Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel and transport

Last updated: 8 Oct 2021 - see all updates
Published: 27 Aug 2021

Guidance on travel rules and restrictions.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel and transport
General travel

General travel

Travel is allowed within Scotland.

Travel is allowed between Scotland and England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

For restrictions on travel between Scotland and the rest of the world see the international travel section below.

These rules may be changed depending on the state of the pandemic in Scotland and in other countries. Please check back here for up to date information before you travel.

Travelling to the Scottish islands: pre-departure testing

To reduce the risk of coronavirus being brought into island communities, we are encouraging anyone planning to travel to a Scottish island to test before they do so. 

You can order rapid lateral flow tests for delivery to your home anywhere in the UK and they should arrive within 24-48 hours. 

You should test three days before you plan to travel and then again on the day of departure. If you test positive, you should complete your period of self-isolation before you begin your journey. 

If your test result is negative it is not a guarantee that you do not have coronavirus. You must continue to follow national and local restrictions, including coronavirus guidance. If you develop coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate and book a PCR test.

This is a voluntary scheme and you will not need evidence of a negative test to travel to a Scottish island. However, we encourage you to participate in order to reduce the risk that you inadvertently carry coronavirus into one of our island communities.

Travelling within the Common Travel Area (UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland)

A Common Travel Area (CTA) exists between the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland. 

Travel within the UK, and to the Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, is not counted as international travel. This means that you do not need to test, isolate or fill in a passenger locator form if:

  • you’re travelling to Scotland from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey
  • you have not travelled anywhere other than these areas in the 10 days before you arrive in Scotland

Your plans may still be affected if the area you’re travelling to or from has local restrictions in place. You should check those countries’ own rules on entry and other restrictions before you travel. 

International travel (outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man)

We use a risk assessment for international travel. This affects both residents of Scotland on their return and overseas visitors:

  • arrivals from red list countries will be required to enter a managed isolation hotel and stay there for 10 days. Travel to such countries should only be for essential reasons
  • arrivals from non-red list countries have different rules for testing and isolation which depends on vaccine status

Further information on this process is available in our international travel guidance.

Travelling safely 

Transport Scotland has produced guidance on travelling safely in all forms of transport

You can help keep Scotland moving by:

  • reducing the need to travel: work from home or near home if you can
  • planning ahead: if you need to make a journey, check your travel options in advance
  • choosing active travel: walk, wheel or cycle where possible

Public transport

Transport providers will have procedures to promote the safety of customers and staff, but it is an individual’s responsibility to comply with guidance.

On public transport you must by law wear a face covering, unless you are exempt, and comply with the physical distancing measures that are in place. Find out more about face coverings

Car and vehicle sharing

You should not share a vehicle with anyone from another household, unless you absolutely have to.

You can read more information on car and vehicle sharing on the Transport Scotland website.

You should not travel to work/car share if you have any symptoms of coronavirus, as outlined on the NHS Inform website. 

Note the above guidance relates to private vehicles. For taxis and private hire vehicles you should refer to guidance on taxis and private hire vehicles.

If you are travelling in a vehicle as part of your job or business, safe operation of workplaces applies, therefore please refer to your employer. For employers, you may wish to refer to guidance for safer workplaces.

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, all passengers will be assessed for close contact and are likely to be advised to self-isolate pending the outcome of a PCR test.

If you are a partially or non-vaccinated adult, you will be asked to self-isolate for 10 days, whether or not you have symptoms.

If you are a fully vaccinated adult, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible. Provided you return a negative PCR test result and remain asymptomatic, you may end self-isolation as a close contact.

Fully vaccinated means you have received both of your vaccine doses, with at least two weeks passing since your second dose. This gives you the maximum possible protection from the vaccination.

If you are younger than 18 years and 4 months or medically unable to be vaccinated, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible. Provided you return a negative PCR test result and remain asymptomatic, you may end self-isolation as a close contact. However, children under 5 years will be encouraged but not required to take a PCR test. 18 years and 4 months is the age specified to allow 4 months for individuals who turn 18 time to get fully vaccinated.

If you return a positive test result, you will still need to isolate for 10 days.

Staying safe if you've ended self-isolation

Even if you’re fully vaccinated, you can still get coronavirus and pass it on to others.

If you’re a close contact who can end self-isolation, you can help protect others by following our guidance on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread.

As well as getting a PCR test, you may also consider:

For further information please visit our advice on how to travel safely.


First published: 27 Aug 2021 Last updated: 8 Oct 2021 -