< back
COVID spread across globe

By Vanessa Ganguin

All you need to know about the latest UK COVID-19 travel testing, quarantine and red list measures

Updated 5 December

From 4am, Tuesday 7 December arrivals in the UK aged 12 years and over must take a  PCR or Lateral Flow COVID-19 test within 48 hours before they travel. This will apply whether you qualify as fully vaccinated or not. Arrivals must also take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. This is a precaution while newly discovered COVID-19 variant Omicron (B.1.1.529) is investigated by the UK Health Security Agency.

All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status. They will be contacted by the UK’s  Test and Trace service.

Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesostho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are now on the United Kingdom’s travel red list.

Non-UK and Irish residents who have been in these countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England. This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through any of these countries while changing flights.

Passengers arriving in England from red list countries will be required to book and pay for a government-approved hotel quarantine facility for 10 days.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have announced similar measures – see links below.

COVID-19 rules for arrivals in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland

Currently rules for the four nations of the UK have almost converged, but it is always worth checking:

Below are the rules for arrival in England.

What are the rules for fully vaccinated people travelling to England from non-red list countries?

From 4am, Tuesday 7 December, whether fully vaccinated or not, arrivals must take a PCR or Lateral Flow test within 48 hours before departing for the UK. Some people, including children aged 11 and under are exempt from taking the test. People recognised as fully vaccinated arriving in the UK are exempted from a day eight test, but must take a PCR test booked before departure within two days after their arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. This is a precaution while newly discovered COVID-19 variant Omicron (B.1.1.529) is investigated by the UK Health Security Agency.

All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status. They will be contacted by the UK’s  Test and Trace service.

To be recognised as fully vaccinated 14 days must have elapsed after the final recognised vaccination (though some approved vaccinations such as Janssen require just one dose), not including the day of the vaccination. Arrivals will need proof of their vaccination status and to fill a Passenger Locator Form before departing for the UK. Over 100 countries now have vaccination regimes that will be treated the same as those vaccinated in the UK (see list of recognised vaccinations and countries below).

Children under 18 years old from these countries will be treated the same too whether vaccinated or not.

Anyone testing positive or if a test is inconclusive will need to self-isolate for ten days and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants. PCR tests can be accessed free of charge by ordering through NHS Test and Trace or by dialling 119.

Who else can enjoy the more relaxed rules for fully vaccinated people from non-red list countries?

Children under 18 years old from countries with a recognised vaccine programme (see below) will be treated the same as in the rules above, when not arriving from a red list country, as will those taking part in an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial in the UK or the USA (US residents only for USA trials). They also apply for arrivals from non-red countries who cannot have a COVID-19 vaccination for an approved medical exemption reason and are resident in England.

Which vaccinations are recognised to exempt arrivals from self-isolating?

You must have had a complete course of one of the following vaccines at least 14 days before you arrive in England:

  • Oxford/AstraZeneca
  • Pfizer BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • Janssen
  • Sinovac-CoronaVac
  • Sinopharm Beijing
  • Covaxin

The day you have your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days.

Formulations of these vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, also qualify as approved vaccines. It is possible to have two doses of two different approved vaccinations, and have them under two different approved programmes eg: Moderna in Australia for the first jab, Oxford/AstraZeneca in France for the second.

Which vaccination programmes are recognised and what proof do arrivals need?

Country or territory
Examples of proof of vaccination status and whether you can verify this on the UK passenger locator form
Akrotiri and DhekeliaVaccine certificate.
AlbaniaEU DCC, EU DCC equivalent or vaccine certificate.
AndorraEU DCC. You can use the EU DCC to prove your vaccination status. You cannot currently use your EU DCC to verify your vaccination status via the UKpassenger locator form.
AngolaVaccine certificate.
AnguillaVaccine certificate.
Antarctica/British Antarctic TerritoryVaccine certificate.
Antigua and BarbudaVaccine certificate.
ArgentinaVaccine certificate.
ArmeniaEU DCC, EU DCC equivalent or vaccine certificate.
AustraliaVaccine certificate.
AustriaEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
AzerbaijanVaccine certificate.
The BahamasVaccine certificate.
BahrainVaccine certificate.
BangladeshVaccine certificate.
BarbadosVaccine certificate.
BelarusVaccine certificate.
BelgiumEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
BelizeVaccine certificate.
BermudaVaccine certificate.
BoliviaVaccine certificate.
Bosnia and HerzegovinaVaccine certificate.
BotswanaVaccine certificate.
BrazilVaccine certificate.
British Indian Ocean TerritoryVaccine certificate.
British Virgin IslandsVaccine certificate.
BruneiVaccine certificate.
BulgariaEU DCC. You can use the EU DCC to prove your vaccination status. You cannot currently use your EU DCC to verify your vaccination status via the UKpassenger locator form.
CambodiaVaccine certificate.
CanadaVaccine certificate.
Cayman IslandsVaccine certificate.
ChileVaccine certificate.
ColombiaVaccine certificate.
Costa RicaVaccine certificate.
CroatiaEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
CyprusEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
Czech Republic (Czechia)EU DCC. You can use the EU DCC to prove your vaccination status. You cannot currently use your EU DCC to verify your vaccination status via the UKpassenger locator form.
Democratic Republic of the CongoVaccine certificate.
Denmark (except Faroe Islands)EU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
DjiboutiVaccine certificate.
DominicaVaccine certificate.
Dominican RepublicVaccine certificate.
EcuadorVaccine certificate.
EgyptVaccine certificate.
EstoniaEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
EswatiniVaccine certificate.
Falkland IslandsVaccine certificate.
The Faroe IslandsEU DCC equivalent.
FinlandEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
FranceEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
GeorgiaVaccine certificate.
GermanyEU DCC. You can use the EU DCC to prove your vaccination status. You cannot currently use your EU DCC to verify your vaccination status via the UKpassenger locator form.
GhanaVaccine certificate.
GibraltarVaccine certificate.
GreeceEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
GrenadaVaccine certificate.
GuernseyVaccine certificate.
GuyanaVaccine certificate.
HondurasVaccine certificate.
Hong KongVaccine certificate.
HungaryEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
IcelandEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
IndiaVaccine certificate.
IndonesiaVaccine certificate.
IrelandEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
Isle of ManVaccine certificate.
IsraelEU DCC, EU DCC equivalent or vaccine certificate.
ItalyEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
JamaicaVaccine certificate.
JapanVaccine certificate.
JerseyVaccine certificate (COVID status certificate).
JordanVaccine certificate.
KenyaVaccine certificate.
KosovoVaccine certificate.
KuwaitVaccine certificate.
LaosVaccine certificate.
LatviaEU DCC. You can use the EU DCC to prove your vaccination status. You cannot currently use your EU DCC to verify your vaccination status via the UKpassenger locator form.
LebanonVaccine certificate.
LesothoVaccine certificate.
LibyaVaccine certificate.
LiechtensteinEU DCC. You can use the EU DCC to prove your vaccination status. You cannot currently use your EU DCC to verify your vaccination status via the UKpassenger locator form.
LithuaniaEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
LuxembourgEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
MadagascarVaccine certificate.
MalawiVaccine certificate.
MalaysiaVaccine certificate.
MaldivesVaccine certificate.
MaltaEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
MauritiusVaccine certificate.
MoldovaVaccine certificate.
MonacoEU DCC. You can use the EU DCC to prove your vaccination status. You cannot currently use your EU DCC to verify your vaccination status via the UKpassenger locator form.
MongoliaVaccine certificate.
MontenegroVaccine certificate.
MontserratVaccine certificate.
MoroccoEU DCC, EU DCC equivalent or vaccine certificate. You can use the EU DCC to add proof of vaccination status in the UK passenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
MozambiqueVaccine certificate.
NamibiaVaccine certificate.
NepalVaccine certificate.
NetherlandsEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
New ZealandVaccine certificate.
NigeriaVaccine certificate.
North MacedoniaEU DCC, EU DCC equivalent or vaccine certificate.
NorwayEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
OmanVaccine certificate.
PakistanVaccine certificate.
The Occupied Palestinian TerritoriesVaccine certificate.
PanamaEU DCC, EU DCC equivalent or vaccine certificate.
PeruVaccine certificate.
PhilippinesVaccine certificate.
Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno IslandsVaccine certificate.
PolandEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
PortugalEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
QatarVaccine certificate.
RomaniaEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
RwandaVaccine certificate.
SamoaVaccine certificate.
San MarinoEU DCC. You can use the EU DCC to prove your vaccination status. You cannot currently use your EU DCC to verify your vaccination status via the UKpassenger locator form.
Saudi ArabiaVaccine certificate.
SenegalVaccine certificate.
SerbiaVaccine certificate.
SeychellesVaccine certificate.
Sierra LeoneVaccine certificate.
SingaporeVaccine certificate.
SlovakiaEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
SloveniaEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
South AfricaVaccine certificate.
South Georgia and South Sandwich IslandsVaccine certificate.
South KoreaVaccine certificate.
SpainEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
Sri LankaVaccine certificate.
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaVaccine certificate.
St Kitts and NevisVaccine certificate.
St LuciaVaccine certificate.
St Vincent and the GrenadinesVaccine certificate.
SurinameVaccine certificate.
SwedenEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
SwitzerlandEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
TaiwanVaccine certificate.
TanzaniaVaccine certificate.
ThailandVaccine certificate.
Trinidad and TobagoVaccine certificate.
TunisiaVaccine certificate.
TurkeyEU DCC, EU DCC equivalent or vaccine certificate.
Turks and Caicos IslandsVaccine certificate.
UgandaVaccine certificate.
UkraineEU DCC, EU DCC equivalent or vaccine certificate. You cannot currently use your EU DCC to verify your vaccination status via the UK passenger locator form.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)Vaccine certificate.
UruguayVaccine certificate.
USACDC card showing you’ve had a full course of an FDA-approved vaccine in the USA, or:
– California Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record
– New York State Excelsior Pass Plus
– Washington State WA Verify Pass
Additional proof of US residence is no longer required.
VanuatuVaccine certificate.
Vatican CityEU DCC. You can use this to add proof of vaccination status in the UKpassenger locator form. You must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
VietnamVaccine certificate.
ZambiaVaccine certificate.
ZimbabweVaccine certificate.

This list is constantly being added to, so please check here if your territory is not included, and you can also sign up for an email alert for updates.

What are the rules for those not recognised as being fully vaccinated arriving in the UK from non-red list countries?

Passengers not recognised as being fully vaccinated with authorised vaccines and certificates under England’s international travel rules, will still have to take a pre-departure test, a day 2 and day 8 PCR test and self-isolate for 10 days upon their return from a non-red list country under the new two-tiered travel programme. A Test to Release on day 5 will remain an option for unvaccinated passengers who wish to shorten their isolation period.

From 4am, Tuesday 7 December, whether fully vaccinated or not, arrivals must take a PCR or Lateral Flow test within 48 hours before departing for the UK.

Who is exempt from taking a COVID-19 test before departure?

Arrivals from the following countries – whether vaccinated or not do not need to take a COVID-test before departure:

  • Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey
  • Ethiopia
  • Falkland Islands
  • St Helena or Ascension

Children aged 10 and under do not need to take a pre-departure test to travel to England.

Neither do those travelling to the UK for urgent medical treatment or  accompanying someone who is travelling for urgent medical treatment, when it is not reasonably practical for you to obtain a negative COVID-19 test in the 3 days before departure

People with a medical condition that does not allow them to take a test must present a note from a medical practitioner at check in and to Border Force staff on arrival in England to prove this.

Which countries are on the red list?

Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesostho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are now on the UK’s travel red list.  Keep checking the list as the situation is likely to change with the spread of the new Omicron variant already detected on other continents and more information about its consequences.

What are the rules for those wishing to travel to the UK from red list countries?

England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have broadly similar rules, but check the above links for the latest.

Non-UK and Irish residents who have been to a red list country in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England. This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through any of these countries while changing flights. People must not travel to England if they’ve been in a red list country in the previous 10 days unless they are a British national, an Irish national or anyone with residence rights in the UK (ie: not just a visitor without a long-term visa). Applications for visitor visas from red list countries will be paused until travel restrictions are lifted.

Arrivals from red list countries must quarantine for 10 days (or the duration of their stay in the UK if it is shorter) as part of the Quarantine Hotel scheme at designated hotels near airports at £1,750 a head. They must also take three tests (before departure to the UK, day 2 and day 8) unless they are 10 years old or under but cannot pay to stop self-isolating early with the Test to Release scheme.

Arrivals in England from 4am on Sunday 28 November 2021 must book a Quarantine Hotel (which includes their tests during their stay) before departure and fill out a Passenger Locator Form detailing contact details and where they will be staying within 48 hours of their journey to the UK.

What are the rules for children coming to the UK from red list countries?

Children aged 11 to 17 must take a COVID-19 test in the 3 days before travel to England.

On arrival in England children aged 5 to 17 must quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 full days and take two COVID-19 tests.

Children aged 4 or under do not have to take any travel tests but must enter managed quarantine.

Who is exempt from coronavirus travel measures?

There are exemptions from the quarantine regime on medical and compassionate grounds.

The concessions to COVID travel measures below are for professional / work reasons and may differ slightly between the countries of the United Kingdom. Click on these links to find out:

If you would like any more clarification, please do contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.