This article is reviewed regularly (on a monthly basis) by Wego’s editorial team to ensure that the content is up to date & accurate.

Updated 9 December 2021

Following the outbreak of a new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, UK has updated its red-list and has also released a new set of rules for arrivals from these countries. Eligible arrivals coming in from red list countries will have to face mandatory quarantine, while other travellers will not be allowed entry.

Wondering if your country is on the list? Here is everything you need to know about the UK’s red list.

What are the countries on the red list?

If you have been in a country or territory on the red list in the 10 days before you arrive in England, you will only be allowed to enter the UK only if you are either a British or Irish National, or have residence rights in the UK:

  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • Eswatini
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe


Before travelling to England

Before travelling to England from a red-list country, passengers, irrespective of their vaccination status, must mandatorily:

Children aged 12 to 17 must take a COVID-19 test in the 2 days before travelling to England. On arrival in England children aged 5 to 17 must undertake a 10 day-quarantine in a managed hotel, and go through two Covid-19 tests.


Quarantine requirements

British citizens and residents coming from the red-listed countries will face a 10-day mandatory quarantine in government-approved hotels upon arrival. They must then quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 full days and take two COVID-19 tests on or before day two and on or after day eight of quarantining.

This also applies to children aged 5 to 17 years old. Children aged 4 or under do not have to take any travel tests but must enter managed quarantine.

Travellers will have to give the address and details of the place of quarantine on their passenger locator form.

Breaking the quarantine rules means facing a penalty of up to £10,000

Testing positive while in quarantine

If you get a positive result from your day 2 or day 8 test, you must quarantine for a further 10 days from the day after you have taken the test. If you are in quarantine with people you’ve travelled with, they will also need to quarantine for 10 days from the day after the test.

If you get a positive result from your day 2 test, you will not need to take any further tests because you will quarantine through the period when you may be infectious to others.


Testing guidelines

Two tests will be administered on the 2nd and the 8th day of the quarantine.

If a traveller receives a positive result from the day 2 test, they must quarantine for 10 days beginning the day after the test was taken (this means until day 13). If the said traveller is in quarantine with people they have travelled with, they will also need to quarantine until day 13.

Receiving a positive result from the day 2 test means further tests will not be required.

On day 8, the traveller will need to take a COVID-19 test unless they have received a positive result from the day 2 test. If receiving a positive test result from the day 8 test, said traveller will be required to quarantine until day 19.

If the traveller has been quarantined for 10 days and received a negative result to both tests, they may then end their quarantine.

However, if on day 2 the test shows that the traveller has a variant of COVID-19 known as a ‘variant of concern’, they will receive further calls and their contacts will be asked to be tested.

Countries and territories are being moved between red, amber and green lists as and when the conditions change. Travellers are advised to sign up for email alerts from the government website to be notified of updates to these lists.


Travelling to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

The following rules are applicable if you have been in a country or territory on the red list in the last 10 days

Travel to Scotland

According to the Scottish government, If you’ve been in a red list country in the 10 days before you arrive in Scotland, you’ll need to quarantine at a hotel in Scotland for 10 days (11 nights) as soon as you arrive. You cannot choose which hotel you stay in. There are hotel rooms available for red list arrivals at Edinburgh Airport

Before travelling to Scotland from a red list country you need to:

On arrival in Scotland, you must quarantine the hotel you’ve booked for 10 days. If either of your PCR tests is positive for COVID-19, you may need to quarantine at your hotel for longer than 10 days.

Please note that only a small number of people with certain jobs, or in need of essential medical treatment, are exempt from needing to isolate in a hotel after arriving from a red list country.

Travel to Wales

According to the Welsh government, when travelling to the UK from a red list country, you cannot travel directly to Wales. Instead, you must enter through a designated port in England or Scotland.

Travellers arriving from a red list country must:

Post arrival tests and managed quarantine must be booked before your departure, through the CTM portal.

Should your address or contact details change whilst you are in managed quarantine then you must update this as and when required by submitting a new passenger locator form.

To know about some exemptions from certain travelling requirements for specific categories of people click here.

Travel to Northern Ireland

Only British or Irish nationals or those with residency rights in the UK are permitted to travel to Northern Ireland from a red list country. Travellers to Northern Ireland who have either transited through or been in, a red list country will need to consider the following:

  • complete a UK Passenger Locator Form in the 48 hours  before arrival in Northern Ireland
  • if aged 12 or older, provide proof of a negative pre-departure PCR or LFD COVID-19 test taken in the two days before your service to Northern Ireland departs.
  • this will apply whether you qualify as fully vaccinated or not
  • book a 10-day managed isolation package (managed hotel quarantine), which includes your day two and day eight PCR tests

After you arrive in Northern Ireland, you must travel directly from your port of arrival to your managed quarantine hotel to begin your period of managed isolation (hotel quarantine).

All those aged 12 years and over must take a pre-departure PCR or LFD COVID-19 test, taken in the two days before their departure to Northern Ireland. If your journey is a multi-leg journey, you must take the test two days before the start of the first leg.

If you arrive in Northern Ireland without proof of a negative test result, you could be fined £500, as this is a criminal offence. You can also be fined if the test doesn’t meet the required standards or contain all of the necessary information like:

  • meet performance standards of greater than or equal to 97 per cent specificity, greater than or equal to 80 per cent sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml
  • this could include tests such as:
    • a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests
    • an antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device (LFD)

You can choose to take a test:

  • in the place where you start your journey
  • in another country on your way to Northern Ireland

If you plan to take a test on your way to Northern Ireland, you must make sure that this is possible before you set out.

We will update this article as new developments unfold.

Featured image © pikisuperstar/Freepik