Coronavirus: What are the UK travel quarantine rules?

Coronavirus: What are the UK travel quarantine rules?

Cala Aiguablava Beach near Girona in SpainImage copyright

Travellers returning to the UK from Spain will have to quarantine for 14 days from Sunday.

Its removal from the list of exempt countries follows “a significant change over the last week in both the level and pace” of coronavirus cases, the government said.

What are the rules for Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands?

People already in Spain can stay for the remainder of their holiday, the government says.

However, from Sunday, they will have to self-isolate for two weeks upon their return.

The rules apply to travellers arriving from anywhere in Spain – including the Canary and Balearic Islands.

And the government is now advising “against all but essential travel to mainland Spain”.

Travellers arriving into England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all affected by the new guidelines.

What are the quarantine rules?

Travellers from affected countries – including UK nationals – are asked to provide an address where they will self-isolate for 14 days. They can be fined £100 for failing to fill in a form with these details.

One in five eligible passengers will be called or texted to check they are following the rules.

People who do not self-isolate can be fined up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and those returning to Scotland could be fined £480, with fines up to £5,000 for persistent offenders.

Passengers should drive in their own car to their destination, where possible. If they don’t provide an address, the government will arrange accommodation at the traveller’s expense.

Once at their destination, they must not use public transport or taxis during the quarantine period. They must also not go to work, school, or public areas, or have visitors except for essential support.

Not are they allowed to go out to buy food, or other essentials, if they can rely on others.

People returning from overseas will not be automatically eligible for statutory sick pay during this period, unless they meet the required conditions – for example displaying coronavirus symptoms.

Which countries won’t have to quarantine?

Anyone arriving from the Common Travel Area (CTA) – the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man – does not have to enter quarantine, as long as they have been in the CTA for at least 14 days.

Since 10 July, travellers from than than 50 countries deemed ”low risk” do not have to go in to quarantine when they enter England.

A further five countries – Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadine – will be added to the list on 28 July.

Health measures including quarantine rules are set by each UK nation separately – although Wales has adopted the same exemptions as England.

Since 10 July, Scotland’s quarantine measures have also been eased, as have Northern Ireland’s.

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Getty Images

The government has also lifted its travel advice banning all but essential international travel for selected countries. It hasn’t given a date for when the quarantine policy will end.

Which workers are exempt from quarantine?

There are a number of people who are exempt, regardless of their country of origin, including:

  • Road haulage and freight workers
  • Medical and care professionals providing essential healthcare
  • Seasonal agricultural workers if they self-isolate where they are working
  • UK residents who ordinarily travel overseas at least once a week for work

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PA Media

Image caption

Seasonal agricultural workers are exempt if they self-isolate where they are working

Do other countries have quarantine rules?

Travellers could find they also have to enter quarantine when they arrive in another country, even if they do not have to quarantine in the UK on their return. Some countries have introduced screening measures such as temperature checks, and entry restrictions. For example:

  • Austria requires Britons to self-isolate unless they have a recent medical certificate or test negative for coronavirus on arrival
  • New Zealand has barred almost all foreign travellers from visiting, while Australia requires an exemption visa if you are not a resident or a citizen
  • South Korea imposes a 14-day quarantine
  • Visitors to Iceland can either choose to pay for a test or go into quarantine
  • You are not allowed to enter Cyprus if you have been in the UK in the last 14 days

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Many airports have taken measures to help enforce social distancing rules.

What has the response been?

The introduction of quarantine was not welcomed by the UK’s travel industry when it was first announced.

Airlines UK, which represents various airlines, said quarantine would have a ”devastating impact” on business, but noted there had been a huge increase in bookings in the days before the announcement.

British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair have dropped the legal challenge they launched against the policy now that there is an extensive list of exemptions.

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CoronaVirus translator

What do all these terms mean?

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  • Antibodies test
    A medical test that can show if a person has had the coronavirus and now has some immunity. The test detects antibodies in the blood, which are produced by the body to fight off the disease.

  • Asymptomatic
    Someone who has a disease but does not have any of the symptoms it causes. Some studies suggest some people with coronavirus carry the disease but don’t show the common symptoms, such as a persistent cough or high temperature.
  • Containment phase
    The first part of the UK’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which involved trying to identify infected people early and trace anyone who had been in close contact with them.
  • Coronavirus
    One of a group of viruses that can cause severe or mild illness in humans and animals. The coronavirus currently sweeping the world causes the disease Covid-19. The common cold and influenza (flu) are other types of coronaviruses.
  • Covid-19
    The disease caused by the coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. It primarily affects the lungs.
  • Delay phase
    The second part of the UK’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus, in which measures such as social distancing are used to delay its spread.
  • Fixed penalty notice
    A fine designed to deal with an offence on the spot, instead of in court. These are often for driving offences, but now also cover anti-social behaviour and breaches of the coronavirus lockdown.
  • Flatten the curve
    Health experts use a line on a chart to show numbers of new coronavirus cases. If a lot of people get the virus in a short period of time, the line might rise sharply and look a bit like a mountain. However, taking measures to reduce infections can spread cases out over a longer period and means the “curve” is flatter. This makes it easier for health systems to cope.
  • Flu
    Short for influenza, a virus that routinely causes disease in humans and animals, in seasonal epidemics.
  • Furlough
    Supports firms hit by coronavirus by temporarily helping pay the wages of some staff. It allows employees to remain on the payroll, even though they aren’t working.
  • Herd immunity
    How the spread of a disease slows after a sufficiently large proportion of a population has been exposed to it.
  • Immune
    A person whose body can withstand or fend off a disease is said to be immune to it. Once a person has recovered from the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, for example, it is thought they cannot catch it again for a certain period of time.
  • Incubation period
    The period of time between catching a disease and starting to display symptoms.
  • Intensive care
    Hospital wards which treat patients who are very ill. They are run by specially-trained healthcare staff and contain specialist equipment.
  • Lockdown
    Restrictions on movement or daily life, where public buildings are closed and people told to stay at home. Lockdowns have been imposed in several countries as part of drastic efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Mitigation phase
    The third part of the UK’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which will involve attempts to lessen the impact of a high number of cases on public services. This could mean the NHS halting all non-critical care and police responding to major crimes and emergencies only.
  • NHS 111
    The NHS’s 24-hour phone and online service, which offers medical advice to anyone who needs it. People in England and Wales are advised to ring the service if they are worried about their symptoms. In Scotland, they should check NHS inform, then ring their GP in office hours or 111 out of hours. In Northern Ireland, they should call their GP.
  • Outbreak
    Multiple cases of a disease occurring rapidly, in a cluster or different locations.
  • Pandemic
    An epidemic of serious disease spreading rapidly in many countries simultaneously.
  • Phase 2
    This is when the UK will start to lift some of its lockdown rules while still trying to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
  • PPE
    PPE, or personal protective equipment, is clothing and kit such as masks, aprons, gloves and goggles used by medical staff, care workers and others to protect themselves against infection from coronavirus patients and other people who might be carrying the disease.
  • Quarantine
    The isolation of people exposed to a contagious disease to prevent its spread.
  • R0
    R0, pronounced “R-naught”, is the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person. If the R0 of coronavirus in a particular population is 2, then on average each case will create two more new cases. The value therefore gives an indication of how much the infection could spread.
  • Recession
    This happens when there is a significant drop in income, jobs and sales in a country for two consecutive three-month periods.
  • Sars
    Severe acute respiratory syndrome, a type of coronavirus that emerged in Asia in 2003.
  • Self-isolation
    Staying inside and avoiding all contact with other people, with the aim of preventing the spread of a disease.
  • Social distancing
    Keeping away from other people, with the aim of slowing down transmission of a disease. The government advises not seeing friends or relatives other than those you live with, working from home where possible and avoiding public transport.
  • State of emergency
    Measures taken by a government to restrict daily life while it deals with a crisis. This can involve closing schools and workplaces, restricting the movement of people and even deploying the armed forces to support the regular emergency services.
  • Statutory instrument
    These can be used by government ministers to implement new laws or regulations, or change existing laws. They are an easier alternative to passing a full Act of Parliament.
  • Symptoms
    Any sign of disease, triggered by the body’s immune system as it attempts to fight off the infection. The main symptoms of the coronavirus are a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.
  • Vaccine
    A treatment that causes the body to produce antibodies, which fight off a disease, and gives immunity against further infection.
  • Ventilator
    A machine that takes over breathing for the body when disease has caused the lungs to fail.
  • Virus
    A tiny agent that copies itself inside the living cells of any organism. Viruses can cause these cells to die and interrupt the body’s normal chemical processes, causing disease.

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