Coronavirus (COVID-19): travelling from a red list country
The UK has tighter travel restrictions in place to reduce the introduction and transmission of new variants of COVID-19 from red list countries. This list is regularly reviewed, so make sure you check it regularly if you've recently travelled or are planning to travel outside of the UK.
Travelling from countries on the red list
The information on this page is for international travel from red list countries only.
To find out what measures are in place for travel from green list and amber countries or within the Common Travel Area, see:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): travelling from an amber country
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): travelling from a green list country
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): travelling within the Common Travel Area
Red list countries (subject to additional measures)
Only British, Irish nationals or those with residency rights in the UK are permitted to travel to Northern Ireland from a red list country.
The countries on the red list include:
- Cape Verde
- Costa Rica
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Dominican Republic
- French Guiana
- La Reunion
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad and Tobago
Requirements for travelling to NI from a red list country
If you plan to travel to Northern Ireland having been in, or transited through one of the countries above in the previous 10 days, you must:
- provide proof of a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test
- complete a UK passenger locator form either on arrival, or in the 48 hours before arrival
- book and enter managed isolation (hotel quarantine) for 10 days
All those aged 11 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 able to board your transport to Northern Ireland.
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.
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.
If you have recently had COVID
If you have recently recovered from COVID but are no longer infectious, you should use a lateral flow device (LFD) test. LFD tests have a lower sensitivity than PCR or LAMP tests, so they are less likely to return a positive result from a historic infection.
The LFD test must meet the minimum performance standards as set out above.
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:
- 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
Passenger locator form
You must complete a UK passenger locator form, even if travelling to NI via the Republic of Ireland, that includes:
- details of your journey
- contact details
- the address where you will isolate
- booking references for managed isolation
You must provide accurate information and submit the passenger locator form either on arrival, or in the 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).
Providing false or deliberately misleading information when filling out your passenger locator form is 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.
If you're travelling to NI via the Republic of Ireland and are experiencing difficulties completing the UK form due to port of entry issues, you should select ‘Belfast’ as your port of arrival into the UK.
Managed isolation (hotel quarantine)
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.
Since Friday 16 April, everyone who arrives into Northern Ireland from a red list country must book and enter managed isolation (hotel quarantine) for 10 full days from the point of their arrival, unless they are exempt.
The day of arrival in Northern Ireland will be treated as day zero.
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
The current rates for booking are:
- rate for one adult in one room for 10 days (11 nights) - £2,285
- additional rate for one adult (or child over 12) - £1,430
- additional rate for child aged five to 12 - £325
There is no charge for children under five years of age.
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.
You will be required to pay back your debt.
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 and have a pre-existing booking to a different airport, it’s your responsibility to change it to one of the airports specified above.
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.
If you travel back to Northern Ireland via the land border, and were not required to enter managed hotel isolation in ROI, you are still required to enter managed hotel isolation in Northern Ireland and must make your way to the managed isolation hotel within two hours of your arrival into Northern Ireland.
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.
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
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
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 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)
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
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 isolation (hotel 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, if the new test is positive.
Exemptions for work, medical or compassionate reasons
You may be exempt from some or all of the travel and entry rules:
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 to NI via Great Britain
If you are travelling back to Northern Ireland from a red list country, via Great Britain, even if this is just to change flights in an airport, you will be required to enter managed isolation there, before travelling on to Northern Ireland.
Further information by country is at:
- England: Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19) and how to quarantine when you arrive in England
- Scotland: Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and managed isolation (quarantine)
- Wales: How to isolate when you travel to Wales
Travelling to NI via the Republic of Ireland
If you travel to Northern Ireland from a red list country, via the Republic of Ireland, you may be required to enter managed isolation there, before travelling to NI.
If you are not required to enter managed hotel isolation in ROI, due to a difference in red list countries or because you are fully vaccinated, you are still required to enter managed hotel isolation in Northern Ireland and must make your way to the managed isolation hotel within two hours of your arrival into Northern Ireland.
In addition to complying with the requirements in the Republic of Ireland, you must also complete a UK passenger locator form.
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.