Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel advice

You should carefully consider your holiday and travel options, in light of the continuing COVID-19 threat. A 'staycation' is one way of mitigating the risks - while also supporting the local economy. If you're holidaying abroad, you may have to self-isolate for a period of 10 days on your return home – depending on which country you have visited.

The information on this page is specific to international travel. Guidance on travel within the Common Travel Area is available on the following page: Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel within Common Travel Area

Stay safe

If you plan to travel in the weeks and months ahead, keep up-to-date with the latest advice for the country you plan travelling to.

Remember to always follow the public health advice whether you're abroad, having a staycation or staying at home. Wash your hands frequently and well, and keep practising social distancing. That’s the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Rules for entering or returning to the UK

 New rules for entering or returning to the UK are now in place:

The regulations mean that you must self-isolate for 10 days if you return to Northern Ireland from a country outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) unless you are travelling from, or transiting through, a low to medium risk country that is exempt. You must also provide your journey details before you travel by completing a UK passenger locator form (PLF).

If you arrive in Northern Ireland having travelled through the Republic of Ireland after having been outside of the CTA you must make sure you complete a UK Passenger Locator Form. This is in addition to travel information you may be required to provide to travel authorities in the Republic of Ireland.

Pre-departure testing

From 4.00 am on 21 January 2021, most people travelling to Northern Ireland from abroad will need proof of a negative coronavirus test.

The test should take place in the departure country.

Minimum testing and certification standards, and acceptable format of results, is set out in the legislation which was published on 18 January 2021.

It is the responsibility of travellers to find a test provider and to ensure that tests meet the standards for pre-departure testing. The legislation will also include a number of limited exemptions from testing.

Pre-departure testing does not remove the need for international arrivals travelling from non-exempt countries to isolate for 10 days.

Test to release

Northern Ireland will not be introducing a test and release scheme for international travellers similar to that being introduced in England.

If you are coming to Northern Ireland and have been in a country which is not exempt from travel restrictions and is not part of the Common Travel Area (CTA) in the previous 10 days, then you must complete the full 10 day self-isolation period.

Information is available if you are arriving from within the Common Travel Area on the following page:

Country-specific exemptions

Since 10 July 2020, you may not have to self-isolate when you arrive in Northern Ireland, if you're returning from certain countries.

This only applies to those who have arrived into Northern Ireland before 4.00 am on Monday 18 January. From this time all country exemptions are suspended until further notice.

That is because these countries or territories are:

  • exempted countries
  • British overseas territories

This list is continually under review and self-isolation requirements could be reintroduced at any time for public health reasons.

A list of exempted countries and territories that were exempt before the suspension is on the following page:

Sector-specific exemptions

In addition to country exemptions, individual exemptions will also apply.

It's important that you check this list before you travel. Some sectoral exemptions have also been suspended from 4.00 am on 18 January.

Fines or further action

You may be fined £60 if you refuse to provide passenger information on arrival, £1,000 if you leave the location where you are self-isolating without reasonable excuse, or you could face further action.

Fines for failure to provide a negative test result on arrival in Northern Ireland start at £500.

What you need to do

Before you travel, you should develop a self-isolation plan so that you know where and how you will self-isolate for 10 days after you have arrived into the CTA.

This should be in place even if you are travelling to an exempted country, as the exemptions could change while you are abroad.

Passenger Locator Form

You will have to complete a passenger locator form that provides:

  • details of your journey
  • contact details 


  • the address where you will self-isolate

You will be able to complete the passenger locator form 48 hours before you arrive into Northern Ireland.

You must present these details on your arrival. You can complete the form at the following link:

Where to self-isolate

You should self-isolate in one place for the full 10 days, where you can have food and other necessities delivered, and stay away from others.

You must self-isolate at the address you provided on the passenger locator form.

This can include:

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

You are not allowed to change the place where you are self-isolating except in very limited circumstances, such as:

  • a legal obligation requires you to change address, such as where you are a child whose parents live separately, and you need to move between homes as part of a shared custody agreement
  • it's necessary for you to stay overnight at accommodation before travelling to the place where you will be self-isolating for the remainder of the 10 days


  • there’s an emergency

If this happens, you should provide full details of each address where you will self-isolate on the passenger locator form.

If, in an exceptional circumstance, you cannot remain where you're staying, you must update the PLF as soon as possible.

If you cannot safely self-isolate, you should tell Border Force Officers when you arrive.

Self-isolation advice for returning travellers

If you’ve been abroad and you're required to self-isolate on your return, you should:

  • head straight home or to your accommodation
  • self-isolate in one place for the full 10 days
  • not go to work, school, or public areas
  • only use public transport if you've no other option
  • if you do use public transport, wear a face covering that covers your nose and mouth and stay two metres apart from other people

You cannot go out to work, school or visit public areas.

You should not go shopping.

If you require help buying groceries, other shopping, or picking up medication, you should ask friends or relatives or order a delivery. 

If you're travelling to Northern Ireland for less than 10 days you will be expected to self-isolate for the length of your stay.

The people you're staying with do not need to self-isolate with you if they have not travelled from outside the UK or have been in the CTA for longer than 10 days before coming to Northern Ireland - unless you or a member of your household develop symptoms of coronavirus.

Anyone who develops symptoms of a cough, fever or loss of taste or smell must self-isolate.

Self-isolation and testing

You must complete the 10 day self-isolation period when returning from a non-exempt country. Even if you test negative for coronavirus during self-isolation you must still continue to self-isolate until the full 10 day period is over.

After self-isolating for 10 days

If you do not have any coronavirus symptoms after 10 days, you can stop self-isolating.

Travelling to another country

If you have any enquiries about COVID-19 and travel to a country, check the latest travel advice - you can also sign up for email alerts from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

There is also guidance if you're travelling or living abroad during the coronavirus pandemic.

Travel advice remains under constant review to make sure it reflects the latest assessment of risks.

If you are abroad

You must follow the advice of local authorities. Your safety and security is the responsibility of the local authority where you are.

If you need urgent consular assistance:

  • phone the FCO switchboard number 020 7008 1500


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