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Your guide to travelling to the UK during coronavirus

Olivier Guiberteau
Last Updated: 5 August 2021 • 3 min read

Now isn’t an easy time to be travelling anywhere. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused havoc in almost every part of lives, and travel is no different. But if you are looking for a UK travel guide during these uncertain times, here are some things that you need to know. 

It’s important to say early on that this a fluid situation. What is included in this article is accurate as of 27th November 2020. If you are travelling to the UK you must check the current situation before you arrive and don’t assume that nothing has changed.   

Before you travel

There are several things that you need to do before travelling. Here’s a quick five-point checklist: 

  • Check the FCO travel advice
  • Check the specific travel advice for the area that you are visiting. Currently, Britain has slightly different restrictions throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. But even within the countries themselves, restrictions may be different. Parts of the north of England have just seen a tightening of rules, while others have not. 
  • Speak to your travel insurer. This shouldn’t be ignored, especially during these times. Stories of travel insurers invalidating insurance because travel restrictions are becoming more common. Check with yours to make sure you are still covered. 
  • Complete the passenger locator form. We will go into more detail of this in the next section. 
  • How do you feel? It goes without saying, but if you have COVID-19 symptoms you should not be travelling, at least not without having a test first.       

Passenger locator form

This passenger locator form must be filled in within the 48-hour window before you are due to travel and must be presented to border agencies when you arrive in the country, either on a device or on a piece of paper. This information will be used in case somebody you travelled with develops COVID-19. 

To fill in the form, you will need:

  • Your passport details.
  • The name of the airline, train or ferry company you’re travelling with.
  • The name of the company organising your tour group - if you’re travelling as part of a tour group.
  • Your booking reference.
  • The name of the airport, port or station you’ll be arriving into.
  • The date you’ll be arriving.
  • Your flight, train, bus or ferry number.
  • The address you’ll be staying at for your first 14 days in the UK.
  • Details of someone who can be contacted if you get ill while you’re in the UK.

If you are travelling with multiple people, everybody needs to fill in their own form, except for under-18s as long as they are leaving with you, staying in the same location and have been included on your form. 

The only travellers to the UK who are not required to fill in the form are those coming from the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands or Ireland. All other destinations require the form. Any visitor to the UK, no matter where they are coming from, must fill in their journey and contact details upon arrival. Failure to give your contact details may lead to a fine of up to £100, while failure to quarantine when required can carry a £1000 fine.

When you arrive

The procedure for what you must do after you arrive varies depending on where you are coming from. A comprehensive and continuously updated list of which countries are currently exempt from quarantine procedures can be found here.  

If you are arriving from a country that is not on the exception list, you must self isolate for 14 days. Those coming from a country on the list currently do not need to isolate. However the situation is constantly changing, so it’s worth checking the status of your departure location shortly before travelling.   

Importantly, if you have made a stopover in a country not on the quarantine exemption list, you must quarantine for 14 days. This includes simply getting off a plane, bus or boat and boarding another.  

While you are in the UK

England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all have different rules when it comes to coronavirus. 

You can find out the specific rules dependent on where you’re travelling to here:

 

You are required to wear a facemask in all four countries of the UK. 

You must also adhere to social distancing, trying to stay away from others by at least one metre.

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Olivier Guiberteau
Written By
Olivier Guiberteau

Oli lives in London and is a writer and photographer.

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