to Release scheme – you’ll find details below in the ‘Ending quarantine’ section.

How to travel to the place where you’re quarantining

When you arrive in England, go straight to the place you’re staying to quarantine. Only use public transport if you have no other option, and make sure you follow safer travel guidance for passengers.

If you have or develop COVID-19 symptoms

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, it’s important that you do not travel by public transport.

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms when you’re travelling to England, you should tell one of the crew on your plane, boat, train or bus. They’ll let staff in the airport, port or station know, so they can tell you what you should do next when you arrive.

Long journeys to your quarantine accommodation

If you have a long journey within the UK to arrive at the place where you’ll be quarantining, you may be able to stop overnight in accommodation where you can quarantine yourself from others before continuing your journey.

You must follow the guidance on how to stay safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. You must quarantine and provide the address of your overnight stop on your passenger locator form in addition to your declared accommodation address.

What you can and cannot do in quarantine

You must quarantine at the address you provided on the passenger locator form. This can include staying:

  • in your own home
  • with friends or family
  • in a standard hotel or other temporary accommodation

Amber list arrivals cannot quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel – these are for red list arrivals only.

You must quarantine in one place for the full quarantine period, where you can have food and other necessities delivered.

Quarantining safely

As soon as you arrive at your place of quarantine you should, as far as possible, avoid contact with other people in the place where you’re quarantining to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

You should stay in a well ventilated room with an outside window that can be opened, separate from other people in your home.

If you’re staying in a hotel or guest house, you must stay away from others who did not travel with you. You must not use shared areas such as bars, restaurants, health clubs and sports facilities.

Stay 2 metres apart from other people staying there at all times.

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 the garden. 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 or order a delivery or ask for help from NHS Volunteer Responders.

Getting or posting your tests

Where your testing provider conducts the day 2 and day 8 tests at a test site you can leave the house for your test. Where your tests are delivered and self-administered, if there is no one in your household or bubble who can post the test for processing, you can leave the premises to post your test.

If you have to leave the premises, you should follow safer travel guidance and avoid public transport if possible.

Exceptional circumstances

You can leave your accommodation in certain exceptional circumstances. This includes needing to:

  • get basic urgent necessities like food and medicines where you cannot arrange for these to be delivered
  • travel to a COVID-19 testing site
  • access critical public services including social services and services provided to victims (such as victims of crime)
  • move to a different place for quarantine where you can no longer remain where you are

There may be other exceptional circumstances that allow you 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.

Even if you have an exception, you must continue to follow the general restrictions that apply.

What to do if you get COVID-19 symptoms

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

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed

Rules for the people you’re staying with

The people you’re staying with do not need to quarantine, unless:

  • they travelled with you
  • you or someone in the place where you’re staying develop symptoms of COVID-19
  • you get a positive test result for your day 2 or day 8 test

If any of these things apply, your household must quarantine with you, following the same rules and for the same length of time as you.

Ending quarantine

If you’ve quarantined for 10 full days (where day 0 is the day you took the test or had symptoms) and received a negative result to both your day 2 and day 8 tests, and you are well, you may leave the place where you’re quarantining.

Ending quarantine early using Test to Release

Under the Test to Release scheme you can choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test on day 5. If the result is negative (and the result of your day 2 test was negative or inconclusive), you can end your quarantine.

You do not have to do this – it’s a voluntary test.

You must still book and take your mandatory day 2 and day 8 travel tests, even if your Test to Release result is negative.

Find out more about Test to Release, including a link to providers offering this test.

Checks to make sure you’re following quarantine rules

While you quarantine, NHS Test and Trace will contact you daily to confirm you’re following quarantine rules. You may also be visited by staff carrying out in-person checks on behalf of Test and Trace to make sure you’re complying with your legal duty to quarantine. Read more about the checks carried out to make sure you’re following quarantine rules.

If you break the quarantine rules, you may face a penalty of up to £10,000.

Support to help you quarantine

Quarantining may be difficult, frustrating or lonely. NHS Volunteer Responders are available if:

  • you need help collecting shopping or medication
  • you’d like a friendly chat

Call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm) to arrange support. You can arrange one-off support, or schedule more regular help while you’re quarantining.

You can also get help looking after your mental health.

Changing the place where you’re quarantining

You are not allowed to change the place where you’re quarantining except in very limited circumstances, including where:

  • a legal obligation requires you to change address, such as when you’re a child whose parents live separately, and you need to move between homes as part of a shared custody agreement
  • it’s necessary and permissible for you to stay overnight at accommodation before travelling to the place where you will be quarantining for the remaining period

If this happens, you must provide full details of each address where you will quarantine on the passenger locator form. If, in exceptional circumstances, you cannot remain where you’re staying, you can move to a new place to quarantine and you must complete a new passenger locator form as soon as possible.

Circumstances not covered by this guidance

If you’re intending to travel to the UK in the next 7 days and facing a set of circumstances that are not covered by this guidance, email your enquiry to dhsctesttrace.customerfeedbackteam@nhs.net.

Make sure you include your date of travel.

Published 11 February 2021
Last updated 17 September 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added a reference to the new rules for international travel to England which will take effect on 4 October, including a link to more details. Clarified the testing ages for children resident in other countries (children under 11 do not need a pre-departure test before entering England).

  2. Added content to make it clear that you cannot use NHS COVID-19 tests for your day 2 or day 8 travel tests. Added a new paragraph explaining that advice not to take PCR tests if you've had a positive test result in the last 90 days does not apply to travel tests.

  3. Added further clarifications on the rules for 2 dose vaccines in the 'What counts as fully vaccinated' section.

  4. Removed references to rules for visitors arriving from France, as these no longer apply. Added information on what to do if NHS Test and Trace notify you that you've been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

  5. Added information about natural immunity.

  6. Corrected an error for vaccination rules for the UK. For 2 dose vaccines, you must have the same approved vaccine for each dose for you to be considered fully vaccinated. Also, clarified the European countries in the section on children.

  7. Clarified fully vaccinated rules for the UK and UK overseas programmes in 'What counts as fully vaccinated'.

  8. Clarification of 'fully vaccinated' rules. For Europe and USA - if you had a 2-dose vaccine both doses must be of the same approved vaccine type. For the UK you can have different types of an approved vaccine for each dose.

  9. update to rules on children - added in the the rule changes that are coming for France - these apply to adults and children

  10. Updated information for those vaccinated in Europe or the USA. Rule changes for France added. Updated information on booking travel tests. More information added for those from the British Overseas Territories and how to prove their vaccination status.

  11. Updated information about arrivals from France. The new rules will come into effect on 8 August.

  12. Added information about red list countries to the new rules for those vaccinated in Europe and USA.

  13. Update to vaccination rules for most European countries and the USA. The new rules will come into effect on 2 August.

  14. Added information on the UK vaccine programme overseas. Clarified the quarantine and testing requirements for children and young people.

  15. Updated the guidance to reflect the changes to the testing and quarantine rules for amber list arrivals from 19 July. Includes new rules for people who have been fully vaccinated under the UK vaccination programme, and information for arrivals from France.

  16. Updated the content about the rule changes for amber list arrivals that will take place on 19 July with important information about arrivals from France.

  17. Update to 'Changes to international travel rules for amber list countries'.

  18. Explained that the quarantine and testing rules will change on 19 July for people arriving in England from amber list countries who have been fully vaccinated.

  19. Updated to reflect new rules for amber and green list countries.

  20. Updated to include the ability of amber and green arrivals to travel to a test site for their day 2 and day 8 tests.

  21. Added a reference to the new rules on entering England after international travel from 17 May, including a link to the new guidance. Expanded the information on how NHS Test and Trace will contact you when you quarantine.

  22. Added a reference and link to the guidance 'Self-isolation compliance checks after international travel'.

  23. Updated content to reflect the changes in national restrictions. Clarified length of quarantine periods. Clarified circumstances in which you are permitted to leave home quarantine. Removed references to limitations on eligibility for hardship support.

  24. Update to clarify details on travelling to get your test swab taken and how to raise issues with your test product.

  25. Clarified information on quarantine time periods.

  26. Added that day-2 tests may be taken in-clinic with an organisation on the list of providers of day 2 and day 8 coronavirus testing for international arrivals.

  27. Updated to include a link to the list of providers for Day 2 and Day 8 testing and book a travel test package.

  28. Added section on testing in quarantine.

  29. Includes new link, to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-jobs-with-testing-travel-exemptions

  30. Re-inserted link to booking platform as the service is live again.

  31. First published.

  1. Step 1 Plan your trip

  2. Step 2 Get your passport, visas and permits ready

    How much time you need on your passport depends on the country you're visiting. Check the 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

    You may also need a visa to enter some countries.

    1. Check if you need a visa or permit
  3. Step 3 Get travel insurance and check if you need vaccinations or inoculations

  4. Step 4 Travel safely during COVID-19

  5. Step 5 Going through border control

    You may need to show paperwork such as your passport or visa. You may also need a negative COVID-19 test result or to demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccination status at the point of entry.

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

  7. Step 7 Before you return to the UK

  8. Step 8 After you arrive in the UK