Guidance

How to quarantine at home after international travel

What to do when you need to quarantine at home or in the place you're staying after you arrive in England from abroad.

Applies to England

What you must do when you enter England from abroad depends on whether you’re fully vaccinated under an approved vaccination programme. Some people qualify for fully vaccinated rules for different reasons.

Check if you qualify as fully vaccinated under the UK vaccination programme, or the UK vaccine programme overseas

Check the full list of countries and territories with approved vaccination programmes

Find out what tests you need to take and what else you must do when you enter England from abroad

New rules for fully vaccinated arrivals

If you are fully vaccinated and arrive in England from a country that is not on the red list, you:

  • must quarantine at home or in the place you’re staying
  • take a PCR test before the end of day 2 after you arrive (lateral flow tests will not be accepted)
  • can end quarantine if your PCR test result is negative

Read the guidance on this page to find out how long you must quarantine for, and what you can and cannot do in quarantine.

Read the guidance on entering England from abroad for people who qualify for fully vaccinated rules.

If you’ve been in a red list country

There are different rules if you’ve been in a red list country in the 10 days before you arrive in England.

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

Who this guidance is for

This guidance is for people who:

  • have not been in a country on the red list in the 10 days before arriving in England
  • must quarantine at home or in the place they’re staying after international travel

How long you must quarantine for

If you’re fully vaccinated

If you’re fully vaccinated you must take a COVID-19 PCR test on or before day 2 after you arrive in England. If the test result is negative, you can end your quarantine immediately.

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

If your test result is unclear, you must self-isolate for 10 full days. The day you took the test is day 0. You can choose to take another private PCR test. If the result is negative, you can stop self-isolating.

If your test result is delayed, you must quarantine until you receive a negative test result or until day 14 after arrival, whichever is sooner.

If you’re in England for less than 2 days, you must quarantine until you receive a negative day 2 COVID-19 PCR test result, or until you leave England, whichever is sooner.

If you are not fully vaccinated

You must quarantine for 10 full days.

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, you will need to quarantine for the whole of your stay. You must still book and pay for 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 England on those dates.

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

You do not have to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel – these are only for people arriving from countries on the red list.

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 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 can 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.

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

You may leave the place where you’re quarantining after 10 full days (where day 0 is the day you took the test or had symptoms). You must:

  • have received a negative result to both your day 2 and day 8 tests
  • not have any COVID-19 symptoms

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 30 November 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added further details on the new rules for fully vaccinated arrivals, including how long to quarantine for depending on the results of your day 2 PCR test.

  2. Added information on the changes to the rules for fully vaccinated arrivals. From 4am 30 November 2021, fully vaccinated people must self-isolate and take a PCR test before the end of day 2 after they arrive in England.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Updated to reflect new rules for international travel to England. The red, amber, green traffic light system has been replaced by a single red list of countries and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world.

  6. Added information on mixed 2 dose vaccines, which are now permitted if you're vaccinated under the UK, Europe, USA or UK overseas vaccination programmes.

  7. 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).

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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.

  11. Added information about natural immunity.

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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.

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

  16. 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.

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

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

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

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

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

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

  24. 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.

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

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

  27. 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.

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

  29. 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.

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

  31. Clarified information on quarantine time periods.

  32. 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.

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

  34. Added section on testing in quarantine.

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

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

  37. 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