Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and managed isolation (quarantine)

Quarantine rules and information on the process for people entering Scotland.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and managed isolation (quarantine)
Testing for people travelling to Scotland

Testing for people travelling to Scotland

You must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test to travel to Scotland from abroad.

You are under a legal obligation to get a COVID-19 test before you travel. This has been the law since 18 January 2021.

You must present proof of a negative test result. You will not be able to board unless you have a valid reason and could be fined £480 on arrival into Scotland. You will also be required to self-isolate for 10 days regardless of where you have travelled from.

Take a coronavirus test before you travel to Scotland

You must have proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test to travel to Scotland.

You must take a test even if you are a UK citizen.

You must take the test in the 3 days before you start your journey to Scotland.

For example, if you travel on Friday, you must take a test no earlier than Tuesday.

You will need to present the proof of your negative test before you board to travel to Scotland.

If you don’t present proof of a negative test result certificate, you will not be able to board any form of transport to travel to Scotland.

If you arrive in Scotland without proof of a negative test result, you could be fined £480 and you must also self-isolate for 10 days. 

Test providers and type of test

You will need to find a test provider. You must make sure that the test provider can meet the standards for pre-departure testing.

The test must:

  • meet performance standards of ≥97% specificity, ≥80% 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 though under the proviso that most lateral flow devices may not meet the required standard specified above

It is your responsibility to ensure the test meets the minimum standards for sensitivity, specificity and viral load details so you must check with your test provider that it meets those standards.

You may not be able to travel if the test does not meet these standards. It is your responsibility to ensure you get the right test that meets the above requirements.

Where information about providers of tests is available locally, FCDO travel advice pages will be updated with this information. If you need consular assistance you should contact the nearest consulate, embassy or high commission.

If you take your test in the UK, ahead of a return journey of less than 3 days, you must use a private test provider. You cannot use an NHS test.

Information that the test result must include

Your test result must be in either English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted, and you must provide the original test result certificate. The certificate can be provided in hard (paper) copy or digitally, for example in an email or in a text message. It must include the following information:

  • your name, which should match the name on your travel documents
  • your date of birth or age
  • the negative result of the test
  • the date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
  • the name of the test provider and their contact details
  • the name of the test device

If the test result does not include this information you will not be able to board, and may not be able to travel to Scotland. If you arrive without a test result that includes this information, you will be committing a criminal offence and could receive a £480 fine and must isolate for 10 days.

Your test result can be provided as a physical, printed document, or via email or text message, which you can show on your phone. Make sure that your device is charged.

Positive test results

If your test result is positive, you must not travel. You must follow local rules and guidance for positive coronavirus cases.

If the result is inconclusive, you must take another test.

British nationals who need consular assistance should contact the nearest consulate, embassy or high commission.

Getting a test in a country you transit through

It is your responsibility to make sure you have a valid test result to show when you board. You should not rely on being able to get a test in a country that you will transit through as part of your journey to Scotland. It is possible that local or entry restrictions will mean you are not able to get a test.

If you don’t have a test result because you were unable to get one in a country you transited through, and you are not permitted to enter the transit country, you will be allowed to board your transport to Scotland. But you could be fined £480 on arrival in Scotland for not having a valid test result and you must self-isolate for 10 days.

Exemptions – people who don’t need to take a test

Travel from some countries

You do not need to take a test if you began your journey to Scotland from:

  • Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Wales, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey
  • Ascension, Falkland Islands, St Helena
  • Myanmar

For a limited time period, you also do not need to take a test if you began your journey to Scotland from:

  • Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia or Barbados (until 4am Thursday 21 January 2021 – you will need a test to travel on or after this date)

Children and medical reasons

Children under 11 are exempt from the requirement to possess a negative test result. A child aged between 11 and 18 must possess a negative test result, but the accompanying adult of said child is responsible for making sure a negative test result is produced. 

You do not need to take a test if you are travelling to the UK:

  • for urgent medical treatment or are accompanying someone who is travelling for urgent medical treatment, and it is not reasonably practicable for you to obtain a negative COVID-19 test in the 3 days before departure
  • if you have a medical condition which means you cannot take a test – you must present a note from a medical practitioner at check in which must be in English or translated into English and to Border Force staff on arrival in Scotland
  • if you have a disability and it was not reasonably practicable for you to take a test
  • if you began your journey where a test was not available or where it was not reasonably practicable for you to obtain a qualifying test due to lack of reasonable access to a qualifying test or testing facility and it was not reasonably practicable for you to obtain a test in your last point of departure (f that was different to journey start)
  • if your journey from start to end before reaching Scotland meant you could not get the test within the 3 days and could not get it in last point of departure

Exempt jobs

People doing the following jobs do not need to take a test:

  • border and customs officials
  • defence personnel, visiting forces and government contractors
  • hauliers
  • air, maritime and rail crew
  • civil aviation inspectors
  • people transporting human cells and blood products
  • seamen and masters and inspectors and surveyors of ships
  • specialist technical workers doing emergency works

Also, in limited circumstances:

  • foreign government officials
  • UK government officials conducting essential state business, essential government work or essential policing

Read more details of these job exemptions to see if they apply to you. Please note that the exemptions for Channel Tunnel work operators do not apply in Scotland.

Passenger locator form

You must complete a passenger locator form before you travel to Scotland.

Test to Release scheme

Test to Release is not available to those travelling to Scotland.


First published: 14 Feb 2021 Last updated: 1 Mar 2021 -