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.

What you must do – an overview

If you’ve been in an amber list country in the 10 days before you arrive in England, once you arrive you must:

  • quarantine at home or in the place you’re staying for 10 days (the day you arrive in England is day 0)
  • take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of quarantining (children aged 4 and under do not need to take these tests)
  • follow the national restrictions

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.

You should follow separate advice if you need to quarantine in:

You should follow different guidance if you’ve been in a red list or green list country.

Before you travel to England

Before you travel to England you must:

If you arrive in England without proof you tested negative, you could be fined £500.

How to book your day 2 and day 8 travel tests

You’ll need to order your day 2 and day 8 travel tests from a private provider in the UK.

You must book and pay for these tests before you travel to England and enter the booking reference number on your passenger locator form.

See ‘Taking your day 2 and day 8 tests’ below for more information on these tests.

How long you need to quarantine

When you arrive in England, you must travel directly to the place you’re staying and 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.

Ending quarantine early using Test to Release

You can choose to take an extra test, called ‘Test to Release’, to see if you can end quarantine early. You do not have to do this - it’s a voluntary test, and you’ll need to pay for it.

You take the test on or after day 5. If the result is negative, you can end quarantine early.

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.

Testing and quarantine rules for children

Children aged 4 and under do not need to take the day 2 or day 8 test.

Children of all ages need to quarantine at home or in the place they’re staying for 10 full days (the day of arrival in England is day 0).

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 check that the overnight stay is permitted under the national restrictions. 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 testing facility 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 the guidance on the ‘How to travel to the place where you’re quarantining’ section of this page.

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.

Taking your day 2 and day 8 travel tests

You must take your 2 COVID-19 travel tests (booked before you arrive in England):

  • on or before day 2 for variant surveillance
  • on or after day 8 to check that you do not have COVID-19

The day you arrive in England is day 0. The day after you arrive is day 1, and so on.

If you do not take the day 2 and day 8 tests, you may face a penalty of up to £2,000. You do not need to take your second test if you receive a positive result to your first test.

Day 2 test

The day 2 test is designed to help identify any potentially harmful variants of COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity. You can take this test in your own accommodation, or at a test site. If you’re travelling to a test site, you should follow safer travel guidance and avoid public transport if possible.

If you get a positive result from your day 2 test:

  • you must quarantine for 10 full days beginning the day after the test was taken
  • you do not need to take a test on day 8

Day 8 test

You need to take a COVID-19 test on or after day 8, unless you got a positive result from your day 2 test.

If you get a positive test result from your day 8 test you will need to continue quarantining for 10 full days. The day of the test counts as day 0.

What happens if you test positive

If you test positive for either the day 2 or day 8 test, you must quarantine for a further 10 days from the day after you took the test. You will be given advice when you get your test results.

Your household will need to quarantine with you immediately and continue for 10 days, with the day of the test counting as day 0.

If you have a variant of concern

If your day 2 test shows that you have a variant of COVID-19 known as a ‘variant of concern’, you will get a further call and your contacts will be asked to be tested.

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.

You can also end your quarantine early through the Test to Release scheme – you’ll find details earlier on this page in the ‘Ending quarantine early using Test to Release’ section.

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. See ‘Being contacted by NHS Test and Trace’, below, for more details.

In addition, you may be visited by someone carrying out checks on behalf of the government to make sure you’re complying with your legal duty to quarantine. For more information, read Self-isolation compliance checks after international travel.

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

Being contacted by NHS Test and Trace

While you quarantine, NHS Test and Trace will contact you daily, using text messages, email or phone.

All information you provide to NHS Test and Trace is held in strict confidence and will only be kept and used in line with the Data Protection Act 2018.

Contact tracers will:

  • call you from 0300 123 2008

  • send you text messages from ‘NHS’

  • ask for your full name and date of birth to confirm your identity

Contact tracers will never:

  • ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to us (for example, those starting 09 or 087)

  • ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product of any kind

  • ask for any details about your bank account

  • ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts

  • ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone

  • disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts

  • provide medical advice on the treatment of any potential COVID-19 symptoms

  • ask you to download any software to your computer or ask you to hand over control of your computer, smartphone or tablet to anyone else

  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

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 May 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated to reflect new rules for amber and green list countries.

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

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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.

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

  7. Clarified information on quarantine time periods.

  8. 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.

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

  10. Added section on testing in quarantine.

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

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

  13. 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 and check for travel disruption

  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 coronavirus (COVID-19) test result or 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 are abroad

  7. Step 7 Return to the UK

  8. and When you arrive in the UK