Ask a COVID-19 Question
The information on this page was correct as of January 19, 2021 at 16:00 GMT.
On December 28, an Order requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test for all air passengers arriving from the UK to the US came into effect. To read the full order, please go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for “Testing Requirements for Arriving UK Air Travelers”. In addition, the order also requires a passenger attestation stating they have received a negative Qualifying Test result (this is not in place of a test).
All travelers must be tested no more than 3 days (72 hours) before their flight to the US from the UK departs.
The test must be a viral test (NAAT or antigen test) to determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19. Travelers should avoid the antibody tests which look for prior infection.
Test results should state any/all of the following:
- Sars-CoV-2-RNA Not Detected, and/or
- SARS-CoV2 Antigen Not Detected.
Test results and the Attestation are required prior to boarding and must be shown to your airline. The Attestation may be found at the CDC website “Passenger Attestation Form” (PDF). For additional questions, please see the CDC FAQ site.
Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel regardless of where they are traveling from. Alternatively, travelers to the United States may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel. Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions.
U.S. State Department – Level 3: Reconsider travel to the United Kingdom due to COVID-19 and exercise increased caution due to terrorism
On December 28, the CDC issued a Level 4 (Very High) Travel Health Notice for the United Kingdom due to COVID-19. For information on what you can do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19, please see the CDC’s latest recommendations.
If you are planning on traveling to the United States, it is important that you check quarantine regulations for the state you are visiting before you depart. You can find the most-up to date information on the CDC website and your state’s health department website. Please note you will still be required to quarantine as required by CDC and local guidelines even if you are an automatic exception to the current Presidential Proclamations or have received a national interest exception in order to travel directly to the United States.
For the latest information and advice for travel to the United Kingdom with regards to COVID-19, please visit the U.K. Government’s webpage on Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice.
UK COVID-19 Restrictions
The UK response to COVID is updated frequently as the government monitors the situation. For the latest information, please go to the below websites.
- For England, visit: National Lockdown: Stay at Home from January 5
- For Northern Ireland, visit: New restrictions from December 26
- For Scotland, visit: National Lockdown from January 5
- For Wales, visit: Alert Level 4
U.S. citizens in the United Kingdom are subject to the ‘Stay at Home’ regulations. You should not travel abroad unless it is permitted under the rules. This means you may not go on holiday.
If you are visiting the UK, you may return home to the United States. You should check whether there are any restrictions in place at your final destination. Please consult directly with your airline and follow all UK government guidelines when making travel arrangements.
All travelers 11 years and older must wear face covering on public transport and on aircrafts. Passengers using taxis and private hire vehicles should also use a face covering for the duration of their journey. Drivers may refuse to transport passengers who do not follow guidance for safe travel. Different regulations exist in different parts of the UK, for complete details, visit: Face coverings: when to wear one and exemptions.
- Are PCR and/or antigen tests available for U.S. citizens in the United Kingdom? Yes
- Are test results reliably available within 72 hours? Yes
Please see https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
If you are not a part of the NHS, you will need to seek a private clinic for testing. Testing may cost anywhere from £40 – £500 depending on where you are tested and the type of test you take. COVID-19 tests differ in the amount of time they take to get results (from 45 minutes to 48 hours).
For testing at Heathrow, please visit the Heathrow Airport COVID-19 testing site. DO NOT travel to Heathrow Airport if you are showing any symptoms of COVID-19 or are feeling unwell.
Some local laboratories are (this is not an exhaustive list of every facility performing COVID tests in the UK):
- Concepto Clinic
- Corona Test Center
- The London Clinic
- The London General Practice
- Private Coronavirus Tests
- The Private Harley Street Clinic
- TDL Pathology
In Scotland, private testing is available at a number of facilities.
In Northern Ireland, please visit the Public Health website for more information on testing sites.
The inclusion of a specific company or organization does not constitute a recommendation, and the Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability, reputation, or quality of services provided by the companies or organizations whose names appear on such lists.
COVID-19 Vaccine Information
- Has the government of the United Kingdom approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use? Yes
The United States Government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas. Please follow the United Kingdom’s developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination.
If you qualify for NHS treatment, please see here for more information including links to vaccination procedures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Please see the UK government website for frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK. The COVID-19 vaccination is only available through the NHS to eligible groups and it is a free vaccination. It is not available privately in the UK.
Public Health Locator Form
New arrivals will be required to provide UK officials with contact and travel information prior to arrival by completing the Public Health Locator Form. This form must be completed by each member of your traveling party. You may not submit the form until 48 hours before your arrival in the UK.
- Is a curfew in place? No
- Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? Yes
Travel in and out of your local area is to be avoided. For information about when travel is permissible please see the websites for England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland above under UK COVID-19 restrictions for regional variations.
- Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? Yes
Mandatory 10-Day Self-Isolation for Arrivals to the UK
Individuals arriving in the UK may need to self-isolate. As the rules are constantly being updated, please see the UK government’s website for the latest information.
(Note that these rules apply to England only)
If you arrive in England from anywhere outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man you will need to self-isolate for 10 days.
For Northern Ireland
(Note that these rules apply to Northern Ireland only)
You must self-isolate for 10 days if you return to Northern Ireland from a country outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) unless you are travelling from, or transiting through, a low to medium risk country that is exempt. You do not need to self-isolate if you’re travelling to NI from within the CTA. For the latest information visit: Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel advice (GOV.UK).
(Note that these rules apply to Scotland only)
Passengers arriving to Scotland by air, land, or sea from outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) are required to self-isolate for 10 days. For the latest information visit: Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and quarantine (GOV.SCOT).
(Note that these rules apply to Wales only)
Passengers arriving to Wales by air, land, or sea from outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) are required to self-isolate for 10 days. For the latest information, visit: Travel: coronavirus (GOV.WALES).
For Transiting Travelers
Persons transiting (or who have a layover in) the UK and are in the UK for less than 24 hours are not required to take a COVID-19 test to meet the new U.S. testing requirement.
Any travelers who pass through UK border control and leave the “airside” portion of the airport may be required to take a test even if they are only “transiting” the UK. Travelers should not pass through UK border control if they do not want to be required to take a COVID-19 test.
If transiting with onward travel outside of the UK and not passing through UK border control, you are also exempt from self-isolation requirements. If transiting but passing through UK border control and entering the UK, you may travel directly between ports (such as Eurostar to Heathrow) without self-isolating.
You may end self-isolation to go to your departure point (airport, train or bus station), if you are leaving within the 10-day quarantine time. You should travel straight to the departure point and avoid public transportation.
All transiting persons will still be required to fill out the Public Health Passenger Locator Form.
- Are commercial flights operating? Yes
- Is public transportation operating? Yes
Commercial Flights Available from UK to USA
U.S. citizens in the UK who wish to return to the United States should make commercial flight arrangements as they need to travel.
Commercial flights continue to be available from multiple UK airports connecting to London Heathrow for direct flights to the United States. Trains from Scotland to London are also available. Please check the airport and rail websites for the latest information.
Please see above for new COVID-19 testing requirements.
Services at Airports and Hotels
Onward tickets should be purchased prior to traveling to the UK as ticketing counters may not accept cash. Please see individual airport and hotel websites for further information.
At the Airport(s)
- DO NOT travel if you are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature, persistent cough, loss of taste or smell).
- CHECK the status of your flight with your airline as some schedules are still subject to change.
- ONLY TRAVEL to the airport if you have a flight booked. Only those people who are flying will be allowed inside the terminal building.
- PACK a suitable face covering, as this will be required at all times inside the airport.
- ONLY limited “essential” shops and restaurants are open in most airports. See individual websites for the latest information.
If symptomatic at an airport
- If a traveler is denied boarding because of potential COVID-19 symptoms, they might be directed to an airport self-isolation room while the traveler arranges their own transport to quarantine accommodations.
- Travelers exhibiting symptoms are required to find a location for self-isolation and quarantine.
On Arrival At Heathrow
Terminals: All flights at Heathrow are now operating from Terminals 2 and 5 following the temporary relocation of airlines from Terminals 3 and 4. All passengers should double-check their arrival and departure terminals, as they may change. Please check www.heathrow.com/whichterminal for more information.
Screening: Enhanced monitoring is in place for all flights. This includes the provision of advice leaflets, social distancing measures, increased hand sanitiser units, complimentary face coverings required for all passengers and colleagues, having Public Health England (PHE) colleagues and doctors on site, and trialing temperature screening in terminals.
COVID-19 Testing: See: https://www.heathrow.com/at-the-airport/fly-safe/covid-19-test
Social distancing: Do not come into the terminals at Heathrow unless you are traveling. It is important that passengers who do come into the terminals for essential travel adhere to the UK Government’s social distancing guidelines. All passengers aged 11 and older are required to wear face coverings at all time within terminal buildings. There is no guarantee a mask will be available on arrival, please come prepared with your own face covering.. See: www.heathrow.com/coronavirus
Shops and Restaurants: Open, see airport website for more information and times.
Departing passengers: It is not necessary to arrive at the airport early. Please arrive at the airport 2 hours before a European flight and 3 hours before a long-haul flight. Bring your own face coverings.
Airport Transit: Many local travel partners continue to operate services to and from Heathrow. See transport operator contact details here: https://www.heathrow.com/transport-and-directions/operator-contacts
More information: https://www.heathrow.com/
On Arrival At Gatwick
Terminals: The North Terminal is open for flight arrivals and departures. Passengers should check which terminal their flight is departing from, as airlines may operate from a different terminal. All passengers should keep in contact with their airline for the latest information.
Screening: Currently there are no permanent temperature checks at Gatwick.
COVID-19 Testing: See: https://www.gatwickairport.com/at-the-airport/coronavirus/covid-testing/
Social distancing: Persons aged 11 and older are required to wear a face covering while traveling through Gatwick. Signs have been installed to remind passengers to maintain social distancing and respect others around them as they travel through the airport. In addition, only family groups or people travelling in the same party can travel in lifts together, and some may also restrict the number of people at any one time. Staircases will also be segregated and designated either for up or down travel. https://www.gatwickairport.com/at-the-airport/passenger-services/coronavirus/
Shops and Restaurants: Reduced offerings. See airport website for more information and times.
Airport Transit: Gatwick Express services are suspended until further notice. Southern and Thameslink rail services are still running to and from Gatwick with reduced schedules as are coaches and other public transportation: https://www.gatwickairport.com/to-and-from/
More Information: https://www.gatwickairport.com/
On Arrival At Luton
Screening: There are enhanced monitoring procedures for flights arriving from affected countries and displays with the latest public health information across the terminal.
COVID-19 Testing: https://www.london-luton.co.uk/testing
Social Distancing: Persons aged 11 and older are required to wear face coverings while in the airport. Face coverings should be removed if requested by police, border control or airport security. https://www.london-luton.co.uk/safer-travel
Shops and Restaurants: Reduced offerings. See airport website for more information and times.
Airport Transit: Reduced bus and rail services available to and from the airport. https://www.london-luton.co.uk/to-and-from-lla
More information: https://www.london-luton.co.uk/
On Arrival At Stansted
Terminals: Open, but flights are subject to change and cancellation. Currently, there is no overnight access to the terminal building. The building does not open until 0500.
Screening: Enhanced monitoring procedures for flights are in place along with information leaflets and posters. Temperature screening trials are being undertaken to test equipment.
COVID-19 Testing: https://www.stanstedairport.com/coronavirus/testing/
Social distancing: Persons travelling through the airport are required to cover their faces and wear gloves. Passengers are encouraged to bring their own gloves and face coverings/masks. https://www.stanstedairport.com/coronavirus/
Airport Transit: Available, see: https://www.stanstedairport.com/getting-to-and-from/
More information: https://www.stanstedairport.com/
On Arrival At London City
Terminals: London City Airport has resumed domestic routes and is providing connections to cities and regions around the United Kingdom.
Screening: A range of screening measures are in place including non-contact, automatic temperature checking technology for rapid preliminary screening both on passenger departure and arrival.
COVID-19 Testing: https://www.londoncityairport.com/test
Social Distancing: Passengers are asked to observe social distancing rules wherever possible in the terminal and the airport will deploy measures which will enable the detection of areas where there is a high concentration of passengers who will then be directed to quieter areas. https://www.londoncityairport.com/safe-careful-speedy-journeys
Airport Transit: Given the disruption caused by coronavirus, London City Airport recommends all passengers check the status and schedule for their preferred mode of transport before they travel. More transit information: https://www.londoncityairport.com/getting-here/DLR
More information: https://www.londoncityairport.com/
Car and Rideshare Services: The following companies are still operating and may be able to provide airport transfer service.
If Travel Plans Have Been Cancelled
The Embassy is unable to assist with obtaining refunds for travel that has been cancelled. We recommend you contact the company or website from which you purchased your tickets or with whom you have reservations. You may also wish to contact your credit card company for their assistance.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission provides information on its website that directly addresses COVID-19 related travel at COVID-19 ruined my travel plans. Now what?
The U.S. Department of Transportation has mandated airlines to refund passengers in the event flights are canceled, significant schedule changes or made, or government restrictions prevent flying due to the coronavirus outbreak. More information is available at the U.S. Department of Transportation Refunds page.
For more information about rules and regulations about refunds for travel, we recommend you visit the below sites:
- In the United Kingdom, visit https://www.gov.uk/
- For the European Union, visit https://ec.europa.eu/
Fines for Non-Compliance
Fines for not following rules on meeting in larger groups range from £100 for the first offence up to £10,000.
Fines for failing to comply with rules for face-coverings range from £100 for the first offence up to £6,400.
- You may be denied UK entry or fined £100 if you refuse to provide your contact details and £10,000 if you refuse to self-isolate, or you may face further action. For complete details on UK guidelines, visit: https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control
For Northern Ireland
- If you refuse to provide passenger information you may be fined £60. If you are required to self-isolate and leave self-isolation within the 10-day period you may be fined £1,000. For complete details, visit: Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel advice (NIDIRECT.GOV.UK).
- UK Border Force will carry out spot checks at the border and can impose a fine of £60 to those who refuse to provide passenger information. Those who fail to self-isolate can be fined £480. For complete details, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) (via GOV.SCOT.UK).
- You may be denied UK entry or fined £1,920 if you refuse to provide your contact details and £10,000 if you refuse to self-isolate, or you may face further action. For complete details on guidelines for Wales, visit: https://gov.wales/coronavirus
The U.S. Mission to the United Kingdom has suspended routine consular services. For emergency American Citizens Services, including emergency passports, please visit our Information for American Citizens page for important information.
We will continue to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services as resources and local conditions allow. Visa appointments remain limited. Due to the impact of COVID-19, visa services and travel restrictions may change rapidly so please check this website regularly. Please see our U.S. Visa and Travel FAQs for the most up to date information.
For the latest information with regards to COVID-19, please visit the UK government’s webpage on Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice.
To find out more on what you can and can’t in the UK, please visit the UK government’s webpage on Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do.
View U.S. Embassy London’s Most Recent Alerts.
- Resources for Staying at Home During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- UK Government Gateway
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response
- NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) page
U.S. Centers For Disease Control Resources
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Current Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019
- Department of State InfoCentral Coronavirus page
- Department of State COVID-19 Traveler Information page
- How To Self-Isolate(via GOV.UK)
- State.gov – UK Country Information and Travel Advisory page for the UK
- U.S. Embassy London (this website)
- White House Corovirus Website
The Department of State encourages all U.S. citizens to enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security and health updates. Visit travel.state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security.
U.S. Consulate General Edinburgh
+44 (0) 131 556-8315
U.S. Consulate General Belfast
+44 (0) 28 9038-6100
State Department – Consular Affairs
888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
United Kingdom Country Information page.