How to travel to the UK safely this academic year – 2021

How to travel to the UK safely during Covid-19

This article was updated by the Great British Mag editorial team on 8 March 2021.

Travelling to the UK to start your studies in Sept 2021, will be unlike any other year, due to the strict rules you will have to follow due to Covid-19.  In this article we explain what they are and how best to navigate them. 

GB Mag Survival Service creative - 2021

Do your research

Be aware that the rules vary in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England and you should familiarise yourself with the local rules as well as any national restrictions, the best way to do this is to get the most up to date information from the UK Government website.

Understand the Traffic light system

The UK is operating a ‘traffic light’ system which means countries are assigned the following colours depending on their risk:

  • Red  – country is  high risk
  • Amber – country is moderate risk
  • Green – country is low risk

In a nutshell you will need to quarantine in a hotel if you are coming from a red listed country. If you are coming from an amber listed country and are not vaccinated with an approved vaccine you will need to self-isolate at home. If you are coming from a green listed country or an amber listed country but have been vaccinated, with an approved vaccine, then you don’t need to self isolate provided you have a negative Covid-19 test result after arriving in the UK.

How to get to your accommodation safely

If you have to self -isolate you must travel straight to the place you will be self-isolating and if possible avoid public transport. If you have to use public transport wear a face mask (unless you are exempt for health reasons) and stay 2 metres apart from other people.

If you have a long onward journey from the airport to your accommodation, you can stop overnight in accommodation that allows you to self-isolate, such as a hotel. If you do stay in a hotel then you need to add this onto the passenger locator form and you will need to check that your stopover is permitted under the local restrictions.

How to self-isolate correctly

You should self-isolate in one place for the full self-isolation period and it must be the address you put on the passenger locator form. You should not socialise with people you are living with and not leave the property for any reason, including buying food, for exercise or to walk a dog.

If you do not have anyone that can help you. Contact the NHS Volunteer Responders on 0808 196 3646, between 8am to 8pm. They will be able to help you with things like food shopping, picking up medication or taking your dog for a walk.

What to do if you develop symptoms of Covid-19 after arriving in the UK

If you develop symptoms after arriving in the UK get tested as soon as possible. You might be able to get a test posted to you, through your university or by visiting a test centre free of charge.

If the test is positive you will need to self-isolate for 10 days and follow all instructions given to you and inform your university as well as people you have been in contact with. You may also be contacted by the National Health Service (NHS) who will want to know who you have been in contact with and ask you about your symptoms.

What can happen if you do not self-isolate

Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England all have different rules. For example in England if you do not self-isolate, you can receive a fixed penalty notice of £1,000 for a first offence, £2,000 for a second offence, £4,000 for a third offence and then £10,000 for each repeat offence.

You can also be fined up to £3,200 if you move from the accommodation where you’re self-isolating to another place to continue self-isolating and do not update your passenger contact form.

You many also want to read

Which Covid-19 tests do airlines accept

Moving to the UK checklist 

How to access free healthcare in the UK