Coronavirus (COVID-19): travelling from an amber country

If you're travelling to Northern Ireland from an amber country (country not on the red or green lists or within the Common Travel Area), keep up-to-date with legal requirements, such as self-isolation and testing, to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19).

Travelling from an amber country

The information on this page is for international travel from amber countries only.

To find out what measures are in place for travel from red and green list countries, or within the Common Travel Area, see:

Requirements for travelling to NI from an amber country

If you’re travelling to Northern Ireland from an amber country, either directly or via another country, including British and Irish nationals returning home, you must:

  • provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to three days before departure
  • book post-arrival testing
  • complete a UK passenger locator form 48 hours before departure
  • self-isolate for 10 days

Pre-departure testing

All those aged 11 years and over must take a COVID-19 test, in the three days before you start your journey to Northern Ireland, even if you're normally a resident in Northern Ireland.

For example, if you travel on Friday, you must take a test on the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

You will need to present valid proof of your negative test before you board to travel to Northern Ireland. If you don’t, you may not be permitted to board.

If you arrive in Northern Ireland without proof of a negative test result, you could be fined £500, as this is a criminal offence. You can also be fined if the test doesn’t meet the required standards or contain all of the necessary information (see below).

You can choose to take a test:

  • in the place where you start your journey
  • in another country on your way to Northern Ireland

If you plan to take a test on your way to Northern Ireland, you must make sure that this is possible before you set out.

Some countries have entry restrictions in place, which mean you may not be able to get tested there.

Connecting flights

If you have one or more connecting flights to the UK, you should take a test as close as possible to the date of the first flight - if the connecting flights were booked as a single passenger record.

Test providers and type of test

You will need to find a test provider.

You must make sure that the test provider can meet the standards for pre-departure testing.

The test must:

  • meet performance standards of greater than or equal to 97 per cent specificity, greater than or equal to 80 per cent sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml
  • this could include tests such as:
    • a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests
    • an antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device

It is your responsibility to make sure the test meets the minimum standards for sensitivity, specificity and viral load details, so you must check with your test provider that it meets those standards.

You may not be able to travel if the test does not meet these standards.

Where information about providers of tests is available locally, FCDO travel advice pages will be updated with this information.

If you need consular assistance you should contact the nearest consulate, embassy or high commission.

If you take your test in the UK, ahead of a return journey of less than three days, you must use a private test provider. You cannot use an NHS or HSC Test and Trace test.

Information that the test result must include

Your test result must be in either English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted, and you must provide the original test result certificate.

It must include the following information:

  • your name, which should match the name on your travel documents
  • your date of birth or age
  • the result of the test
  • the date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
  • the name of the test provider and their contact details
  • confirmation of the device used for the test, or that the test was a PCR test

If the test result does not include this information you may not be able to board, and may not be able to travel to Northern Ireland.

Your test result can be provided as a physical, printed document, or by email or text message, which you can show on your phone. Make sure that your device is charged.

Positive test results

If your test result is positive, you must not travel. You must follow local rules and guidance for positive coronavirus cases.

If the result is inconclusive, you must take another test.

Exemptions – people who don’t need to take a test

You do not need to take a test if you are travelling to the UK:

  • from Myanmar
  • for urgent medical treatment or are accompanying someone who is travelling for urgent medical treatment, and it is not reasonably practicable for you to obtain a negative COVID-19 test in the three days before departure
  • if you have a medical condition which means you cannot take a test – you must present a note from a medical practitioner at check in and to Border Force staff on arrival in Northern Ireland

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 offers this service to NI.

Children under five do not need to take these tests.

If you book private tests from a provider that's not on the approved list, you may receive a fixed penalty notice for failing to comply with the testing requirements.

If you're travelling directly or via GB 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 the Republic of Ireland, you should select ‘a Belfast port’.

If you’re having any issues booking online through:

  • CTM: phone +44 (0)207 429 9983
  • private test providers: contact them directly

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

If you receive income-related benefits and you’re facing significant financial hardship as a result of the cost of this travel test package, you can pay later in instalments by applying for a deferred repayment plan when booking.

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.

Passenger locator form

You must fill in and submit a UK passenger locator form, 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) that includes:

  • details of your journey
  • contact details 
  • the address where you will isolate
  • booking references for managed isolation and testing

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 or Wales, 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'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. The ‘Test to Release Scheme’ which applies in England does not apply in NI.

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.

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

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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