Publication - Advice and guidance

Extended households and living alone

Published: 3 Feb 2021

What extended households are, who they are for, and rules you need to follow if you have formed one.

Published:
3 Feb 2021
Extended households and living alone

What an extended household is

An extended household is a support network which joins two households.

You have to meet certain criteria to form an extended household. This means not everyone can form one.

Once you’re in an extended household, you can think of yourself as being in one ‘household’. This means you can treat the other household in your extended household as part of your own household.

You can travel to visit members of your extended household even if there are travel restrictions in place for your area and you can visit and stay in each other’s houses.

Who can make an extended household

You can form an extended household with another household of any size if you:

  • live by yourself
  • are a single parent
  • are part of a couple who lives apart – including any children you each live with

You must not form an extended household with more than one other household.

If you share custody of a child with someone you do not live with

If you share custody of a child with someone you do not live with, the child can move freely between both parents’ households. You do not need to form an extended household to do this

Things to think about before forming an extended household

Forming an extended household is an important decision that should be properly discussed and agreed beforehand.

All the adults living in both households should agree to form the extended household. You should also try to involve children in these discussions.

If someone in your extended household develops coronavirus symptoms or tests positive

If anyone in your extended household develops symptoms of coronavirus all members must isolate immediately if they were in close contact with the symptomatic person between 2  days before and 10 days after their symptoms started.

If the person with symptoms tests negative, and nobody else in the household is experiencing symptoms or has been advised they need to isolate having been in close contact with a positive case, they no longer need to self-isolate.

If the person tests positive:

  • all members of the person’s direct household (the people they live in the same house  with) must isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms
  • if a member of the household who wasn’t symptomatic develops symptoms, they need to arrange to get tested immediately and stay at home while awaiting further advice. The rest of the household can leave their self-isolation once they have completed their 10 day period
  • any extended household members must isolate for 10 days from when the most recent contact took place
  • if an extended household member develops symptoms, they need to arrange to get tested and the people they live with will need to self-isolate immediately until the test result and further advice have been received

Read more: Test and Protect: self-solation guidance

Changing or ending an extended household

Extended households can end the arrangement at any time, but you should not form an extended household with a new household for at least 14 days.