Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel advice

You should avoid travelling as much as possible in light of the continuing Coronavirus (COVID-19) threat. If you need to travel abroad, keep up-to-date with the latest advice for the country you plan travelling to. You will have to either go into managed isolation (hotel quarantine) or self-isolate on your return.

International travel

You must not travel outside the Common Travel Area (UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, and Channel Islands), unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so.

If you have a permitted reason to travel you should keep up-to-date with the latest advice for the country you plan travelling to and the requirements for your return home.

The information on this page is specific to international travel. Guidance on travel within the Common Travel Area is available at:

Rules for entering or returning to Northern Ireland

The following rules for entering or returning to Northern Ireland (NI) are in place:

Anyone intending to travel directly, or via another country, to Northern Ireland from outside the Common Travel Area, including British and Irish nationals returning home, must:

  • provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to three days before departure
  • provide your journey and contact details by completing the UK online Passenger Locator Form
  •  self-isolate for 10 days 

From Friday 16 April, you must:

  • enter managed isolation (hotel quarantine) for 10 days if travelling from a 'red list' country, or self-isolate for 10 days if travelling from a non 'red list' country - the day you arrive will be treated as day zero
  • book a day two and eight test kit if travelling from non 'red list' countries

Anyone not complying with the regulations may be refused boarding by the airline or carrier and/ or fined on arrival.

Travelling directly to NI from a ‘red list’ country

If you have travelled to Northern Ireland directly from a country associated with COVID-19 variants, that may be considered a higher risk, known as a ‘red list’ country, you must enter managed isolation (hotel quarantine) in NI from Friday 16 April.

This is to reduce the risk of COVID-19 variants spreading within Northern Ireland.

Further information on 'red list' countries is available at: 

Managed isolation (hotel quarantine)

Everyone who arrives into Northern Ireland from outside the Common Travel Area must quarantine for 10 full days from the point of their arrival.

The day of arrival in Northern Ireland will be treated as day zero.

To stop the spread of potentially harmful variants into NI, more stringent measures are in place for people who have travelled from or passed through a country on the list where travel to the UK is banned (the ‘red list’) in the last 10 days before arrival.

From Friday 16 April, you must quarantine in a managed isolation hotel if you’ve travelled from or passed through a ‘red list’ country.

You will need to book and pay for a managed isolation package before you complete your passenger locator form and make your journey to NI.

The package includes the costs of transport from the port of arrival to the designated hotel, food, accommodation, security, other essential services and post-arrival testing.

How much you’ll need to pay

  • rate for one adult in one room for 10 days (11 nights) - £1,750 (additional day rate £152)
  • additional rate for one adult (or child over 12) - £650 (additional day rate £41)
  • additional rate for child aged five to 12 - £325 (additional day rate £12)

There will be an additional fee if your quarantine is extended. The additional day rate above applies if you have already stayed in quarantine for 10 days.

If you're facing significant financial hardship as a result of this charge, there will be an opportunity to apply for a deferred repayment plan when booking.

This is only available if you already receive income-related benefits, and you will be required to pay back your debt.

Unaccompanied children

Children arriving in Northern Ireland from a ‘red list’ country should not be travelling alone.

Arrangements should be made by the parent or guardian to travel with their child and to enter managed isolation on arrival.

If it is not possible to travel with the child, the parent, guardian or appropriate adult is expected to join their child in managed isolation on arrival.

Unaccompanied children travelling to attend boarding school may be able to quarantine at their boarding school. Guidance on this is available at this link:

Where you can arrive

If you travel directly to Northern Ireland from a ‘red list’ country, you can only arrive into certain airports. Currently these are:

  • Belfast International Airport
  • Belfast City Airport
  • any military airfield or port

The main airport space, and not the general aviation locations within the Belfast airports, have been designated for 'red list' country arrivals.

All arrivals must go to the designated immigration control area within the main terminals at each of these airports.

If you're travelling directly to Northern Ireland after Friday 16 April and have a pre-existing booking to a different airport, it’s your responsibility to change it to one of the airports specified above.

After this date airlines will not be permitted to carry anyone who has been in a ‘red list’ country in the previous 10 days to any other airport than those specified.

Arriving and transport to a managed isolation hotel

When you arrive in Northern Ireland you will need to provide your completed passenger locator form to Border Force officers, along with your passport and negative COVID-19 test result.

You will be escorted through the airport with other passengers who need to quarantine at a managed isolation hotel.

Your managed isolation package includes transport to your quarantine hotel (and back to the airport at the end of your quarantine to reconnect to your travel plans).

If you have a car parked at the airport, you will need to extend your parking period and pay the additional charges. If you need help with this, you can ask for that once you get to your hotel.

You will need to wear a face covering at all times (unless you’re exempt).

A member of staff will make a note of where everyone is sitting on the bus, so that if someone later tests positive for coronavirus PHA’s Contact Tracing service will be able to identify who has been in close contact.

You must only travel to your managed isolation hotel by the transport specified in your quarantine package and not by public or private transport.

At the end of the quarantine period you will be transported to the airport you were collected from when you arrived in Northern Ireland.

Arriving at the managed isolation hotel

When you arrive at the managed isolation hotel you will be required to quarantine in your room for 10 full days.

The managed isolation hotel will provide your meals.

It's not possible to select a particular room at the hotel or to seek a higher standard room when you arrive.

You can quarantine with the people you travelled with and hotels will prioritise allocating larger or connecting rooms to families.

If you’re the parent or guardian of an unaccompanied child arriving in Northern Ireland, you should join your child in managed isolation.

Visitors

You cannot have visitors in managed isolation, including friends or family, unless they’re providing:

  • emergency assistance
  • care or assistance (including personal care)
  • medical assistance
  • veterinary services
  • certain critical public services

Deliveries

If you have items delivered to you during the quarantine period (such as food deliveries), they will be brought to the door of your room by the managed isolation hotel staff.

Staff will try to bring the items to you as soon as possible. However, given the need to maintain compliance with COVID guidelines, deliveries may not be able to be brought to your door immediately when they arrive at the hotel.

Services available in your hotel

The hotel will provide you with information about the services available, including food, laundry and free wifi.

The hotels selected for managed isolation are able to meet the vast majority of requirements and will be able to accommodate dietary requirements.

Medical care and prescriptions

You should bring your prescription medicines with you.

You will be able to contact your normal GP to seek medical attention, including for repeat prescriptions and/ or if you need to order a prescription.

Leaving your room

You will only be allowed to leave your room in very limited circumstances, including:

  • to travel directly to leave the Common Travel Area – you will be given instructions when leaving
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions or to participate in legal proceedings
  • to exercise, but only with special permission from security - this is not guaranteed

You will also be allowed to leave your room in exceptional circumstances, such as:

  • seeking medical assistance where this is required urgently or on the advice of a registered medical practitioner
  • to avoid injury, illness or escape a risk of harm (for example situations such as fire or flooding, or cases where domestic abuse occurs within a group quarantining together)
  • to access critical public services including social services or services provided to victims (for example critical access such as for a child to see their social worker)
  • to access veterinary services where required urgently or on the advice of a veterinary surgeon (only service animals, such as guide dogs, can accompany you to managed isolation)

Visiting dying family members and funerals

You may request permission to leave managed isolation for a limited period if a close family member or member of your household is dying.

You may also request permission to leave quarantine to attend a family funeral.

This is limited to the day of the funeral, or in exceptional circumstances where it is not possible to travel to the funeral and back within one day, it may be possible (with restrictions) to stay overnight elsewhere if you cannot stay in a nearby managed quarantine facility

You will need permission from security staff to make sure that arrangements minimise the public health risks. This will include agreeing a specific time with the hotel for returning to your room.

You should not use public transport.

If you are permitted to leave to visit a close family member or member of your household who is dying, you should:

  • wear a face covering - in some specific circumstances this may need to be a surgical-grade Type IIR face mask
  • wash your hands regularly
  • maintain distance and follow social contact rules

It is recommended that visits are limited to a single visit on one day.

You should not leave if you have tested positive for COVID-19 during your quarantine period.

If you are permitted to leave to attend the funeral of a close family member or member of your household, you should follow the guidance for attending a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes:

  • advising the funeral venue manager and other mourners in advance that you are in your quarantine period
  • taking extra care to maintain distance and follow social contact rules
  • wearing a surgical-grade Type IIR face mask to minimise any risk of viral transmission from yourself to others

If visiting a healthcare or residential setting, the healthcare or residential setting would need to be notified in advance and they should confirm they are content to the security staff in the hotel at the time of being given permission

Testing in managed isolation

Day Two test

You will need to take a COVID-19 test on or before day two of your managed isolation. The day you arrive will be treated as day zero.

Tests will be taken in your room in your quarantine hotel.

If you receive a positive result from your day two test, you must continue your quarantine period restarting the 10 days beginning the day after the test was taken.

If you’re in quarantine with people you’ve travelled with, they will also need to quarantine for 10 further days beginning the day after the test.

If you receive a positive result from your day two test, you will not be required to take any further tests because you have been confirmed with infection and will isolate through the period when you may be infectious to others.

Day Eight test

You will need to take a COVID-19 test on or after day eight, unless you received a positive result from your day two test.

If you receive a positive test result from your day eight test, you will be required to continue your quarantine period restarting the 10-day count beginning the day after the test.

If you have quarantined for 10 days and received a negative result to both your day two and day eight tests and are well, you may leave the managed isolation hotel.

Children aged under five

Children aged under five will not need to take the day two or day eight test but they and their family or carers should only leave managed isolation if they are well.

If you get symptoms

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

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

Groups

If you’re in quarantine with people you have travelled with, they will need to quarantine when you receive a positive test for 10 full days.

In a group quarantining together this could mean:

Person A

Person A receives a positive test result on day two so must quarantine for 10 days starting from the day after they took their day two test (they do not need to take their day eight test)

Person B

As they are a close contact of Person A, Person B needs to quarantine for 10 days starting counting from the day after person A received their day two test result.

If Person B is negative on day two, they are still required to take a day eight test.

Person B then receives a positive test result on day eight so they will need to quarantine for 10 days starting from the day after they took their day eight test

Person C

As they are a close contact of Person A, Person C needs to quarantine for 10 days starting from the day after person A took their day two test.

If Person B is negative on their day two test, they are still required to take a day eight test.

Person C receives a negative day eight test result, however, as they are also a close contact of Person B, Person C will still need to quarantine for 10 days starting from the day after Person B took their day eight test.

Person C still needs to quarantine to Day 19 as they are a contact of Person B as well as of Person A.

If someone tests positive, other people in the same room should be moved into another room if there’s space available in the hotel. This is as a precaution to help reduce the risk that the other people in the room would develop COVID-19.

If you do not take the tests you may face a penalty of up to £2,000.

Leaving managed quarantine

You will be able to leave managed isolation when you have received a negative result from your day eight test and have quarantined for 10 full days from the point of arrival (the day of arrival counts as day zero).

If you get a positive result from either of your tests, you will not be able to leave managed isolation until 10 days have passed from the day after the date of the test.

If, despite a negative test on day eight, you develop new coronavirus symptoms on day nine or day 10, this would trigger a further test and extended quarantine for 10 days (see additional day rate above), if the new test is positive.

People who do not need to quarantine

A very small proportion of people arriving in Northern Ireland who have visited or passed through a ‘red list’ country will not need to quarantine in a managed isolation hotel.

See the full list of exemptions.

Penalties

If you do not comply with the managed isolation rules, you may face a penalty of up to £10,000.

If you do not arrive into Northern Ireland at one of the designated airports, you may face a penalty of up to £10,000 and will be charged for the cost of transportation to the nearest designated airport.

Travelling directly to NI from a non 'red list' country

If you travel to Northern Ireland, either directly or indirectly, from or through a non ‘red list’ country within the 10 days before arrival, you must self-isolate at home or at the place you are staying.

You must book a post-arrival travel test package and take a COVID-19 test on or before day two for variant surveillance and a test on or after day eight to check that you do not have COVID-19.

If you’re having any difficulty booking online, phone +44 (0)1274 726424.

If you’re facing significant financial hardship as a result of the cost of this travel test package, there will be an opportunity to pay later in instalments by applying for a deferred repayment plan when booking.

This is only available if you already receive income-related benefits, and you will be required to pay back your debt.

You will not be able to leave self-isolation until you have received both a negative result from your day eight test and quarantined for 10 days.

If you do not book and take the day two and day eight tests, you may face a penalty of up to £2,000.

Travelling indirectly to NI via Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland

If you're travelling back to Northern Ireland from a country outside the Common Travel Area via Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland, even if this is just to change flights in an airport, you must follow any requirements that have been introduced for that country, including managed isolation and day two and eight testing. 

Make sure you are aware of these requirements, as these may differ to those in NI.

Since 15 February 2021 all international arrivals into England from non ‘red list’ countries are required to book a COVID PCR test kit in advance of their journey. 

Travellers returning to NI via England must comply with these testing requirements. These tests are payable by the passenger and booking confirmation must be provided on the Passenger Locator Form and upon arrival in England.

Pre-departure testing

You will need proof of a negative coronavirus test before your departure.

Further information on pre-departure testing is available at:

Passenger Locator Form

You must complete a passenger locator form (PLF) that includes:

  • details of your journey
  • contact details 
  • the address where you will self-isolate

You must provide accurate information and submit the passenger locator form within 48 hours prior to your arrival into Northern Ireland (or your first point of entry into the UK/ Republic of Ireland, if not direct into Northern Ireland).

If you intend to arrive in Northern Ireland, via the Republic of Ireland, after having been outside the Common Travel Area, you must 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.

Failure to complete the UK passenger locator form, when travelling via the Republic of Ireland, incurs a fixed penalty notice of £500 with laddering for subsequent offences up to a maximum of £4,000.

Providing false or deliberately misleading information when filling out your passenger locator form is also an offence. You could be fined up to £10,000, imprisoned for up to 10 years or both if you do not provide accurate details about the countries you have visited in the 10 days before you arrived in the UK.

Self-isolation

Self-isolation for 10 days following international travel from non 'red list' countries is a legal requirement and an important measure to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) as it can take up to 10 days for coronavirus symptoms to appear, and you can spread coronavirus (COVID-19) before you develop symptoms.

You must complete 10 days of self-isolation even if you had a negative pre-departure test, or a negative test during the isolation period, as it can take up to 10 days for the infection to develop.

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 into Northern Ireland (or at the first point of entry if arriving into another area of the UK, if not arriving direct into Northern Ireland).

The people in your household will also have to self-isolate with you if you have travelled from, or transited through a country or territory that is subject to additional measures ('red list’ countries) in the previous 10 days .

Self-isolation advice for returning travellers

If you’ve returned from travel and are required to self-isolate, to protect others, 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
  • not go shopping
  • 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)

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

If you are having difficulty getting food or other important items, contact the COVID-19 community helpline:

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.

Self-isolation and testing

You must complete the full 10 day self-isolation period. Even if you test negative for coronavirus during self-isolation you must continue to self-isolate until the full 10 day period is over.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 during this period, however mild, you should book a test.

If your test is negative, you must continue to self-isolate until the full 10 day period is over. If your test is positive, you should add 10 days on to your self-isolation period from the day you first developed symptoms.

After self-isolating for 10 days

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

Permitted reasons for leaving self-isolation

During self-isolation, you must not leave the place where you are self-isolating except in certain circumstances.

Information on permitted reasons for leaving self-isolation is available at:

You should only leave self-isolation following international travel, particularly from a red list country, in an emergency. Ask friends or family to help if you need food or medication.

If you are having difficulty getting food or other important items, contact the COVID-19 community helpline:

Fines or further action

It is an offence if you do not comply with the above requirements.

Failure to complete the UK passenger locator form or provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test, incurs a fine of £500 with laddering for subsequent offences up to a maximum of £4,000.

Leaving the place where you are self-isolating, without a permitted reason incurs a fine of £1,000.

Sector-specific exemptions

A limited number of sector specific exemptions may apply when travelling to Northern Ireland.

If you think you meet the criteria for exemption it's important that you check the list of sector specific exemptions before you travel.

Travelling to another country

If you have any enquiries about COVID-19 and travel abroad, check the latest foreign travel advice.

You can also sign up for email alerts from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

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 must travel abroad for an essential reason you must make sure you’re aware of up-to-date requirements should the regulations change while you’re abroad.

If you are abroad

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

If you need urgent consular assistance, phone:

 

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