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International travel to and from University

International travel advice

What to do when you’re returning to the UK


Additional information for international travel

  • The University asymptomatic testing programme is not appropriate to fulfil the legal requirement for travel testing
  • It is a student’s responsibility to arrange and pay for their travel test package and quarantine accommodation
  • A day 5 Test to Release test can only be used by travellers who have travelled from non-red list countries and after a day 2 negative test result has been received
  • Before you travel to the UK you must take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test, and get a negative result within 3 days of travel date
  • You are required to complete a passenger locator form, detailing where you will quarantine upon arrival
  • It is your responsibility to pre-book and pay for a travel test package, which will include COVID-19 tests to be taken on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of quarantine. Testing provided by universities will not cover this. Students must pre-book the travel test package. If you do not take the day 2 and day 8 tests, you could face a fine of £2000
  • Be aware that travel advice may change, so regularly check all relevant guidance pages for the latest updates prior to travelling
  • You must quarantine for 10 days on arrival and you should pre-book/pre-arrange your accommodation accordingly:
  • Be ready to present proof of study documents on arrival to the UK
  • Speak to your travel insurer to understand the implications of changing travel date(s)
  • You have a legal duty to quarantine on your return to the UK and you may receive a public health self-isolation compliance check. If you break quarantine rules you may face a penalty of up to £10,000

Test to Release scheme

  • You may be able to end your quarantine early through the optional Test to Release scheme if you pay for a private coronavirus (COVID-19) test
  • You must still take the day 2 and day 8 tests you booked before you travelled and must have been in the UK for a full 5 days before the Test to Release test
  • A day 5 Test to Release test can only be used by travellers who have travelled from non-red list countries and after a day 2 negative test result has been received
  • You can book a day 5 Test to Release test via the Rapid Response Hub, the test must be booked before travelling and will need to be recorded on your passenger locator form
  • You must continue to quarantine until a day 5 negative test is received

Frequently asked questions

See below our frequently asked questions on travelling to our campuses from overseas:

If you are travelling to Exeter or Cornwall from overseas for the spring term, there are a few important things to consider. We advise you to check the government’s Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance and also the guidance on Entering the UK to ensure you are able to plan your return:

  • You should not travel if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been a close contact of someone with COVID-19.
  • You should ensure that prior to departing for England you have proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test result taken within three days of departure with your transport operator. More information on pre-departure testing is available on
  • UK Government COVID-19 regulations mean that travellers arriving in the UK will need to self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival. From February 15th, all passengers travelling to England are legally required to take COVID-19 tests on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine. You need to book these before you travel and include details of tests on your passenger locator forms. There are significant fines if you do not get tested.
  • The Government Test to Release scheme allows arrivals to the UK to get tested five days after arrival in the UK and leave self-isolation early if they test negative. See our ‘what is the Test to Release scheme for international travel and how can I use it’ FAQ for more details. Please note you will still need to get tested on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine, regardless of whether you participate in Test to Release.
  • The UK has introduced travel bans to the UK for a number of countries, meaning that people who have been in or transited through the countries listed in the last 10 days will not be granted access to the UK. This does not include British and Irish Nationals, or third country nationals with residence rights in the UK. If you are an international student with a Tier 4/new student visa or pre-settled/settled status under the European Union settlement scheme, you are exempt from this ban, because you have residence rights. If you are allowed to enter the UK from a travel ban country, you will need to self-isolate in a quarantine hotel for ten days after you arrive in the UK. There is a cost of £1750 per person for hotel quarantine. For more details, please see our FAQ ‘I want to travel to University from a country on the UK’s travel ban list. Am I allowed to do so and what should I consider?
  • Some countries may impose travel bans or choose to limit flights to and from the UK as the COVID-19 situation changes. Please be sure to check the travel advice of the government where you live before making travel plans.
  • You should read the Government’s safer travel guidance for passengers before departing and refer to Exeter’s Planning Your Travel to University guidance.
  • Everyone travelling to the UK must complete a Passenger Locator Form prior to your departure. You will be required to show proof of a completed Passenger Locator Form at the UK border. You can complete it up to 48 hours before you enter the UK.

If you need to self-isolate on arrival in the UK, please see our information for students who are self-isolating webpage for frequently asked questions and information, including specific advice for students who need to self-isolate when arriving from overseas.

British and Irish nationals, or third country nationals with residence rights in the UK, can enter the UK after having been in one of the countries with a travel ban to the UK but they are required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival. There are no exemptions to self-isolation for these travellers. Non-EEA national visitors, and EEA nationals without a right to reside in the UK, will be denied entry to the UK if, in the 10 days before their arrival to the UK, they have been in or travelled through countries with a travel ban to the UK. If you are an international student with a Tier 4/new student visa or pre-settled/settled status under the European Union settlement scheme, you are exempt from this ban, because you have residence rights. However, if you are currently residing in a country with a travel ban to the UK, you should avoid travel to the UK if possible and only travel if absolutely necessary. These enhanced measures are in place in order to prevent the spread of new strains of COVID-19 into the UK.

If you are allowed to travel to the UK from a travel ban country, from 15th February 2021 upon arrival in England you will need to self-isolate for 10 days in a designated quarantine hotel. Please note that if you need to stay in a travel quarantine hotel, you may only enter the UK through designated airports – you can find detail on the Government website. You will be escorted through the airport with other passengers who need to quarantine at a managed quarantine hotel. Your ‘quarantine package’ includes transport to your quarantine hotel.

When you arrive in England, you will be taken directly from the airport to one of these government approved quarantine hotels. There is a maximum cost of £1750 per person to quarantine in one of these hotels. Bookings will be made through a dedicated Government online portal before you travel and will include:

  • assigned government transportation
  • food and drinks
  • accommodation in a government-approved hotel
  • security
  • welfare support
  • COVID-19 testing on day 2 and 8 of quarantine

You can find the Government’s full guidance on quarantine hotels and details of how to book on the Government’s ‘Booking and staying in a quarantine hotel when you arrive in England’ website.

To ensure compliance, the Government had introduced fines from £5,000 rising to £10,000 for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel.

Please contact the Rapid Response Hub if you plan to travel to the UK from a travel ban country and need to self-isolate in a quarantine hotel. You will be eligible for support such as our ‘Digital Hamper’, with vouchers for services like Kindle, Amazon, and Netflix to keep you entertained during your time in quarantine. We can also arrange welfare calls to check in with you during your time in hotel quarantine and make sure you have everything you need. You can find details about our support for self-isolating students, much of which can be accessed virtually, on our dedicated self-isolation support pages.

If the £1750 fee for hotel quarantine creates a significant financial hardship for you, the Government offers an opportunity to apply for a deferred repayment plan when booking. If these costs cause you substantial financial hardship, you may be eligible to apply for financial support through our Success for All Fund. Please read the information on the Success for All Website carefully if you are considering applying for a grant.

These enhanced measures are in place in order to prevent the spread of new strains of COVID-19 into the UK.


If you test positive for COVID-19 or need to self-isolate with your household, you will need to self-isolate and will not be able to travel on a plane or other form of public transport. It is important to note that travel insurance may not cover your costs if you cannot take a pre-booked flight owing to a positive COVID-19 test.

You are therefore advised to book refundable, cancellable, or flexible travel options where possible to make sure that you do not lose out if you are required to self-isolate. Check the terms and conditions of any bookings carefully and, if you do have insurance, check to see whether you are covered in the case of a positive test result.

Please be aware of the latest Travel Advice for Trains from South Western Railway if you wish to travel by rail.

Before travelling, you should read the Government’s safer travel guidance for passengers. There are some key features to consider, including:

  • if possible, travel using private transport rather than public transport
  • if travelling in a private vehicle, avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or support bubble
  • wearing a face covering while travelling unless exempt, especially if using public transport
  • where possible, keep a safe distance from people from other households when travelling
  • wash or sanitise hands regularly
  • avoid the busiest routes where possible, as well as busy times like the rush hour
  • download the NHS COVID-19 app before you travel, if possible, and check in where you see official NHS COVID-19 QR code posters
  • if using public transport, book ahead wherever possible to let transport providers know you will be using the service

If you are planning to travel to Exeter or Cornwall from overseas, you can find details of routes to airports and travel hubs on our Planning Your Travel webpage. Travel plans are aimed at students travelling to Exeter / Cornwall from major airports. Also on this website, you can find details of local taxi companies that will provide airport transfer at reasonable rates if you feel more comfortable travelling in a private vehicle. If travelling from the airport, it is important to plan your travel carefully in advance and adhere to the safe travel guidance outlined above.

If you are entering the UK from a country not on the travel ban list, you may wish to utilise the Test to Release Scheme, to potentially shorten your time in self-isolation. Please note the Test to Release Scheme does not replace the separate Government day 2 and day 8 tests, which still must be booked and taken.

The scheme is not available to anyone who has been in or through any country that is subject to a travel ban in the 10 days before arrival in England. Please check that the country you are travelling from, or any country you are travelling through, is not on the travel ban list before booking a test for Test to Release.

The scheme is voluntary and applies to those self-isolating in England only. 

Find out more on our dedicated Test to Release information page

If you need to self-isolate on arrival in the UK, please see our information for students who are self-isolating webpage for frequently asked questions and information, including specific advice for students who need to self-isolate when arriving from overseas.

Yes. All international travel corridors to England closed and you must now self-isolate after arriving in the UK, even if you have tested negative for COVID-19. Most people travelling to the UK from abroad will also need proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test result to enter the country. You need to have taken the test in the 3 days before you travel.

You can read the full Government Guidance for further details.

Yes. From February 15th, all arrivals from overseas into England will be required to undertake 2 mandatory COVID-19 PCR tests – on day 2 and day 8 of their 10-day quarantine. You must book these test through a Government portal for a cost of £210. You can read full details and book your tests on the Government’s how to quarantine when you arrive in England website.

People travelling to England will be responsible for booking these tests before they travel. The passenger locator forms you complete, any time in the 48 hours before arriving in the UK, will require you to include details of your self-isolation arrangements and the testing package you have arranged. Tests must be booked from a list of government-approved test providers. A £1,000 penalty will also be given to any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test, followed by a £2,000 penalty to any international arrival who fails to take the second mandatory test.

Unless you have participated in the Test to release scheme, you will not be able to leave quarantine until you have received both a negative result from your day 8 test and quarantined for 10 days.


If you arrive in the UK from a country that is not on the travel ban list, the people you’re staying with do not need to quarantine, unless:

  • they travelled with you
  • you or someone in the place where you’re staying develop symptoms of coronavirus

You should still avoid as much contact with other people as possible in your home to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus. You should stay in a well ventilated room with a window to the outside that can be opened, separate from other people in your home. Wear a face covering in all communal areas of your accommodation, social distance (2m) from others in your household and robustly clean any areas that you are required to share such as kitchen surfaces, taps, door handles and switches. Strictly obey Government guidance on reducing the risk of spreading coronavirus.

To ensure you receive all the support you need, all international travelers to our Cornwall Campus should contact us using this form:

International Arrivals COVID-19 Isolation support

No. Please do not return to campus if anyone in your household has any symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss of teste/smell) or has tested positive for COVID-19. You are required to complete 10 days in self-isolation from the date anyone in your household returns a positive test result. Even if you test negative for COVID-19 yourself, you must not travel until you have completed this ten day period in self-isolation. If you subsequently develop symptoms of COVID-19, you must self-isolate for 10 days from when symptoms start.

If you develop any symptoms of COVID-19 while you are away from University, please seek a test through the relevant provider where you are located. If you are within the UK please use the Government testing service.

Once you have completed your time in self-isolation, you may return to campus - paying careful attention to safe travel guidance and the restrictions in your local area.

The UK government has announced that it will introduce the Graduate Route from the summer of 2021. From this time, students holding a valid Tier 4 or Student visa, who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a UK Higher Education Provider, will be able to remain in the UK and work, or look for work, for 2 years after they complete their studies (or 3 years if they have completed a PhD).

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic it is possible that some students may need or choose to study part of their programme from their home country before coming to the UK. The UK government has announced that to be eligible for the Graduate Route applications must be submitted in the UK. It was originally a requirement that all students who started their programmes in 2020 and hoped to apply to the Graduate Route would have to arrive in the UK by 6th April, but owing to the COVID-19 pandemic this deadline has been pushed back until 21st June. For further details see:

Travel Test Packages booked through the Government portal are provided by a company called Corporate Travel Management (CTM). The booking form and contact details for anyone requiring support can be found here: Anyone experiencing a delay in their tests for days 2 and/or 8 being delivered by CTM is advised to call 119.

Yes. Under the current national lockdown, you can only travel internationally for certain legally permitted reasons which you can read about on the Government website. This includes returning to your home country if you are a foreign national. From 8 March 2021, you must complete a travel declaration form to declare the reason that you need to travel abroad. You can find this form and further details on the Government Declaration form for International Travel website. You must complete this form if you are travelling outside the UK from England. You don’t need to complete the form for travel within the UK, to Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

You should print a copy of the completed form or save it to a mobile phone or other device. You may be asked to show this declaration form at the port of departure. You may carry evidence to support your reason for travel. Entering a port of departure to travel internationally without a completed form is a criminal offence, for which you could be fined. If you try to travel abroad without a legally permitted reason, you may also be fined for breaching the stay at home requirements. The recommended evidence for the Travel Declaration Form that you are an international student travelling home is a letter showing proof of membership of an academic institution. You can access such a letter through the Self-Service Letter function on the Student Record System in iExeter.

The Government have created a ‘travel window’ to allow students to travel away from university and back to their term-time accommodation once during their Easter break. At the University of Exeter the Easter break is from the end of the Spring Term on Friday 26 March until the beginning of the Summer Term on Monday 26 April. In order to minimise transmission, and because travel restrictions could change whilst students are overseas, making it harder for students to get back into England, we would strongly advise students not to travel, and to remain in their term-time accommodation.

We have posted full information on our international travel advice pages.