Navigating the new normal

5 top tips for navigating the UK’s new ‘quarantine’ rules


All content on this page is correct as of June 9, 2020

As of yesterday, 8 June, most travellers arriving in the UK are required to provide contact information before travelling and self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. Below are our top tips for navigating these new rules, for those travelling to the UK and those supporting employees or others to come to the UK.

  • Work out if the rules apply

Whilst the rules apply to most travellers, there are some notable exemptions. Travellers arriving from the Common Travel Area or “CTA” (i.e. Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) will not be subject to these requirements, except if they have only entered the CTA within the last 14 days. This means that transiting through Ireland, for example, will not save you from being subject to these rules. If you entered the CTA within the last 14 days you will only have to self-isolate until you have spent a total of 14 days in the CTA.

Another notable exemption is for those who live in the UK but work in another country and travel between the UK and country of work at least once a week, or vice-versa (i.e. they live outside the UK but work in the UK and travel here at least once a week). If this applies to you, you will need to complete the passenger locator form before travelling to the UK but will not need to self-isolate if you are staying in England, Wales or Northern Ireland (but you will have to do so if you are staying in Scotland).

Others who are exempt include diplomats; those with specialist skills involved in key areas of infrastructure; some healthcare professionals; seasonal agricultural workers; and drivers of goods vehicles (amongst others). Some individuals are required to complete the passenger locator form but not to self-isolate, and others are exempt from completing the form as well as from self-isolating.

  • If an exemption applies, think about the evidence to show this

The list of exemptions sets out the evidence required under each ‘category’ of exemption. If you are arriving from the CTA, you should show details of any recent travel there, such as a boarding pass or flight confirmation. If you live in the CTA, we recommend you carry a proof of address with you.

For those who travel between the UK and another country at least once a week for work, you will need to show evidence that you reside in one country but work in the other, and should also demonstrate that you travel between the two on at least a weekly basis. The government guidance suggests using a season ticket to show this but many individuals will not have one. We recommend taking a proof of address as well as a letter from your employer or other confirmation of your employment (such as your employment contract), and evidence of frequent travel such as boarding passes or flight booking confirmations.

  • Plan ahead

You will need to complete a ‘passenger locator form’ ahead of travelling to the UK, and can do so from 48 hours before you are due to arrive here. To complete the form you will need details of your planned travel as well as the address you’ll be staying at for your first 14 days in the UK, and details of someone who can be contacted if you get ill while you’re here. You should therefore consider in advance where you will self-isolate on arrival.  

You will need to show the completed form at the border, either on your phone or as a printed copy. You could be fined up to £100 if you refuse to provide your contact information and if you are neither British nor a UK resident, you could be refused entry to the UK. All travellers must complete their own form, with the exception of children under 18 who will be travelling and staying with an accompanying adult throughout the period of self-isolation.

You should go straight to the place where you will be self-isolating on arrival in the UK and also consider in advance how you will travel there. You should only use public transport if you have no other option. There is further guidance available about travelling to the place you will self-isolate available here.

  • Know the rules

Once you arrive in the UK you must self-isolate in your specified accommodation for 14 days. There are only limited circumstances in which you are allowed to leave the accommodation such as for urgent medical assistance; to access basic necessities where you cannot get these delivered; or to access to critical services. Detailed guidance about how to self-isolate is available here.

In England if you do not self-isolate you can be fined £1,000 and if you do not provide an accurate declaration of your contact details, or do not update this in the limited circumstances in which you can move to self-isolate in another place, you can be fined up to £3,200.

  • Keep an eye out for changes

These arrangements will be reviewed every three weeks, with the first review due to take place on 29 June. The government has also said it is considering ‘international travel corridors’ with countries with low coronavirus infection rates, which could avoid the need for quarantine measures. Depending on when you plan to travel, you should therefore keep an eye out for potential changes to these rules.

Information about the rules is also available on our FAQ page and you can also contact our immigration team for advice about your particular situation.


This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of June 9, 2020.

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