Coronavirus (COVID-19): self-isolation and testing after international travel

Self-isolation for 10 days and post-arrival testing following international travel from amber countries (countries not on the red list or within the Common Travel Area) is a legal requirement and an important measure to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19).

Red list countries

The information on this page is for international travel from amber countries. Additional measures are in place for travel from red list countries.

Post-arrival testing

If you travel to Northern Ireland, either directly or indirectly, from an amber country, you must book a post-arrival travel test package and take a COVID-19 test on day two for variant surveillance and a test on day eight to check that you do not have COVID-19.

Test packages can be booked through the NHS at this link:

Or you can choose to book a private test through an approved private test provider that posts the test kit to NI. You can find the list of approved private providers at this link:

If you're booking test packages through private test providers, you must make sure they offer the service to NI.

Private tests from providers not on the approved list do not comply with the regulations. If you choose to book tests with a provider that is not approved, you may receive a fixed penalty notice for failing to comply with the testing requirements.

If you're travelling directly into NI from an amber country you should select the NI port of arrival on the booking form.

If you're travelling to NI via GB, you should select the first port of arrival in GB on the booking form.

If you're travelling to NI via the Republic of Ireland, you should select ‘Belfast’.

A test package is required for all international arrivals who are travelling to NI, either directly or via GB or ROI.

If you’re having any difficulty booking online through CTM, phone +44 (0)12 7472 6424.

For difficulties booking through private test providers, you will have to contact them directly.

Test packages are payable by the passenger and booking confirmation must be provided on the passenger locator form

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.

Self-isolation

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

If you travel to NI from an amber country via England, you can continue your journey to NI to self-isolate.

If you travel via Scotland, all amber arrivals are required to enter managed isolation there.

If you travel to NI from an amber country via the Republic of Ireland (ROI), you can continue your journey to NI to self-isolate. You must refer to the ROI international travel website, as amber countries in NI may differ to those in ROI.

If the country you're travelling from is a red list country in ROI, you must enter managed hotel isolation in ROI for 14 days.

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 complete a new passenger locator form 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).

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 your test is positive, you should add 10 days on to your self-isolation period from the day you first developed symptoms.

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

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 the following circumstances:

  • to leave Northern Ireland, provided you do so directly, and do not have coronavirus symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19
  • to seek medical assistance*, where this is required urgently or on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, services from dentists, opticians, audiologists, chiropodists, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health practitioners, including services relating to mental health
  • to access urgent veterinary services, however you should ask a family member or a friend who are not self-isolating to take the animal in the first instance, before you leave isolation
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or to take part in legal proceedings, however you should tell the relevant personnel that you are self-isolating, they may be able to arrange alternative virtual meetings instead
  • to avoid injury or illness or to escape harm
  • on compassionate grounds including to attend a funeral of household member, family member or a friend in certain circumstances
  • to move to a different place for self-isolation specified on a Passenger Locator Form 
  • to access critical public services, including social services and services provided to victims (such as victims of crime)
  • in the case of a minister of religion or worship leader, to go to their place of worship alone and stay alone there
  • to exercise alone or with household members
  • to visit a burial ground to pay respects to a household member, family member or friend providing they are doing so alone
  • to carry out mandatory post-arrival testing
  • in exceptional circumstances such as:
    • to move to a different place for self-isolation where it becomes impracticable to stay at the address at which they are self-isolating
    • to get basic necessities such as food and medical supplies for those in the same household (including any pets or animals in the household) where it is not possible to get these goods in any other way

You could ask a family member, neighbour or friend to get these for you.

Alternatively you can contact the COVID-19 community helpline:

You should not leave self-isolation if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, even if very mild. If you do leave you should:

  • at all times maintain a strict two  metre social distance
  • wear a face covering
  • use your own transport

Travelling to NI via Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland

Information on international travel requirements across the UK and ROI are available at:

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.

Penalties

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.

Failure to be in possession of a test package on arrival into the UK incurs a fine of £1,000, increasing to £2,000 where passengers fail to obtain a test package on arrival.

Failure to take a day two and eight test incurs a fine of £1,000, increasing to £2,000 for subsequent failures.

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

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