Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on travel and transport

Published: 9 Feb 2021
Last updated: 26 Apr 2021 - see all updates

Guidance on travel rules and restrictions and protection levels, including information on essential travel.

9 Feb 2021
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on travel and transport

From 26 April, Scottish Coronavirus regulations permit unrestricted travel within Scotland and between Scotland and England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man.  Travel restrictions remain in place for travel between Scotland and the rest of the world.

These rules may be changed depending on the state of the pandemic in Scotland and in other countries.  Please check back here for up to date information before you travel.

For detailed guidance and rules  please see the relevant section below:

Travelling around Scotland

From 26 April, Scotland is treated as a single area at protection Level 3.  As a result there are no restrictions on travel within Scotland, but other rules and guidance are in place that may affect your travel plans.  For example, you can stay overnight away from home, for example in self-catered accommodation, in a hotel or a B&B, but only with members of your own household or extended household. You cannot stay overnight with family or friends in a private house unless they are part of your extended household. 

The rules on travel may be changed depending on the state of the pandemic.  Please check back here for up to date information before you travel

See also:

Travelling to the Scottish islands: pre-departure testing

To reduce the risk of coronavirus being brought into island communities by people who are unaware they are infectious, we are encouraging anyone planning to travel to a Scottish island to test before they do so.  You can order rapid lateral flow tests for delivery to your home anywhere in the UK and they should arrive within 24-48 hours.  We recommend that you test three days before you plan to travel and then again on the day of departure.  If you test positive, you should complete your period of self-isolation before you begin your journey.   

Please note that if your test result is negative, this is not a guarantee that you do not have coronavirus.  You must continue to follow national and local restrictions, including FACTS guidance.  If you develop coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate and book a PCR test.

This is a voluntary scheme and you will not need evidence of a negative test to travel to a Scottish island.  However, we would encourage you to participate in order to reduce the risk that you inadvertently carry coronavirus into one of our island communities.

Travelling within the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man

From 26 April, Scottish regulations  allow unrestricted travel between Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.  You should check those destinations’ own rules on entry and local restrictions before you travel (see links below). 

The Scottish rules may be changed depending on the state of the pandemic in Scotland and in other countries.  Please check back here for up to date information before you travel

Travel between Scotland and the Republic of Ireland 

Under Scottish regulations, restrictions remain in place on travel to and from the Republic of Ireland, but will be kept under review.  Those restrictions require you to have a reasonable excuse for travel, for example for work or education.  There is a detailed list of examples of reasonable excuses in the regulations.  Going on holiday is not a reasonable excuse for travel.

These rules may be changed depending on the state of the pandemic.  Please check back here for up to date information before you travel.

You should also check the Republic of Ireland’s own rules on entry and local restrictions before you travel 

International travel (outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man)

International travel to or from Scotland (other than to and from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) without a reasonable excuse is prohibited by law.

See reasonable excuses.  

Holidays – either from or to Scotland – are not a legal reason to travel.

Even where travel is allowed, you should still avoid travelling abroad if possible.

If you are coming to Scotland it is likely that you will need to isolate in a hotel or at home in Scotland for at least 10 days after you arrive.  Travellers, by law, must have proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test before travelling to Scotland from abroad.

More information on testing for people travelling to Scotland and quarantine is in the international travel guidance.

The situation continues to evolve worldwide, so it is important that you check all guidance before you travel.

Travelling safely 

Transport Scotland has produced guidance on travelling safely in all forms of transport

Where possible you should consider walking, wheeling or cycling, if you can, to reduce pressure on the road network and on public transport where capacity will be limited.

Public transport

Transport providers will have procedures to promote the safety of customers and staff, but it is an individual’s responsibility to comply with guidance.  

On public transport you must by law wear a face covering, unless you are exempt, and comply with the physical distancing measures that are in place. Find out more about face coverings

Car and vehicle sharing

You should not share a vehicle with anyone from another household, unless you absolutely have to.  It is recognised that people with additional support needs may need to car share and in these circumstances, they should also follow the appropriate measures, steps and precautions where possible.

If you absolutely have to share a car journey with anyone from another household, you should take the following steps and precautions:

  • if sharing a vehicle with anyone from another household, limit the number of people in the vehicle to as few as possible, ideally no more than 2 (applies to adults and children aged 12 and over)
  • use the biggest vehicle available for car sharing purposes
  • occupants should sit as far apart as possible.  Ideally a passenger should sit in the back seat diagonally opposite the driver, aiming for 2 metre distancing between occupants
  • windows in the car should be opened as far as possible taking account of weather conditions to improve ventilation in the space
  • occupants in the car, including the driver, should wear a face covering provided it does not compromise driver safety in any way
  • occupants should perform hand hygiene before entering the vehicle and again on leaving the vehicle
  • occupants should avoid eating in the vehicle
  • passengers in the vehicle should minimise any surfaces touched
  • keep the volume of any music/radio to a minimum to prevent the need to raise voices in the car
  • the longer the journey, the higher the risk; keep journey times to the minimum feasible and do not linger in the vehicle before or after the journey itself
  • where non-household members are car-sharing, the car must be cleaned regularly (at least daily) and particular attention should be paid to high risk touch points such as door handles, electronic buttons and seat belts.  General purpose detergent is sufficient unless a symptomatic or confirmed case of COVID-19 has been in the vehicle in which case a disinfectant (e.g. chlorine-based product) should be used

You should not travel to work/car share if you have any symptoms of coronavirus, as outlined on the NHS Inform website. 

Note the above guidance relates to private vehicles. For taxis and private hire vehicles you should refer to guidance on taxis and private hire vehicles.

If you are travelling in a vehicle as part of your job or business, safe operation of workplaces applies, therefore please refer to your employer. For employers, you may wish to refer to guidance for safer workplaces.

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, all passengers will be assessed for close contact and are likely to be advised to self-isolate.

For further information please visit our advice on how to travel safely.

First published: 9 Feb 2021 Last updated: 26 Apr 2021 -