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COVID-19: Updated Guidance on Travelling to the UK and Jobs that Qualify for Travel Exemptions

With the possible end of the current lockdown insight and with children having returned to school in the UK, we thought this would be an opportune moment to take stock of the latest COVID-19 travel guidance. Indeed, a great deal of progress has been made in bringing the pandemic in the UK under control, compared even to just a few weeks ago in January. Case rates, hospitalisations, and deaths attributed to the virus have all fallen substantially, almost back to levels seen in September 2020. Despite this substantial improvement in the overall situation, the government and Home Office are keen to pursue a policy of slowly reopening in stages, with gaps of five weeks between each. This will, hopefully, avoid the situation whereby too many restrictions are lifted simultaneously, leading to an uncontrolled explosion of cases. It is expected that the Winter will see a large rise in COVID-19 cases again, but due to the effectiveness of the vaccination programme (nearly 23 million people have received their first dose as of the time of writing), the death rate is likely to be broadly equivalent to that of the flu. In this article, we will look at the latest guidance for those planning to travel to the UK and explain which jobs are exempt from travel restrictions.

What Are The Current Travel Restrictions In Place For Those Arriving In The UK?

The current travel restrictions are conditional based on where you have been in the ten days prior to arriving in the UK, as follows:

If You Have Come From A Country On The ‘Red-List.’

If you not a British or Irish national or someone with the right of residence in the UK and you have come from or travelled through a country on the ‘red list’, then you will not be allowed to enter at present (if you do manage to travel to the UK, you will be refused entry by the border force and be required to return to your place of departure). The countries currently on the banned/red list are Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

British and Irish nationals and those with residence rights can come to the UK from a red-list country but must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for ten days. Those in this situation have to pay for the cost of their stay in the hotel. This is currently £1,750 for one adult in one room; an additional adult in the same room is £650 (this also applies to children over 12); the hotel room rate for children between 5 and 12 is £325. The government are making it clear that no one should attempt to avoid quarantine where it is required; the Home Office guidance states, “you could be fined up to £10,000, imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both if you do not provide accurate details about the countries you have visited in the ten days before you arrived in the UK. If you break the quarantine rules, you may face a penalty of up to £10,000”.

If You Come From A Country Not On The ‘Red-List.’

Travellers coming from countries, not on the red list are required to self-quarantine in the place they are staying. In addition, they are required to take two COVID-19 tests after their arrival in the UK (these must be booked prior to your travel to the UK). It is also possible for non-red-list travellers to pay for private COVID-19 tests to end their quarantine early – this is referred to as ‘Test and Release’. The official Home Office guidance on Test and Release states, “The earliest you can take a test is five days after you arrive in England. For example, if you arrive on a Monday, you can take a test from the following Saturday”. On this basis, as soon as you have a negative result after this mandatory five days, you are free to end your self-isolation. If the test is not conclusive, you will need to self-isolate for a further ten days. To use Test and Release, you will need to book an appointment with an approved private test provider and state on your passenger locator form that you intend to do so.

Which Jobs Are Eligible For COVID-19 Travel Exemptions In The UK?

Some people are not required to self-isolate in the UK due to the nature of their occupations, however, the restrictions which apply (or do not apply) vary by job type. The job types which are exempt from some or all travel restrictions to the UK are as follows:

  • Aerospace engineers
  • Aircraft pilots and crew
  • BBC broadcasting transmission network and services
  • Border security duties – UK officials and contractors
  • Border security duties – non-UK officials and contractors
  • Bus and coach drivers
  • Channel Tunnel system workers
  • Civil aviation inspectors
  • Clinical trials or studies
  • Crown servants or government contractors
  • Data infrastructure maintenance
  • Defence personnel, visiting forces and government contractors
  • Diplomatic missions, international organisations and conferences
  • Downstream oil facility workers
  • Drivers of goods vehicles
  • Electronic communications networks
  • Elite sportspersons – domestic
  • Elite sportspersons – international
  • Environment Agency relating to flood and coastal erosion risk management
  • Eurostar International workers
  • Eurotunnel workers
  • High Speed 2 rail workers
  • International prison escorts
  • IT and telecoms workers
  • Medical evacuation
  • Medical treatment
  • Urgent medical treatment
  • Medicines – human and veterinary
  • Network Rail workers
  • Nuclear personnel
  • Nuclear emergency responder
  • Offshore oil and gas
  • OPCW and IAEA inspectors
  • Postal workers
  • Quality assurance inspectors for human and veterinary medicines
  • Regular work abroad
  • Regular work in the UK, living abroad
  • Representatives of a foreign country or territory or British overseas territories
  • Seamen and masters and inspectors and surveyors of ships
  • Seasonal agricultural workers
  • Specialist technical workers – sub-sea telecommunications infrastructure
  • Specialist technical workers – goods and services
  • Specialist technical workers – waste
  • Specialist technical workers – power infrastructure
  • Specialist technical workers – space infrastructure
  • Transiting through the UK
  • Transporting human cells or blood
  • Water supplies and sewerage services workers

If your role fits into one of these categories, then it is important to look at the Home Office website for the guidance and restrictions which apply to you. This will explain what you will not need to do and specifically who the exemptions apply to. It is also possible for travellers in these occupations to travel to the UK from red-list countries, however, they will be required to quarantine for ten days in a government-approved hotel.

Final Words

The guidance on COVID-19 related travel restrictions is constantly changing. Indeed, the UK has been especially slow to put in place international travel restrictions and processes and procedures at the border, however, this is now more established. If you have any questions regarding travel to the UK, check the Home Office website or speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to advise you.


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O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

That alone shows what an amazing and talented team Reiss Edwards are. Thank you".

Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigration advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with Amar who has been very thorough in finding a solution to my enquiry, and followed up with additional information even after the consultation. I normally don't leave reviews, and this firm already has enough good reviews for me to need to my own anyways! However, in this instance, I do hope that my review can let anyone who reads it be aware that RE is a great choice, these people care enough to help you the best they can".

Zohaib Butt

"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija dealt with my case and I found her very professional and experienced in dealing with my application. The care and attention to detail was exceptional. I would definitely recommend Reiss Edwards!".

Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into steps that are easy to follow. Cruised to 3 successive wins on my Tier 1 graduate/entrepreneurship visa which allowed us to play our part in making the UK a better and healthier place!".

Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter and that of my family. It was an EX1 application. They dealt with the matter properly and even when complications were coming up from the Home Office, they helped resolve the issue properly. They are very professional and are very popular in London. I am happy to have worked with them".

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled our documentation and also the list of documents they sent was efficient and top quality. They helped us professionally throughout the process. We are very happy with the immigration advice we received from the team. We highly recommend them".

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration application. Both for my initial application and extension. They are really affordable. The team of solicitors at this firm are probably one of the most efficient and economical in terms of cost. They offered free advice over the phone and spent good time with us before inviting us for consultation".

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the application, I was not sure which law firm i should hire to facilitate the paperwork. After a few hours of research, i decided to go with Reiss Edwards and i must confess that I wasn't disappointed. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards handled my case well and they really knew what they were doing. They were fully aware of what documents I needed and it was easy for them to tell if my case was going to be easy or not. At the end of the day, I have not received my British citizenship within 3 months. If anyone is looking for a good immigration lawyer to handle their case, contact Reiss Edwards".

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is definitely not a routine decision. We had to make sure that the Tier 1 investor immigration lawyers that we'd be picking has to be one of the best within the Tier 1 investor category. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they were able to get us not only the Tier 1 investor visa but also suggested profitable investment portfolios in addition to what we already had in mind".

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service. I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice. They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards".

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a 20 minutes free immigration advice. I met with Amar to discuss my ILR refusal. He gave me a great deal of quality advice and decided to take on my messy case. I had doubts on the merits of my case by he was relatively convinced he could win it. That made me quite secure. To be honest, things did not start as quick as I would have wanted, but they kept on communicating the process and state of things to me.A big thank you to Verusha and Foram. They were also very helpful. Brilliant and informative. Their fee was fair and reasonable, especially if you compare them to other law firms and immigration law firms in London; some of whom even told me that i would not be able to get an indefinte leave to remain in this country. The process was long but was worth it. In the end, a big thank you to Reiss Edwards".

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused by the Home Office and they gave her 14 days to leave the country. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they said "OK don't worry we will sort this out". They put together the list of documents for me to obtain and they prepared a bundle which was as thick as the printer it came out from.We followed everything they asked us to do and in the end we won our appeal and got our spouse visa. We can't recommend them enough and we have promised ourselves never to make any more UK visa applications without them".

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

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