Detailed guide: Working in England if you are a senior executive bringing significant economic benefit to the UK

This page provides guidance on the Business Jobs and Investment Exemption. It should be read alongside the regulations.

You may be permitted temporarily to leave quarantine in England if you are a senior executive in a business and you are undertaking business activities which are likely to be of significant economic benefit to the UK.

You are only exempt when you are undertaking activities that qualify for the exemption. You must self-isolate at all other times.

This exemption is designed to enable activity that creates and preserves UK jobs and investment, while taking steps to ensure public health risks are minimised.

Who is exempt

Certain senior executives that are performing activities which would be more likely than not to bring ‘significant economic benefit’ to the UK are exempt. Read the regulations for a full definition of a ‘senior executive’.

The exemption covers 3 types of senior executives (where they are undertaking qualifying activities in England). These are:

  • multinational executives – executives based overseas who are part of multinational firms and visiting their UK based subsidiaries or branches
  • returning executives – executives of UK based firms who are normally based in the UK and who had left the UK on business connected with their UK based firm and are seeking to undertake exempt activity in England to benefit the same firm on their return
  • international executives – executives of overseas companies normally based overseas who are seeking to undertake exempt activity in England related to either:
    • making a financial investment in a UK based business
    • placing a contract for the purchase of goods and services from a UK based business
    • establishing a new business within the UK

You do not qualify for the exemption if your activities can be done remotely (for example by telephone or email) or can be done by anyone other than you who would not need to leave self-isolation.

You are considered to be bringing ‘significant economic benefit’ if the work you are doing has a greater than 50% chance of either:

  • creating or preserving at least 50 UK-based jobs in either:
    • an existing UK-based business which has at least 50 employees
    • a new UK business within 1 year of the date you arrive in the UK
  • resulting in the purchase of goods or services from a UK based business with at least 50 employees. The order must be worth at least £100 million, or the order would need to be more likely than not to create or preserve 50 or more jobs in that business

Complying with the exemption

If you are planning to use the exemption, it is up to you to determine whether or not your proposed business activities would qualify.

You will need to provide requested details on the passenger locator form.

You will need to self-isolate, except when carrying out activities that would be more likely than not to deliver significant economic benefit (including travelling to and from the place in England where you are working).

You are only able to meet others as required by the exempted business activities you are undertaking, all of which should be done in a COVID-secure way.

If you are undertaking a series of qualifying activities on the same site and on the same day (e.g. a meeting followed by a factory inspection) then you may remain on site between exempt activities so long as you self-isolate on site between the activities.

During your time in the UK you will be required to adhere to national and local COVID-19 restrictions in force at the relevant time.

Signed letter from a senior executive

You will also need to carry and be prepared to show a letter signed by a senior executive from either:

  • the specific existing UK based business you are visiting
  • in the case of the creation of a new business in the UK only, the business proposing to create and own that new business

The letter must be written on headed notepaper of the signing executive’s firm and include the following information:

  • your full name (as the senior executive undertaking exempt activity)
  • date of birth
  • passport number
  • UK address at which you are otherwise self-isolating
  • the specific activity/activities you need to undertake, their duration and on what date/dates and in which specific location/locations the activities are to take place
  • contact details including a direct phone number for the senior executive signing the letter and for their business
  • a short explanation which gives evidence of the need for the activities to be performed by you and in person at the specified location/s and why the activity/activities are considered to be more likely than not to deliver significant economic benefit to the UK

Each senior executive seeking to use the exemption should obtain their own letter giving the details described above.

Any individual who leaves self isolation when required to self isolate and who is not lawfully exempt from those requirements will be committing a criminal offence.

If you feel unwell after entering the UK, you should consult the NHS website.

Examples of activity that would or would not be likely to qualify for an exemption

This is not an exhaustive list and is intended to provide guidance only.

Ineligible activity Potentially eligible activity*
Attending a routine board meeting Attending a board meeting where the meeting is to take a decision on whether or not to make a new investment in a UK plant.
Potential investor wants to discuss a business idea Substantial business plan has been previously developed making clear plans to set up a business and create over 50 jobs in the UK in the next year and investor needs to decide which of 2 UK sites to purchase
Attending a UK company site/s for a routine visit Attending a company site/s to inform a decision whether or not to continue to invest in the site.
A routine factory visit by a company customer A site inspection to decide whether or not to place a very large new order or contract with the company visited
A site visit by a potential investor to see the operations of a company to enable them to decide at the end of the visit whether or not to invest in that company.
UK based senior executive returns to the UK:
– from a holiday
– from a combined holiday and business trip
– from a business trip that did not relate to the ongoing business operations of the UK based company which would receive benefit from the qualifying activity e.g attending a generic business conference, e.g visiting a customer of a different UK based company

UK based senior executive officer returns to the UK from an overseas business trip and needs to undertake routine business activity in the UK

A senior executive returns to the UK after undertaking a trip necessary for the ongoing business operations of his UK based firm and is personally needed to attend an urgent meeting with a potential investor in the same UK based firm who needs to visit a company site with the executive in the immediate future to enable them to decide whether or not to invest.
Potential customer of a UK based company wishes to have exploratory talks at the UK company Potential customer wants to visit a firm’s site to enable them to decide whether or not to place a large contract to purchase goods and services from that UK based firm.
Senior executive of overseas parent of a UK based company wants to attend a routine meeting with UK stakeholders Senior executive of overseas parent of a UK based company needs to attend a meeting with creditors or investors to reach a decision on future funding for the UK based company which could make the difference between the UK company continuing or going into insolvency.

*To be potentially eligible, all of the activities below must be more likely than not to deliver a significant economic benefit as defined in the guidance. The activity must meet all criteria (for example it must have to be done in person and cannot be done virtually or by another person who is not subject to a requirement to self-isolate, exempted activity should be undertaken in England only).