Travelling to the UK (Quarantine Rules)


As part of the Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, a range of new measures are being introduced at the UK border affecting all international arrivals. This includes the introduction of new quarantine rules for those travelling to the UK.


COVID-19 border measures

The new rules take effect from 8 June 2020 and will apply at the border to both UK residents and visitors arriving by air, sea, car and international rail.

They include:

  • All international arrivals must supply their journey, contact and accommodation information.
  • All travellers are required to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.

Arrivals will also be strongly advised to download and use the NHS contact tracing app, and increased information will be given about the UK’s social distancing regime.


Data collection

With effect from 8 June 2020, all travellers to the UK will need to complete an online form before they travel, to give their contact and journey details.

Travellers are advised to keep a record of the completed form with them to prove at the border that you have provided the required details.

The details provided will be used to contact you during the 14-day quarantine period and in the event a fellow passenger has developed symptoms of COVID-19.


14 day quarantine for arrivals into the UK

Travellers arriving into the UK from 8 June 2020 must travel straight to the place they are staying and remain there for the first 14 days they are in the UK, unless one of the limited exemptions applies.

Family or friends are allowed to collect you from the airport, station or port.

Public transport should only be used if you have no alternative. When using public transport, you will need to wear something to cover your nose and mouth and observe social distancing rules at all times.

Self-isolation is to be in the traveller’s own choice of accommodation. Where an individual is unable to evidence quarantine accommodation, they will be required to self-isolate in accommodation arranged by the Government.

You must remain in self-isolation at the place you are staying for a period of 14 days.

You may only be permitted to leave your accommodation if:

  • you need urgent medical treatment
  • you need support from social services
  • you need food and medicine and cannot get them delivered or get a friend or family member to bring them
  • you are attending the funeral of a close relative, or for other compassionate reasons
  • there is an emergency (the Home Office website uses the example of a fire at the property where you are self-isolating).

During this period, you are not allowed to have family, friends or visitors over unless they are providing “essential care”.

If you are staying with family, friends or others, you will need to avoid contact with them during the period of self-isolation and minimise any time in shared areas.

If you are staying at a hotel or guest house, you have to stay 2 meters away from all staff guests and you are not allowed to use shared spaces such as restaurants, bars or health and sports amenities.

If it will not be possible to safely self-isolate for the period of 14 days, you should inform the border official for alternative accommodation to be arranged


After 14 days self-isolation

If after 14 days self-isolation you do not develop symptoms of COVID-19, you can come out of quarantine. You must then follow the most up to date guidance from the UK Government, such as in relation to social distancing.


Fines for failure to comply

Travellers can be fined for failing to comply with the new rules.

If you refuse to fill in the contact form, you could be fined £100 and could be refused entry if you are not a UK resident or British citizen.

If you refuse to self-isolate in England and Wales, you can be fined £1000, or face further action.


Exemptions from self-isolation & data collection

The rules on quarantine and providing contact details do not apply if you are travelling to the UK from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.


Exemptions from data collection

Exclusions from the requirement to provide contact details include:

  • members of diplomatic missions (non-UK) and consular posts in the United Kingdom, officers, servants or representatives of international organisations and their families or dependents
  • defence personnel and contractors – required to deliver defined essential Defence tasks, including visiting forces or NATO
  • an official required to work on essential border security duties


Exemptions from self-isolation

An extensive list of exemptions apply to the 14-day quarantine rule, including (among others):

  • hauliers
  • transit passengers who do not pass border control
  • registered health or care professionals travelling to the UK to provide essential healthcare, including where this is not related to coronavirus
  • Eurostar and Eurotunnel train drivers and crew, Eurotunnel Shuttle drivers, freight train drivers, crew and essential cross-border rail freight workers operating through the Channel Tunnel
  • workers undertaking activities in offshore installations, upstream petroleum infrastructure, critical safety work on offshore installations and wells that are being decommissioned or which are being preserved pending demolition or reuse or activities for the provision of workers, goods, materials or equipment or in the provision of other essential services required to support the safe operation of activities
  • postal workers involved in the transport of mail into and out of the UK
  • persons engaged in urgent or essential work for the BBC’s broadcasting transmission network and services
  • seasonal agricultural workers who have an offer of employment for seasonal work to carry out specific activities in edible horticulture on a named farm. You can start work immediately but you must self-isolate on the farm. However, you may mix with fellow workers
  • persons who reside in the UK and who pursue an activity as an employed or self-employed person in another country to which they usually go at least once a week
  • Covid-19 research scientists and others involved with the protection of supply into the UK, national security, critical infrastructure and ensuring the UK meets international obligations.

The rules about who does not need to fill in the form or self-isolate will remain under review and may change in the future.


Developing coronavirus symptoms

You must not travel if you have coronavirus symptoms.

If you develop coronavirus symptoms during your journey to the UK, you should advise a member of the crew or driver on your plane, ferry, train or bus. They will then let staff in the airport, port or station know, so they can tell you what you should do next when you arrive.


Need assistance?

Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions relating to your immigration status or that of any of your employees in the UK.



Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

Contact DavidsonMorris
Get in touch with DavidsonMorris for general enquiries, feedback and requests for information.
Sign up to our award winning newsletters!
Find us on: