Know Before You Go
Updated on: 26/02/2020
All travel corridors with the UK are suspended. Strict testing and quarantining rules are currently in place for international arrivals into the UK because of COVID-19. The specific regulations in place may vary in different parts of the UK. Please ensure visitors check the links below for the latest guidance for each nation:
The border measures have been introduced to prevent the spread of new variants of Coronavirus into the UK.
The UK Government recognises the importance of international travel and tourism and is keen to find ways to work closely with the industry to ease restrictions on international travel gradually and sustainably. The Prime Minister announced last week (22 February) a taskforce which will be developing a framework that can facilitate greater inbound travel as soon as the time is right.
Following the Taskforce’s report in April, the Government will take a decision on when international travel can resume. This will be no earlier than 17 May 2021 in England. The UK Government is working closely with the Devolved Administrations. They are setting out approaches for easing for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
We will keep you informed via our newsletters and trade website.
Summary of the roadmaps out of lockdown
A ‘roadmap’ that outlines how lockdown restrictions will be eased in England has been published. It is a four-step approach, with the first step starting on 8 March. There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the data to reflect changes in restrictions, followed by seven days’ notice of the restrictions to be eased. Progression through each step will be based on four tests.
The earliest that we can expect to see the opening up of some outdoor hospitality and self-catering (step 2) is 12 April, with the earliest date for indoor attractions, hospitality and other accommodation, along with some business events and performance events (with capacity restraints) (step 3) being 17 May. International travel will not be permitted until at least 17 May.
Step 4 – no earlier than 21 June – the hope at this stage is to reopen remaining settings such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues, to lift the restrictions on social contact and large events that apply in step 3. This is subject to the outcome of the Events Research Programme, and a review of social distancing measures.
Over the next few months, the Government will also be conducting a review on the following:
- Social distancing and face masks
- The resumption of international travel – a successor to the Global Travel Task Force will report by the 12 April so people can plan for the summer
- COVID status certification to enable reopening of businesses, mindful of discrimination and privacy
- The return of major events.
The Scottish Government has published its roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions. The updated Strategic Framework sets out a phased approach. There will be a gap of at least three weeks between each easing of restrictions to assess the impact of changes against six tools.
The first three phases are focused on the return of education. Phase 4 (no earlier than 26 April) is when there will be the phased re-opening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers. More details will be available in mid-March.
On 19 February, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that Wales will remain at Alert Level 4, with a review in three weeks’ time. The Coronavirus control plan: alert levels in Wales remains their key planning tool.
Public Health Passenger Locator Form
Travellers visiting Great Britain and Northern Ireland from any country must complete a Public Health Passenger Locator Form that collects the following information:
- Contact details
- Travel details (dates etc.)
- Passport details
The form must be completed online and submitted no earlier than 48 hours before arrival.
After completing the form
After visitors complete and submit the form, they’ll receive a confirmation email with a document attached. Before arriving at the border, they must either:
- print a copy of the document
- download the document on their phone
Visitors will need to show this document when they arrive in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Border Force officers will scan the QR code at the top of this document to check visitors have completed the form successfully.
Further information for visitors, including what to do if they develop coronavirus symptoms while travelling, and how to complete the form if they are travelling with someone under 18, can be found by visiting the official government information page.
We’re Good To Go
On 26 February, VisitBritain announced that tourism businesses in the UK registered to the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard scheme can now be automatically issued with the international ‘Safe Travels’ stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
The We’re Good To Go scheme, launched last year by VisitEngland in partnership with the tourism boards of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, means businesses can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked that they have the required processes in place for when people are able to visit them. It has now been recognised by WTTC as meeting its international global standardised health and hygiene protocols and for its role in supporting the recovery of the UK tourism sector.
The WTTC stamp enables travellers to recognise destinations around the world which have adopted global standardised protocols – so they can experience ‘Safe Travels.’
VisitBritain is coordinating the Safe Travels stamp issue in the UK, on behalf of the WTTC, for businesses registered to its We’re Good To Go scheme, with those who welcome international visitors particularly encouraged to apply.
Find out more at visitbritain.com and encourage visitors to look for the mark on individual business websites when they’re thinking about planning their future trip online. This interactive map showcases all tourism and hospitality businesses that have the mark in the UK, allowing visitors to find where it is good to go.
How to travel responsibly
To make their days out as enjoyable as possible in the future, we encourage visitors to plan their trip in advance and to check all of the important facilities and attractions. To ensure everyone can do their bit to travel responsibly, here are a few general steps to help make planning easy, when we’re all able to travel again:
- Visitors should keep in mind that local lockdowns could be implemented in different areas at different times, so they are encouraged to check the interactive map of lockdown restrictions before they travel.
- When planning a trip, remind visitors to check that important facilities – like toilets and car parks – are open before they travel so they’re not caught short. Visitors can find information on public toilets open across Great Britain and Northern Ireland at Lockdown Loo.
- If visitors have an attraction in mind, they should check online to see if they need to pre-book a time slot.
- Across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it is the law that individuals must wear a face mask at all times when using public transport like buses, trains, taxis and minicabs, unless they are exempt from doing so.
- Other locations where face coverings are mandatory differ by nation, and visitors should follow the specific guidance for face coverings for England, Scotland, Walesor Northern Ireland, depending on the country they are visiting.
- If individuals are travelling by air, at arrival they may be requested to wear a face mask inside the airport terminal, to use online check in where possible, and minimise hand luggage. Social distancing restrictions will also be in place, in line with the specific rules for each nation.
- Visitors should keep two metres apart from anyone outside their travelling party – this not only applies to walking, but running, cycling and sitting. Please note:Social distancing is two metres apart in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, visitors should stay two metres apart from people they do not live with where possible, or one metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors). Please see the relevant websites for each nation for further information.
- Some places may be extremely popular, so visitors should be encouraged to get off the beaten track and discover a hidden gem.
- Visitors should ensure they have a bank card for the duration of their stay in Great Britain and Northern Ireland; many outlets are currently only accepting cashless payments.
- It’s also important for visitors to wash their hands regularly and to have hand sanitiser with them for use when public hand-washing facilities are not available.
Official websites / useful links
Government information and advice
For the latest government information and specific advice on travel in each of the four nations, please visit:
- England – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home
- Scotland – https://www.gov.scot/
- Wales – https://gov.wales/coronavirus
- Northern Ireland – https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19
Local lockdown restrictions
For information on current lockdown restrictions across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, please visit the relevant government websites.
Health and safety guidance
What should visitors do if they think they have coronavirus symptoms?
If visitors think they have coronavirus symptoms, they should dial 111 to access the NHS helpline for advice. The free-to-call non-emergency number is available 24 hours a day. The latest health guidance for each individual nation can be found on dedicated pages for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments in Britain provide treatment for genuine life-threatening emergencies. Should visitors require medical help or advice in a non-life-threatening situation, they should call 111 to access the NHS 111 service.
Overseas visitors may need to pay for hospital care they receive, and all visitors are strongly advised to ensure they have adequate insurance cover before travelling. Any coronavirus testing and treatment will not incur any charges.
What to do in an emergency
Visitors should dial 999 in an emergency to reach police, fire and ambulance services, as well as the coastguard. They will need to indicate which service they need. Further services such as mountain rescue and Britain’s voluntary coastguard service, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, can also be accessed via this number.
Calls are free from any phone, but should only be made in genuine emergencies.
If visitors are lost, they should ask a policeman or woman for assistance – they are courteous, approachable and helpful. Traffic wardens may also be able to help with directions. If visitors have been the victim of a crime, they should contact the police by dialling 999 or 101 for non-emergencies.
Police community support officers also work alongside the police, and can also provide advice and guidance, alongside directions and other key information.
Travel to and around Britain
Travel by public transport – facemasks
Across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it is the law that face masks must be worn at all times when using public transport like buses, trains, taxis and minicabs, unless individuals are exempt from doing so
The rules regarding the wearing of facemasks in other locations, including airports and public transport hubs, differ by nation. For further information, visitors should check the dedicated websites for England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
London Heathrow Airport is around 15 miles to the west of central London and has connections to Paddington station via the Heathrow Express, taking 15-20 minutes, or via the Piccadilly Underground Line.
London Gatwick Airport is situated 30 miles to the south of central London, with the Gatwick Express taking passengers to London Victoria station in just 30 minutes. Thameslink and Southern services provide links to several London hubs.
London Stansted Airport is found 40 miles to the north-east of London. The Stansted Express serves Liverpool Street station and takes around 50 minutes. Bus services run from the airport to London’s main hubs.
London City Airport is nine miles to the east of central London, with connections to the Underground network via the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) taking just 22 minutes.
London Luton Airport is situated 30 miles to the north of London and is served by regular services to the capital’s main hubs from Luton Airport Parkway.
Birmingham Airport is around eight miles from central Birmingham and is linked to Birmingham International Railway Station via the AirRail Link, providing routes into the city centre which take as little as 20 minutes.
Manchester Airport is situated around nine miles south of central Manchester, with train services into Manchester Piccadilly station taking around 20 minutes. Regular coach and tram services provide an alternative.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport is found seven miles to the south east of Liverpool city centre, with regular train and bus services taking around 40 minutes.
Cardiff Airport serves as an international gateway to Wales and is around 30 minutes from the city centre, served by the Cardiff Airport Express bus service and trains from Rhoose Cardiff International Airport station.
Edinburgh Airport is situated to the west of the Scottish capital, with regular tram and bus links to the city centre taking around 35 minutes.
Glasgow Airport is eight miles to the west of the city, with the Glasgow Airport Express bus service taking travellers to the city centre in just 15 minutes.
Domestic Air Travel
As distances are small within the UK, domestic air travel isn’t essential, but is a good option if visitors want to save time for longer journeys such as between London and Scotland. Internal flight providers include British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair and Aer Lingus.
National Express has introduced a range of safety measures and is a holder of the ‘We’re Good To Go’ mark. Their coaches provide direct connections between major airports (London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, Luton, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Coventry, East Midlands and Bristol) and many British cities and towns. They also have a regular service between Gatwick and Heathrow and are usually a cheaper alternative to rail.
Discover further information about travelling to Britain by air.
Brexit and the transition
Great Britain and Northern Ireland have left the EU, and the transition period ended on 31 December 2020. We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors back and want to keep you updated that from 1 January 2021, there are new rules for those who wish to visit us from abroad. For further details please check the official government website or see our visiting the UK from 1 January 2021 page. There will also be new rules for those who wish to work and study in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as part of a new points-based immigration system for EU citizens. If visitors would like further information, they should visit gov.uk to find out more.