COVID-19: travelling overseas and quarantine

Advice for doctors planning to travel to or from countries that are considered a COVID-19 risk. 

Location: England
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Tuesday 10 August 2021
COVID virus illustration

Guidance for people travelling overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be fluid to respond to the continued efforts to tackle the spread of the virus.

You can read general travel advice from GOV.UK.

Everyone is required to provide their journey and contact details when they travel/return to the UK.

The Government has introduced a traffic light system, with all countries or territories being designated red, amber or green.

The rules for testing and quarantine when you arrive back in England depend on which countries or territories you have been in or travelled through in the 10 days before you arrive.

Read the advice on the traffic light requirements at GOV.UK.


If guidance to quarantine upon your return to the UK changes when you are away

If you are returning from a country where quarantine measures have been introduced or have changed while you are away (for example, if a country you are visiting changes traffic light category) you should contact your employer as soon as possible to discuss the possibility of working from home when you return.

If your employer suggests that alternative arrangements would not be possible and you are unable to come to mutual agreement over the arrangements for this period, then please contact the BMA for assistance in these discussions.


If you have planned to go to a location which is subject to the requirement of quarantine upon your return to the UK

Ahead of your departure, you should notify your employer that you are planning to visit an area which requires you to quarantine upon your return to the UK. This will allow you to agree in advance the arrangements for you to work from home when you return.

If it is not possible to arrange suitable alternative arrangements, then we would advise that you consider rearranging your planned trip.

If you would like support in your discussion with your employer, please contact the BMA.


If you are coming to the UK for the first time to work as an essential healthcare worker

Our advice is dependent on your individual circumstances and therefore, we would recommend you getting in touch with the BMA in advance of your departure.


Need help? For questions about any aspect of your working life, our advisers are here to help you. Opening times: 8am - 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am - 5pm on Saturdays.

Your salaried GP has been on leave in a location which requires them to quarantine upon their return

We encourage employers to explore all possible steps to allow their employees to work from home, when they return from a location that requires them to quarantine.

If this is not possible then we encourage you to discuss with your employee alternative arrangements and come to a mutual arrangement over how the quarantine period is managed.

Possible options include:

  • working from home where possible (including changing responsibilities which would allow this)
  • leave (including taking additional paid annual leave or unpaid leave)
  • making up the time at a later date.


If you live with someone who is required to quarantine as a result of them returning from a location which has a high prevalence of COVID-19

You do not need to quarantine unless the person you are living with develops any of the following symptoms in the 10 days after the day they arrive in the UK:

  • new continuous cough
  • high temperature
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

At this point the whole household will need to take a COVID test and you should contact your employer to discussion the possibility of working from home.

If you would like support in your discussions with your employer, please contact the BMA.

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