Test to Release

scheme starts 15th December

As of the 14th of December the self-isolation period for travellers arriving into the UK form countries not on the travel corridors list was reduced from 14 days to 10. This reduction also applies to those testing positive for coronavirus as well as those who have been in contact with someone who has the disease.

From the 15th December, arriving into England will have the option to take a COVID-19 test five days after leaving a country not on the travel corridors list, as part of the government’s new Test to Release scheme. This could shorten their period of self-isolation if the result is negative.

Please note this information is taken directly from the Government Guidance Test to Release Scheme page.

Covid-19 testing

How the Scheme Works

The Test to Release for International Travel scheme is for people who need to self-isolate on arrival in England.

Under the scheme you can choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test. If the result is negative, you can stop self-isolating.

The earliest you can take the test is 5 full days after you left a place not on the travel corridor list.

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

If you do not want to opt into the Test to Release scheme, you will need to self-isolate until 10 full days have passed since were last in a place not on the travel corridors list.

How to Take Part in the Scheme

To take part in the scheme you need to:

You will be asked to enter details of your test in the passenger locator form. You must do this to take part in the scheme.

You should book your test before you travel to England. This is so you can enter details of the test when you opt into the scheme on the passenger locator form.

If you decide to take part in the scheme after you have arrived in England, you will need to complete another passenger locator form.

You can opt into the scheme if you arrived in the UK before 15 December. You will need to book a test with a private test provider and complete another passenger locator form. You cannot take the test until 5 full days after you left a place not on the travel corridor list.

You will have to pay the private test provider for your test. You will need to book an individual test for each person opting into Test to Release, including children.

The test provider will either send a test to your address or you can attend a testing site. You may leave your house to post your test or to travel directly to and from the testing site. You should follow safer travel guidance and avoid public transport if possible.

Scheme Rules

If you have been somewhere that is not on the travel corridor list in the last 10 days, you must self-isolate when you arrive in England.

The earliest you can take the test is 5 full days after you were last in a place that is not on the travel corridor list. For most international arrivals this will be on your 5th full day of self-isolation.


Example 1

You leave a country not on the travel corridor list on Monday morning and arrive in England on Monday afternoon. Tuesday will be your first full day of self-isolation. You can take a test no earlier than your 5th full day of self-isolation – Saturday. You must continue to self-isolate while you await your test result.


Example 2

You are in a country that is not on the travel corridor list – a ‘non-exempt’ country. You leave the non-exempt country and you spend 2 full days in a country that is on the travel corridor list – an ‘exempt country’. You then travel to England.

The earliest you can take a test is on your 3rd full day of self-isolation in England. This is because you have already spent 2 full days in an ‘exempt country’, making a total of 5 full days.


If you test negative

If the test result is negative you can stop self-isolating as soon as you receive the result.


If you test positive for COVID-19

If the test is positive you need to self-isolate for another 10 days. Count the 10 days starting from the day you took the test, or from when you first had symptoms if that is earlier.

People you live with in the UK, or people you are staying with, should also self-isolate for 10 days from the date of your positive test.


If your test is inconclusive

If the result from your test is inconclusive you must continue to self-isolate. You can choose to take another privately provided test to find out if you can stop self-isolating early.

You may be fined if you do not self-isolate. The fine is £1,000 for the first time, up to £10,000 for further breaches.

NHS Test and Trace Results

You cannot use tests provided by NHS Test & Trace under this scheme. Use one of listed private test providers. You can be fined if you use a negative NHS test result to end your self-isolation period early.

You can find further information on the Government Guidance Test to Release Scheme page such as:


  • What to do if you are told to self-isolate via an NHS app
  • What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms
  • Travel corridors and exempt jobs
  • Why self-isolating is important
  • Graphic showing examples of self-isolation periods


Some news outlets such as the BBC and Independent have reported that the scheme has got off to a ‘chaotic’ start. If any of our readers have to used the scheme we’d love to hear your experience in the comments down below!


To help you navigate the changes of business travel, we’ve created the brand-new Traveller Toolkit. This invaluable online resource is packed full of easy-to-use guides and checklists for every stage of every journey. We detail exactly what you need to know and do before, during and after your trip.

You’ll also find innovative and interactive virtual trips, which walk you through each step of  being at the airport, on the train and in the hotel. You can even check the travel restrictions and health status of your destination with our comprehensive COVID-19 Country Tracker, updated five times daily to ensure you have the very latest information to help keep you and your travellers safe.

Travel is changing. But with common sense and a good TMC behind you, travellers should have the confidence to once again take to the skies. It’ll soon be business as (un)usual.