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Preparing to arrive in the UK: Travel Advice

A short guide to help you through some of the practicalities of arriving in London, or to help if you are having to quarantine or isolate due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

Rules may change at short notice – always check the UK Government website for the latest information before travelling.*

If you are travelling to the UK to begin or resume your studies at the RCA please ensure that you are aware of current regulations concerning Covid-19 and quarantine. This page contains a summary of information for incoming students. For further details and advice please see the UK Government Covid-19 webpages.

If you have coronavirus symptoms, including:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste
do not travel. If you have already arrived, get a test and stay at home.

Travelling to the UK

International arrivals are required to prove negative Covid-19 test result before departure for England. Passengers arriving from all international destinations will be required to present a negative Covid-19 test result before departing for England to help protect against new strains of coronavirus circulating internationally. Further details are available here

You must complete a passenger locator form within the 48 hours before you travel. Submit a copy online, and print or download a copy to carry with you. The Home Office will use this to contact you if you have been near someone who later tests positive for Covid-19. 

Keeping safe while travelling

Once you arrive in the UK you must travel directly to your accommodation. Where possible take a taxi to your accommodation. You will find taxis available at all major UK airports and you will be required to wear a face-covering in the taxi. If you want to book in advance you can do this here. If you need to book a train to your accommodation, you can book here

If you are taking public transport remember to maintain distance where possible and wear a face mask. 

Covid-19 rules in the UK

Rules may be slightly different across the four nations within the union – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Please be aware of this and check local rules and regulations if you are arriving in a different part of the UK and then travelling to London from there. 

Rules in England and London

These may be subject to change, so please do continue to check up-to-date news. 

Please note that England is now in Step 2 of its 'Roadmap out of lockdown' plan and the COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed. Please visit the Mayor of London's website for more details on what you can and can't do

Previous rules still apply when out in public
  • 1m+ social distancing. (Try to keep 2m+ away from people you don’t live with or where there are no precautions in place).
  • You must wear a face-covering in enclosed public spaces and shops.
  • You must wear a face-covering on public transport and in private hire vehicles and taxis, and you should try to avoid peak times to reduce crowding.
If you are unable to wear a face mask for health reasons,  you can download an exemption certificate on your phone. You do not have to do this, but it can be helpful if you are asked why you are not wearing one, by a shop-worker for example.

Full government guidance is here

Apr 23, 2021, Recent changes in COVID-19 rules

India will be added to the UK Government's 'red list' at 4am on 23 April 2021. This means that students arriving from India holding a valid visa will need to quarantine in a government hotel for 10 days. 

Feb 15, 2021, New  hotel quarantine rules when arriving in England

Everyone who arrives into England must quarantine for 10 days from the point of their arrival. The day of arrival in England will be treated as day zero.

To stop the spread of potentially harmful variants into the UK, more stringent measures are in place for people who have travelled from or passed through a country on the list where travel to the UK is banned (the ‘red list’) in the last 10 days before arrival.

From 15 February, you must quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel if you’ve travelled from or passed through a country on the list where travel to the UK is banned.

Find more information about what to expect if you’re going into hotel quarantine, including help and support.

Who has to go into hotel quarantine?

If you’re a British or Irish national, or third-country national with residence rights in the UK and you’ve been in or passed through a ‘red list’ country in the 10 days before your arrival, you will need to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel, unless you’re exempt.

If you have not been to a ‘red list’ country in the last 10 days you must follow separate guidance.

Can I choose and book my own hotel?

Unfortunately not. You must book a ‘managed quarantine package’ before you travel via All bookings are done in this way regardless of whether you are flying into England, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Providing false or deliberately misleading information when filling out your passenger locator form is an offence punishable by imprisonment.

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 10 days before you arrived in the UK.

If you break the quarantine rules you may face a penalty of up to £10,000.

Quarantine on arrival in the UK

Students from countries not on the UK’s ‘travel corridor list’ must quarantine for 10 days after arrival. This means you must not go outside for any reason (unless absolutely necessary). You could face substantial fines if you do not adhere to quarantine on arrival if you’re required to do so.

Make sure that you plan for quarantine in advance. If you have any questions you can contact [email protected]. If you will miss any teaching, contact your department administrators to keep them informed.

Pay for a Covid-19 test to find out if you can reduce your self-isolation period after international travel

Under the scheme you can choose to pay for a private Covid-19 test. The earliest you can take the test is 5 full days after you left a place not on the travel corridor list. If the result is negative, you can stop self-isolating.

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

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

For further information is available from the UK Government:

Covid-19 Test to Release for International Travel

List of Private testing Providers for Test to Release


If you are in a shared house, please ensure you visit the UK Government guidance for self-isolation to ensure you all follow all the rules. Here is a guide to temporary accommodation. 

If you are living alone, please try to ensure you have as much information in advance about how to get support if needed. Please check your local council for support information. You can find your local council here. If you are having any trouble with your accommodation you can contact [email protected]


Make sure you have a bank card that you can use to pay for transport to your accommodation and to buy food and groceries online. If you have a non-UK bank, check that you can use your card in the UK and whether there are any restrictions.

You might choose to set up an online bank account in advance so that this is open when you arrive. There may also be options in your home country of opening a prepaid travel card which you can add money onto in advance. This may be helpful for the first few days in London.

Food and groceries

When in quarantine, you will not be able to go to the shops. You will therefore need to order your food online. Be aware that supermarket delivery services are currently very busy, so delivery times may need to be arranged several days in advance. If you can, arrange the delivery online before you travel to the UK. 

The main shops in the UK that you can buy groceries and toiletries online from are:

If you have a day or two to wait for delivery, try to bring some basic supplies, such as dried food, to ensure you have something available if needed. There are restrictions on food you can bring into the UK, so check here if you are unsure.  

You may also want to order from local restaurants or take-aways. The main food delivery companies are DeliverooUberEats and JustEat (these may also do some basic grocery shop deliveries for you). Some restaurants will also deliver to your place to support people in quarantine – look on Google Maps for places near where you live.

Internet and phone

To keep in touch with family and friends make sure you can use your phone in the UK. If not you may be able to set up a new account or order a new SIM card in advance. If internet access is not included in your accommodation, you may want to get a 4G dongle for initial access. 

If you want to open a new account with a mobile phone or broadband provider there is some useful information online; comparing both price and service. Be aware that installation services and deliveries may be currently restricted.

Household items

You might want to pre-order household items you know you will need in the first few days. If you are having items delivered in advance check that someone is there who can receive and store them for you at the address you will be living at.  

Retailers such as AmazonJohn LewisArgosWilko and IKEA might be a good place to start.

Make sure you also have toiletries for at least a few days. While you can buy them online at BootsSuperdrugAmazon or other online stores, it may take a couple of days before they are delivered.

Healthcare and medications

If you need any medical assistance, please visit the NHS 111 website or call 111.

If you develop coronavirus symptoms you should ask for a test online to find out if you have coronavirus or call the national COVID-19 helpline on 119 to arrange one. If you test positive please contact the health and safety team at the college T: 02075904175 and email: [email protected] 

You will also be able to access medications online from BootsSuperdrugLloyds Pharmacy and others.

Your mental health

Quarantine can be challenging for many people. Try to make sure you are prepared with the items you need, or that you can access them online. Make sure you have books or other forms of entertainment, that you try to maintain good health and some exercise, and that you can communicate with your family and friends. 

If you have a pre-existing concern about or diagnosis of, a mental health condition please contact [email protected]. They can discuss available services or options which may help. Or you can book an online appointment with student support. 

For urgent or out-of-hours support more information can be found here

As a student at the college you also have access to Together All platform, which is a confidential and safe community proving mental health support and access to confidential 24h a day helpline provided by CIC (external company), their telephone number is: 0800 085 1376


If you have a diagnosed disability or additional support needs which may present challenges during quarantine, contact our student support team, who can make an appointment to discuss any concerns you have.


Covid-19 and UK universities: international updates and FAQs

The Home Office has published guidance on immigration for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with Covid-19. For information please see UK Government updates below:

Visas extended for those currently unable to return home due to Covid-19 

Covid-19: Advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents 

A Home Office Coronavirus immigration helpline and email address is available for all immigration enquires related to Coronavirus.  

Telephone: +44 (0) 800 678 1767, Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm. 

Email: [email protected] 

For further information regarding visa extensions please contact [email protected]

The RCA has taken measures to ensure that our students and staff are as safe as possible while on campus. Up-to-date advice and information can be found on our website. More information about learning and teaching this academic year can be found here. 

Other sources of information 

These websites may be useful for more information:

For international students and with information about immigration, travel and advice: UK Council for International Student Affairs website 

UKCISA CoronaVirus Covid-19 Information for EU/International students

British Council: Covid-19: Support for international students

Student Support is here for you. 

Email us via [email protected]