My experience with Test and Release + Quarantine in the UK

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I’ve been in England for the past 2 weeks after a fantastic ride over in British Airways Club Suites. I had a rather round-a-bout journey that ended up requiring multiple passenger locator forms and a rebooking, which I get into below, but if you’re considering a trip to the UK under the current system…hopefully my experience can be of some help to you.

Filling out the Passenger Locator Form

The UK government needs to know where you will be quarantining prior to entry. As such, you’ll need to fill out a form which requires a litany of information including:

  • passport number
  • address where you will quarantine
  • your pre-booked testing confirmation
  • whether you intend to test to release
  • your flight information
    • this includes seat number
  • phone number that will be used while in the UK

We not only changed flights but also seats on one flight…we had to fill out new passenger locators forms each and every time. More information below

You can find all of the rules for quarantine here

Here’s a quick overview:

What you can and cannot do in quarantine

You must quarantine at the address you provided on the passenger locator form. This can include staying:

  • in your own home
  • with friends or family
  • in a standard hotel or other temporary accommodation

Amber list arrivals cannot quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel – these are for red list arrivals only.

You must quarantine in one place for the full quarantine period, where you can have food and other necessities delivered.

Quarantining safely

As soon as you arrive at your place of quarantine you should, as far as possible, avoid contact with other people in the place where you’re quarantining to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

You should stay in a well ventilated room with an outside window that can be opened, separate from other people in your home.

If you’re staying in a hotel or guest house, you must stay away from others who did not travel with you. You must not use shared areas such as bars, restaurants, health clubs and sports facilities.

Stay 2 metres apart from other people staying there at all times.


You cannot have visitors, including friends and family, unless they’re providing:

Going out

Unless you’re at risk of harm, you cannot leave the premises where you’re in quarantine. You must only exercise inside the place where you’re quarantining or in the garden. You cannot leave the place where you’re quarantining to walk your dog. You will need to ask friends or relatives to help you with this.

If you’re at risk of harm

If you’re at risk of harm (for example in cases of domestic abuse), you can leave the place where you’re quarantining.


You must not go shopping. If you need help buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, you should ask friends or relatives or order a delivery or ask for help from NHS Volunteer Responders.

Getting or posting your tests

Where your testing provider conducts the day 2 and day 8 tests at a test site you can leave the house for your test. Where your tests are delivered and self-administered, if there is no one in your household or bubble who can post the test for processing, you can leave the premises to post your test.

If you have to leave the premises, you should follow safer travel guidance and avoid public transport if possible.

How it went for us being from an Amber country ( USA )

At the time of our trip, Amber countries need to quarantine for 10 days with testing prior to departure, on day 2, and again on day 8. You can also leave quarantine early via the Test and Release program which requires an additional test on day 5. Day 1 is the first after your arrival…as an FYI.

So how did it go in reality?

Upon arrival we were never once asked for our paperwork and no one ever showed up at our quarantine location to verify our whereabouts. We did receive calls every single day, and I would certainly have more than one number listed. Mine didn’t ring the first 4 days of quarantine, although I did receive voicemails, but my fiancee’s did – on day 5 it finally rang and I spoke to someone who said I needed to redo my paperwork with a number that would hopefully ring consistently. We got calls all the way through day 9.

Tests you need to book:

At the bare minimum you need to successfully test negative 3 times in order to be released into the general public in England: prior to departure, day 2 and day 8.

However, at the time of this writing, there is also a Test to Release program that allows you to exit quarantine after testing negative on Day 5. This would up the total testing to 4 negative tests. This is what we did.

  • 72 hours pre-departure testing
  • Day 2 testing
  • Day 5 Testing ( optional ) – only if you plan to Test and Release
  • Day 8 testing
  • Day 10 release

It should be noted if you test positive at any time, you begin the 10 day quarantine all over again.

72 hours Prior to Departure

We had originally booked our flights using Alaska miles to fly on American Airlines from Indianapolis to London via Charlotte. In order to board that plane you need to provide proof of a negative Covid test. However we ended up on a British Airways flight due to a rebooking and had to show the test again there.

We had been visiting friends in the Atlanta area and simply googled places that qualified for PCR airline covid testing. We opted for an 8 hour test and had results in about 6. Here are a few that are more generalized across the country.

You’ll get something that looks like this:

We booked all of our tests via Oncologica

You’ll need to book tests for Day 2 and Day 8 regardless if you choose to Test to Release. You can pick a provider here. If you choose to Test to Release, you’ll actually receive 3 kits.

Prior to boarding the flight you’ll have to provide your reference number: we booked through Corona Focus App ( Oncologica ), our tests were delivered to our quarantine address, and they were quite simple to use. Follow the instructions, drop in the mail, and then login to the app to see the results.

The results are displayed in the app like this:

Arrival into the country

When we arrived into the country I was under the expectation that officials would need to see our test results, passenger locator forms, etc. That wasn’t the case.

  • We headed through normal security at the epassport gates.
  • Fast Pass was closed down and everyone was ushered through the same immigration line regardless of fare class

A quick scan of the passports and we were through. No extra questions. No additional documents. We then headed to Sixt to pick up our rental car and drove to my inlaws to quarantine.


You are required to stay at your designated quarantine address. No walks. No leaving for any reason. You can have food delivered, etc but there isn’t any exceptions made for vacating your quarantine address. We received calls on 9 days of our quarantine asking if we were at the address on our passenger locator form and reminded us that even after testing to release that we must still do a Day 8 test.

It should also be noted that test days go like this:

  • Leave on July 1st
  • Arrive in England on July 2nd
  • Day one of quarantine is July 3rd
  • Test day 2, or July 4th
  • Test day 5, or July 7th
  • Day 6 receive negative test and able to enter the public, or July 8th
  • Day 8, July 10th, do day 8 test
  • Day 10, July 12th, leave quarantine if day 8 test is negative

If you’re staying in a hotel to quarantine you aren’t currently permitted to mingle with other guests, go to the bar, etc.

Any Questions? How much longer will my experience be relatable?

If you’re holding an American passport, I anticipate that much of what I just went through won’t be necessary in the upcoming days or weeks due to a travel corridor being established between the USA and UK. I’ve heard rumors this will be on Thursday and will remove the need for a quarantine if you have had both doses. Whether that is the case or not, many people looking to travel into the UK, from an Amber country, under the current ( July 2021 ) program will need to do something similar to what I’ve just done.

If you have any questions, and I have an answer, I’m happy to help or provide prospective.



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  • Nik July 15, 2021

    First, thank you for an informative post. I made two trips to US from UK and pretty much had to go through what the author has posted. However both times despite landing in UK early morning at around 7 AM there was along queue for immigration. Both UK residents and US passport holders (and from other countries) have the same queue. Both times they inspected passenger locator form and test results and made sure I have Covid tests booked.
    On the author’s comment about no quarantine for people coming from US who have received two jabs is partially true. There will be no quarantine only if you have received both these jabs in UK.
    As this list states, “”From 4am Monday 19 July you will not need to quarantine on arrival in England or take a day 8 COVID-19 test, as long as you: have been fully vaccinated under the UK vaccination programme.

  • isaac July 13, 2021

    I hate hearing that it’s still like this. I was in Costa Rica back in June and a friend from Newcastle (who had already contracted COVID) had to quarantine in a quarantine hotel because CR is in the “red”. Surely the UK will open up with again to American travelers (especially vaccinated people).

    We’ll be going in October as long as it is open to us. Questions for you is do you think its better to wait? Do you think airlines will offer better deals once UK is opened up to American tourist? Lastly, did you just transfer your Alaska Miles over to British Airways? We have about 150k cap one miles and want to get the best bang for it.

    Thanks for the post and love reading your material!!

  • Jonathan Shapiro July 12, 2021

    Can you shed any more light on this statement?

    “I’ve heard rumors this will be on Thursday and will remove the need for a quarantine if you have had both doses.”


  • Andrew July 12, 2021

    Any idea what the process / rules would be if I was connecting in London (and had to stay overnight)? Would it just be quarantining in the hotel room overnight and then I can fly again? Or something much more onerous?

  • DW July 12, 2021

    What were border wait times like? Were UK Citizens and US passport holders separated when passing through border control?

  • dee July 12, 2021

    This sounds absolutely nuts to have to go thru this!!! Were you vaccinated before all of this nonsense??? If so even crazier than i thought…too bad we do not do this to the illegals entering the USA daily to protect all of US!!

  • mojo July 12, 2021

    Informative, thanks for posting 🙂

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