Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update

25 May 2021

Article: 55/2101

Travel restrictions and self-isolation (quarantine) rules continue to be enforced in order to help reduce the global spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of the UK public. Within the UK, coronavirus restrictions are gradually being lifted, with timetables having been published for their easing in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Travel is allowed within Scotland, with the exception of travel into or out of Glasgow City, the only local authority to currently be under Level 3 restrictions. As of 24 May 2021, travel from Scotland to Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, and Bolton in England is only allowed for permitted reasons, due to high levels of the B1.617.2 variant in these areas.

Since 17 May 2021, a cautious approach to resuming international travel has resumed for people living in Scotland, England and Wales. The government of Northern Ireland has announced its travel permissions, which came into effect on 24 May 2021.

Currently, anyone entering Scotland from countries on the new international travel green list will not be required to quarantine on arrival, but will have to take a PCR test for COVID-19. The green list is currently the same as that in place for England, but will be subject to review based on Scotland’s specific needs. It should be noted that this system does not indicate which countries are currently allowing UK travellers to enter their country.

Country specific COVID-19 risk

The fitfortravel (for the general public) and TRAVAX (for health professionals) country pages have been updated to include a COVID-19 country specific risk-rating, with every country being identified as high, moderate or low risk and each rating accompanied by appropriate travel advice. This information will be 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 is based on a robust public health assessment of the COVID-19 risks for travellers to each country and is regularly reviewed.

Since 18 May 2021, the COVID-19 risk to UK travellers has been increased for: 

  • Cambodia 
  • Fiji 
  • Sri Lanka 
  • Timor Leste (East Timor)

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. 

  • Each country or territory on the FCDO foreign travel advice page provides up-to-date information on their 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. For those living in Scotland and England, guidance for demonstrating COVID-19 vaccination status is available. For those living in Wales, the Welsh Government is working with the UK Government to allow access to the NHS app for vaccine certificates, but this service is not available yet. Information on demonstrating COVID-19 vaccination status has yet to be announced for 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 website.

On return to the UK, travellers should be aware that quarantine rules differ for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Prior to travel, travellers must ensure they are able to comply with the rules appropriate to the UK nation they will be arriving in and reside in, if different.

Source: TRAVAX, 13 May 2021