News

Pre-departure coronavirus testing update

Published: 12 Jan 2021 14:30

New public health requirements introduced.

From 0400 on 18 January 2021, passengers travelling to Scotland from outside the Common Travel Area must have a valid negative COVID-19 test result, taken no more than three days before the scheduled time of departure.  This will be checked by operators, and passengers with a positive test result or an invalid certificate will be refused boarding. 

This addition of pre-departure testing (PDT) does not replace the requirement for all passengers arriving from countries not on the quarantine exemption list to self-isolate for ten days, even with a negative test.  

Border Force will undertake spot checks of passengers arriving in Scotland as an additional measure to ensure compliance with PDT and will be able to apply a Fixed Penalty Notice of £480 if they identify travellers without a valid certificate.

Non-essential travel to or from Scotland is currently illegal and will not immediately change with the introduction of pre-departure testing.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said:

“Non-essential travel into or out of Scotland is currently illegal and that will remain the case while we work to suppress the new strain of COVID-19 and the requirement for pre-departure testing does not change this.

“The Scottish Government has been consistently clear about the risks associated with international travel and the importance of public health measures in helping to stop the spread of coronavirus.  There is no doubt this measure, being implemented by administrations across the UK, provides an additional level of protection to guard against importation of the virus and is absolutely essential to avoid further upsurges in infections.

“The requirement for pre-departure testing will add to our suite of public health measures as we seek to help drive down transmission of the virus to safeguard health, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Background

The regulations will be laid before the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 13 January and come into effect from 0400am on Friday 15 January.  The regulations will be subject to review every 28 days.

A valid test result must be from a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, or another highly reliable test with at least 99% specificity and 97% sensitivity for detecting COVID-19; it must show the test was taken within three days of beginning the journey; and the result must be presented in English, French or Spanish.  Children aged 10 and under are not required to take a test, and there are a very limited range of further exemptions that will be specified in regulations.

Further information about the foreign travel public health rules, pre-departure testing including quarantine requirements, can be read on the Scottish Government website. This includes the existing list of overseas destinations where those arriving in Scotland are exempt from self-isolation.

Those travelling abroad should check in advance for any local requirements to quarantine on arrival at their destination.

Public health rules for international travel are an important part of Scotland’s wider response to the pandemic to limit the introduction of new chains of transmission.