Guidance: Hardship arrangements for those unable to pay for managed quarantine or testing

Department Of Health

October 8
15:24 2021

Hardship arrangements

You should plan for and meet the managed quarantine and testing costs associated with your travel.

However, if you believe you will suffer severe financial hardship if you have to pay the full cost of your managed quarantine or testing fees before you travel, then hardship arrangements may be available to you.

If youre found to be eligible for hardship arrangements, you may be offered a repayment plan (where you pay for the cost of managed quarantine in monthly instalments) for some or all of your fees.

In exceptionally limited circumstances, you may be eligible for a fee reduction or fee waiver.

Hardship arrangements are only available if your travel is for essential purposes.

Essential travel includes:

  • work (where youre returning from work that could not be completed in the UK)
  • education (including for students coming to study in the UK)
  • urgent medical treatment (where it cannot reasonably be obtained in the UK) and
  • compassionate reasons (for example, where youve been to visit a close family member who is dying or critically ill, to attend the funeral of a close family member or to avoid injury or illness or escape the risk of harm)

Before you apply

Well expect you to take all reasonable steps to try to pay for the cost of managed quarantine or testing yourself before you apply for hardship arrangements. This could include exploring whether you could get a loan, including from friends and family, using a credit card or your overdraft.

Youll be asked to provide evidence that youve explored these options when you apply.

What well consider

When we assess your application for hardship arrangements, well consider a range of factors including:

  • your income
  • your savings
  • your access to credit and/or loans
  • whether your family or friends can lend you the money
  • your family circumstances, such as whether you have children or are a carer
  • your essential living costs, such as rent

If youre part of a couple (or live with your family), well take your partners and familys financial situation into consideration when assessing your eligibility. You must give details of their savings and income during the application process.

Eligibility for hardship arrangements

Hardship arrangements are only available if youre travelling for essential purposes.

You can only apply for hardship arrangements if you do not already have existing hardship arrangements in place.

This means if youre already on a deferred repayment plan for managed quarantine services or mandatory testing, or youve previously had your fees reduced or waived, you will not be able to apply again except in very limited circumstances (for example if youre an international student who has to enter the UK more than once for essential purposes, or if youre applying on behalf of a member of your immediate family who will not be travelling with you).

You must only apply for hardship arrangements if you believe you are eligible. If you provide false information, or leave out key information when applying, youll be committing fraud and may be prosecuted. If you have not booked and paid for a quarantine or testing package before arriving in England, and have not been granted a hardship arrangement, you may be fined up to 4,000. Youll also have to pay for your managed quarantine or testing on arrival.

Who is eligible

Hardship arrangements are only available to UK citizens or individuals with residency rights (for example, international students who possess a student visa).

You may be eligible for hardship if one or more of the following apply:

  • you have an annual household income of under 13,800 before tax
  • you or your spouse/civil partner (if not legally separated) have no, or limited, savings
  • you have dependents and significant care-related expenses
  • youre on income-related benefits
  • youre above state pension age and are on a fixed income

If your annual household income is less than 13,800 and your households savings are less than the cost of your managed quarantine and testing fees, youll be eligible for some form of hardship arrangement. If your annual household income is higher than 13,800 you may still be eligible for hardship, but youll need to provide additional evidence to support your application, such as details of your essential outgoings.

Please note that you should include any overtime or bonuses in your income.

Who is not eligible

You will not be eligible for hardship (unless exceptional circumstances apply) if:

  • you have a pre-tax annual income over 50,000 or an annual household income over 62,400
  • you or your spouse/civil partner (if not legally separated) have savings that could be used to pay for the cost of your managed quarantine or testing
  • youre able to take out a credit card or loan to pay for the cost of your managed quarantine or mandatory testing
  • your travel is not for essential purposes
  • you have existing hardship arrangements in place

If you have savings

Savings include:

  • money at home, in the bank, in a building society or in a credit union account
  • premium bonds or investments such as shares

Any savings that can be accessed within 14 days must be used to pay for your managed quarantine or testing fees upfront.

If you have savings which will take longer to access (up to 90 days), you must take steps to access these before you travel and use these to pay your fees as soon as your savings are available.

If you have enough savings to pay for part of your managed quarantine or testing, you must use these first and apply for hardship arrangements for the remaining amount.

How to apply

To apply for hardship arrangements if you plan to travel:

  • before 9 October 2021, phone Corporate Travel Management (CTM) on +44 (0)20 7429 9983
  • on 9 October 2021 or after, complete this form and we will contact you to discuss your application before you travel

When to apply

You must apply for hardship arrangements at least 14 days before youre due to arrive in England.

If youre travelling at short notice, youll need to explain your situation when you apply.

What information youll need to provide

Youll need the following information when you apply:

  • details of your income and your households income
  • details of your benefits (if applicable)
  • details of your savings and your households savings
  • a phone number and/or email address to contact you
  • your passport number
  • your date of travel
  • the number of people travelling

If you normally live outside the UK, you must convert your savings and monthly income into pounds sterling (GBP) using the current exchange rate when making your application.

You must provide information on all of your accounts, including if you have multiple current accounts, savings accounts and credit cards.

What happens after you apply

Well let you know whether or not youre eligible for hardship arrangements.

If youre eligible, well tell you what hardship arrangements are available to you, including whether youll receive a deferred payment plan, fee reduction or fee waiver.

If youre told youre eligible for a deferred payment plan, youll discuss how much you will be expected to pay each month and for how long. You can choose to accept or decline these arrangements. If you decline these arrangements, you will need to book and pay for managed quarantine or testing before you can travel to the UK.

Payment arrangements

?If youve agreed a repayment plan with our debt management partner, youll need to give them your bank details so that they can take the payments.

Under the repayment plan, the first instalment will be taken within 30 days and subsequent payments will be made on the same day each month. Youll be able to choose the day of the month.

If you have savings that take longer to access (up to 90 days), you must use these to pay your fees once youre back in the UK. Failure to do so will result in debt collection action being taken against you.

Reviewing your circumstances

If youre granted a repayment plan, your circumstances will be reviewed every 6 months.

If you cannot pay the agreed amount each month, your repayments may be reduced and the timeline for your repayment lengthened.

If your financial circumstances change before your review, youll need to phone or email our debt management partner. Theyll discuss your circumstances and decide if you need to make a different repayment plan. You can contact our debt management partner by email or phone:

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