On Friday 8 January 2021, the UK Minister for Transport announced that all people of any nationality aged over 11 years old arriving in the UK from 4am on Friday 15 January must have a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of arrival at the border. If not, a £500 on the spot fine will be issued. The list of acceptable types of test has not yet been published.

Whilst this last minute change of the travel rules will be unfair for those travelling to the UK this week, it brings the UK in line with France who has required passengers to provide a negative COVID-19 test since before Christmas 2020.

If you are due to travel back to the UK from 15 January, you'll need to consider the following four points:

1. Pre-departure: complete a Passenger Locator Form online

This is required for all passengers of any age arriving in the UK except those who are travelling from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man (having stayed there for 10 days or more). The form must be completed no more than 48 hours prior to arrival at the UK border. If you wish to reduce the self-isolation period from 10 days to 5 days using the ‘Test to Release’ scheme, you should declare this on your Passenger Locator Form.

Failure to complete a passenger locator form will result in a fine of £500 and those who are not British or UK residents, may be prevented from entering the UK.

2. Pre-departure: obtain a negative COVID-19 test 

This is required for passengers over 11 years old travelling to the UK from international destinations by plane, boat or train. Hauliers and people flying from countries without infrastructure to support testing are currently excluded. The negative result must be dated no earlier than 72 hours prior to departure.

The government has not yet specified the types of tests accepted, only that a negative test is required prior to departure. The French government have a list of Antigen tests acceptable for France here. These are the 15 minute result tests. 

If found not to have a valid, negative COVID-19 test result, the traveller will be fined £500.

3. Post-arrival: Self-isolation

This is required for all passengers except those who travel from Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or a country listed on the travel corridor list. Those working in certain jobs are exempt. Passengers are required to self-isolate for 10 days (or 5 days under the test to release scheme). A negative COVID-19 test prior to departure does not provide an exemption from self-isolation.

Failure to self-isolate may result in a fine of up to £10,000.

4. Lockdown

The UK is currently under various forms of lockdown. People are instructed by law to stay at home with only limited excuses to leave home.