Know Before You Go
Updated on: 26/11/2020
Restrictions and local lockdowns are in place to varying levels across Britain and quarantine is still in place for some international visitors and those returning from aboard. So, we recommend that all visitors check the latest government advice and local guidance on travel so they’re in the know before they go.
It’s important to encourage visitors to check the official websites of organisations and attractions in advance, to ensure they’re up to date on opening hours and any restrictions in place.
Please keep in mind that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently have different guidelines, advice and timelines for re-opening tourism. Local and national lockdowns are being implemented across Great Britain and Northern Ireland at different times. For more information on specific areas, visitors should check the relevant government pages and the interactive map of lockdown restrictions before they travel.
Information for visitors travelling to Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Visitors do not need to self-isolate when they arrive in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland if they are travelling or returning from certain countries and territories. The lists of these countries and territories vary for each respective nation and can be found by following the links below:
If visitors have not been to, or made a ‘transit stop’, in a country that’s not on the list for that nation in the previous 14 days, they will not need to self-isolate. The relevant travel tickets and documentation should tell visitors if they are making a transit stop.
Visitors will still be required to abide by the restrictions in place in each nation even if they do not need to isolate.
If visitors have been to, or made a transit stop in a country that’s not on the travel list, they will have to self-isolate until 14 days have passed since they left that country, if they are arriving into Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. From 15 December, if visitors are arriving into England from countries not featured on the Government’s travel corridor list, they will have the option to book and pay to take a test after five days of self-isolation, with a negative result releasing them from the need to isolate. Under this ‘Test to release for international travel’ strategy, if visitors are arriving into England by plane, ferry or train, they should book their test before they travel; they must complete a passenger locator form; and they will still need to self-isolate for five days before taking a test. For additional information and specific guidance for each of the four nations, please follow the links above.
Please note: the list of countries and territories for each nation is subject to frequent change and travellers should be encouraged to check regularly ahead of planning any trip to Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
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
To help visitors plan their travels, we’ve worked together with VisitEngland and the national tourist organisations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to launch a Great Britain and Northern Ireland-wide industry standard and ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark. The scheme 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.
To obtain the mark businesses must complete a self-assessment through the online platform, including a check-list confirming they have put the necessary processes in place, before receiving certification and the ‘We’re Good To Go’ mark for display in their premises and online. For added reassurance, an ‘alert’ system will ensure that businesses signed up to the standard are notified of any changes to the official guidance – so people can visit them with confidence.
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 trip online. This interactive map showcases all tourism and hospitality businesses that have the mark, allowing visitors to find where it is good to go.
How to travel responsibly
To make their days out as enjoyable as possible, 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:
- 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
The latest government information and specific advice on travel in each of the four nations can be found by visiting:
Local lockdown restrictions
For information on current lockdown restrictions across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, please visit the relevant government websites or check: https://visual.parliament.uk/research/visualisations/coronavirus-restrictions-map/
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 after Brexit comes to an end this year. From 1 January 2021, there will be new rules for those who wish to visit Great Britain and Northern Ireland from abroad. For further details, please check the official government website or visit our Brexit FAQs page.