As international travel starts to pick up and UK visa application centres around the world begin to re-open, it is important those entering the UK understand the new UK quarantine rules.

There is now a mandatory 14 day self-isolation period for people entering the UK from other countries. This is a public health move designed to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus in the UK.

There are various exemptions to the new rules and the exemptions are different in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Quarantine exemptions in Scotland

From 10 July, those travelling from 50 countries such as Italy, Greece, France, Japan, Hong Kong and the Netherlands are exempt from the need to quarantine. Countries such as the USA, China, and India are not currently included on the list and anyone travelling from those countries will need to quarantine.

There are also a number of sector-based exemptions, which mean those carrying out certain roles are exempt from the quarantine rules.


These include a number of roles in the oil and gas sector for those workers required for the continued safe and secure operation, maintenance and essential support services for offshore oil and gas infrastructure in the UK. Some seamen are also exempt from the quarantine rules, as are foreign diplomats, some in the space sector and registered health or care service providers.

The full list of Scottish exemptions can be found here.

Quarantine exemptions in England

The list of countries exempt from quarantine in England is the same as Scotland, but also includes Spain and Serbia. A full list of the exempted countries can be found here.

The country exemptions go hand-in-hand with the sector and role-specific exemptions. These are largely the same as the Scottish list, but also includes 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. It also covers those who live outside the UK but work in the UK and travel between their country of residence and the UK at least once a week.

A full list with all of the sector and role exemptions can be found here.

Enforcement of quarantine in the UK

Before travelling to the UK, persons must provide their journey details, contact details and the address for their self-isolation. This is done through a passenger locator form which can be completed 48 hours before arrival in the UK.

Passengers will need to show they have completed the form when arriving at the UK border. Immigration officials are currently carrying out checks at airports and ports to ensure these forms have been properly completed.

If not completed, passengers can be fined £60 in Scotland and £100 in England. Entry to the UK may also be refused to those who are not already resident in the UK (or British citizens).

Those who are self-isolating must not leave their accommodation or have visitors (unless they are providing essential care). There are only very limited circumstances where leaving accommodation is permissible. Leaving for food and medicines is only permissible in exceptional circumstances where delivery of these cannot be arranged.

In Scotland, the £60 fine can be doubled for each subsequent offence which breaches the self-isolation measures and could impact the visa status or anyone is not a British national.

In England, failure to self-isolate can result in a fine of £1,000. If inaccurate contact details are provided in the declaration (or the contact detail form is not updated in the limited circumstances where there is a need to move from the accommodation where self-isolating to another place to continue self-isolating), the potential fine can be up to £3,200.

Advice on UK quarantine rules

The quarantine rules are new and relatively complex. It is important for anyone entering the UK to understand the rules and understand self-isolate / quarantine is required.

It is also important for businesses to think strategically about how the self-isolation periods might affect international travel to the UK.

Please get in touch if you have any queries on the new rules.