Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel and transport

Published: 27 Aug 2021
Last updated: 27 Aug 2021 - see all updates

Guidance on travel rules and restrictions.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel and transport
General travel

General travel

Travel is allowed within Scotland.

Travel is allowed between Scotland and England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

For restrictions on travel between Scotland and the rest of the world see the international travel section below.

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.

Travelling to the Scottish islands: pre-departure testing

To reduce the risk of coronavirus being brought into island communities, 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. 

You should 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. 

If your test result is negative it is not a guarantee that you do not have coronavirus. You must continue to follow national and local restrictions, including coronavirus 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 encourage you to participate in order to reduce the risk that you inadvertently carry coronavirus into one of our island communities.

Travelling within the Common Travel Area (UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland)

A Common Travel Area (CTA) exists between the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland. 

Travel within the UK, and to the Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, is not counted as international travel. This means that you do not need to test, isolate or fill in a passenger locator form if:

  • you’re travelling to Scotland from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey
  • you have not travelled anywhere other than these areas in the 10 days before you arrive in Scotland

Your plans may still be affected if the area you’re travelling to or from has local restrictions in place. You should check those countries’ own rules on entry and other restrictions before you travel. 

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

We have introduced a risk assessment for international travel similar to the UK Government’s ‘traffic light’ system. This entails the following requirements for both residents of Scotland on their return and overseas visitors:

  • arrivals from red list countries will be required to enter a managed isolation hotel and stay there for 10 days. Travel to such countries should only be for essential reasons
  • arrivals from amber list countries, which will be the majority of countries, should self-isolate at home [or if a visitor from another country, their accommodation on arrival] for 10 days, and take two PCR tests while they are isolating
  • arrivals from green list countries will not be required to quarantine or isolate on arrival in Scotland, but will need to take a PCR test shortly after arrival

Fully-vaccinated residents of some countries travelling from amber list countries may not have to isolate. Further information on this process, and details of the countries on each list, is available in our international travel guidance.

Travelling safely 

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

You can help keep Scotland moving by:

  • reducing the need to travel: work from home or near home if you can
  • planning ahead: if you need to make a journey, check your travel options in advance
  • choosing active travel: walk, wheel or cycle where possible

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

If you need to share a vehicle with anyone from another household, you should continue to follow the appropriate measures, steps and precautions where possible:

  • 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
  • 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 pending the outcome of a PCR test.

If you are a partially or non-vaccinated adult, you will be asked to self-isolate for 10 days, whether or not you have symptoms.

If you are a fully vaccinated adult, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible. Provided you return a negative PCR test result and remain asymptomatic, you may end self-isolation as a close contact.

Fully vaccinated means you have received both of your vaccine doses, with at least two weeks passing since your second dose. This gives you the maximum possible protection from the vaccination.

If you are younger than 18 years and 4 months or medically unable to be vaccinated, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible. Provided you return a negative PCR test result and remain asymptomatic, you may end self-isolation as a close contact. However, children under 5 years will be encouraged but not required to take a PCR test. 18 years and 4 months is the age specified to allow 4 months for individuals who turn 18 time to get fully vaccinated.

If you return a positive test result, you will still need to isolate for 10 days.

Staying safe if you've ended self-isolation

Even if you’re fully vaccinated, you can still get coronavirus and pass it on to others.

If you’re a close contact who can end self-isolation, you can help protect others by following our guidance on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread.

As well as getting a PCR test, you may also consider:

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

First published: 27 Aug 2021 Last updated: 27 Aug 2021 -