Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update

18 January 2022

Article: 56/202

International travel continues to be impacted due to COVID-19, and the number of variant strains which have emerged globally. Guidance on international travel is available for people living in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

On 15 December 2021, all countries were removed from the international travel red list, meaning travellers to the UK from countries previously on the list will no longer have to stay in hotel quarantine for ten days on arrival. Despite no countries remaining on the red list, the policy is continuing in Scotland and some managed quarantine capacity will stay in place in order to react to any change in assessment that would see a country added to the list.

It should be noted that the travel lists may be amended at short notice, and do not indicate which destinations are currently allowing UK travellers to enter their country, nor if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against travel to these countries. Information relating to this can be checked on the relevant FCDO foreign travel advice country pages.

From 7 January 2022, people travelling to Scotland from abroad who are fully vaccinated, or under the age of 18, will no longer need to take pre-departure COVID-19 tests, and will also no longer be required to self-isolate on arrival until they have received a negative result. Travellers in this group will still need to complete a passenger locator form (PLF) and take a lateral flow test within two days of arrival in the UK. Anyone who tests positive on their lateral flow test will need to isolate and take a free confirmatory PCR test.

Testing and quarantine rules may differ in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, therefore travellers must ensure they comply with the rules appropriate to the UK nation they will be arriving in and reside in, if different.

Country specific COVID-19 risk

The fitfortravel (for the general public) and TRAVAX (for health professionals) country pages include a COVID-19 country specific risk-rating, which identifies the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for UK travellers. This information is listed in the Alerts section on each country page of fitfortravel and the Emerging Health Risks section of every TRAVAX country page. This risk-rating identifies each country as having either: 

  • a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 for UK travellers, or 
  • a risk of exposure to COVID-19 for UK travellers

For all countries, travellers should be aware that the risk of COVID-19 may change at short notice. Countries categorised as having a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 either have a high risk of exposure for travellers to COVID-19, or a high risk of emerging or known variants of coronavirus. Travellers should be advised to avoid non-essential travel to high risk countries, even if fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

As of 7 January 2022, the following countries and territories continue to have a FCDO advisory warning against travel and have therefore been classified as having a high risk of exposure to COVID-19: 

  • Afghanistan 
  • Burundi 
  • Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) 
  • East Timor (Timor Leste) 
  • Guinea-Bissau 
  • Haiti 
  • Nicaragua 
  • Papua New Guinea 
  • Turkmenistan 
  • Venezuela 
  • Yemen

Advice for travellers

Prior to booking any international travel, travellers must first check if the country they are travelling to is currently accepting UK travellers. 

  • The FCDO foreign travel advice country pages have up-to-date information on entry rules, in response to coronavirus (COVID-19), under the Entry Requirements section.
  • Travellers should be aware that some countries or territories may require proof of COVID-19 vaccination status for entry. Guidance for demonstrating COVID-19 vaccination status is available for those living in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It is advised that travellers are aware of all travel restrictions, self-isolation rules and precautions they should take, in order to reduce their risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) before, during and after travel, as detailed on the fitfortravel COVID-19 health considerations for travel page.

Source: TRAVAX, 10 January 2022