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Look, we get it -- it’s been a long pandemic, and you’re looking forward to the day when you can travel again. And there’s so much to see and do in the UK -- but when will you be able to travel there again?

COVID-19 travel restrictions to and from the UK have been relaxed somewhat since around August, so people from some countries are now allowed to enter the UK without needing to quarantine. Most of the country has been placed on tiered restrictions, and soon, travelers arriving from countries that aren’t on the no-quarantine list will be allowed to isolate for a shorter period with a negative COVID-19 test. Here’s what you need to know about traveling to, from, and within the UK.

Can You Go on Holiday from the UK?

With much of the UK back on strict lockdown, non-essential travel abroad has been banned in England and Wales. You may travel abroad from England for professional or academic purposes, and there may be other exceptions made for other necessary travel. In Wales, you need a reasonable excuse to travel abroad, such as work or school. Northern Ireland has asked its residents to exercise their best judgment when booking holidays abroad.

As of 2 December, England has implemented a three-tiered system to apply different levels of COVID-19 restrictions to different areas, depending on differences in community spread. Starting in December, you can travel abroad from England if you live in a Tier 1 or Tier 2 area. There is a list of countries you can visit from the UK without having to self-isolate when you get back, and it’s updated frequently. It includes many sunny island destinations.

Scotland is not on full lockdown and is still allowing international travel under its four-tier system. If you live in a Level 0 to 2 area, you can still travel abroad on holiday. Wales may continue to restrict travel abroad, but Northern Ireland has no restrictions on international travel. You can also travel within the UK’s common area, the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland, or the Channel Islands, without needing to self-isolate when you return to England.

Quarantine Requirements Change Frequently

When traveling from the UK, keep in mind that you may have to self-isolate when arriving in your destination country, and if it’s on the non-exempt list, again when you return to the UK. It’s getting easier to plan a trip that won’t require you to quarantine in a far-flung hotel, as many countries are beginning to waive quarantine requirements for travelers who can present negative COVID-19 tests. There are currently only a few places that you can travel to this way, but they include Iceland, the Canaries, and the Maldives.

If you travel to a country that’s not on the quarantine exempt list, you will have to self-isolate upon your return. However, from 15 December, you can shorten your quarantine after five days by providing a negative COVID-19 test.

If you travel to a country that’s not on the quarantine exempt list, you will have to self-isolate upon your return. However, from 15 December, you can shorten your quarantine after five days by providing a negative COVID-19 test.

Traveling within the UK

If you’re willing to give up a holiday abroad this year but still might like, for example, a weekend getaway to a chic London boutique hotel, you’ll have to wait until both your area and the area to which you wish to travel are on either Tier 1 or 2, or Level 0 to 2 in Scotland. You should avoid non-essential travel to high-risk areas.

Traveling to the UK

There are currently no restrictions on travel to the UK, but you should consider any travel advisories in place from your own country and avoid traveling to any high-risk areas. England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales all have slightly different restrictions and rules about travel, so make sure to check the rules for the country you’re visiting. If you’re traveling from a non-exempt country, you’ll have to quarantine for at least five to 14 days after your arrival, pending a negative COVID-19 test.

With strict lockdown measures being eased, you should soon be able to travel on holiday from the UK or even visit the country without isolating if you’re within a certain travel corridor. It may be just the time to book a COVID-friendly holiday.


When Will You Be Able to Travel To and From the UK?
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