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Important Travel Information

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) (updated 17 May 2021)

Unrestricted travel is now allowed both within Scotland and between Scotland and England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man (with the exception of any areas of Scotland in Level 3 or 4, from where only essential travel is permitted).

Please make sure that you understand the latest travel restrictions and are permitted to travel, by following current Scottish Government guidance.

Pre-departure testing

To reduce the risk of coronavirus being brought into island communities by people who are unaware they are infectious, anyone planning to travel is encouraged to test before they do so.  You can order rapid lateral flow tests for delivery to your home anywhere in the UK and they should arrive within 24-48 hours.  It is recommend that you test three days before you plan to travel and then again on the day of departure.  If you are positive, this would allow you to self-isolate before you begin your journey.

Please note that if your test result is negative, this is not a guarantee that you do not have coronavirus.  You must continue to follow national and local restrictions, including FACTS guidance.  If you develop coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate and book a PCR test.

This is a voluntary scheme and you will not need evidence of a negative test to travel to Orkney.  However, you are encouraged to participate in order to reduce the risk of inadvertently carrying coronavirus into our community.

Contact information will continue to be gathered for all passengers for track and trace purposes.

We would also recommend that you download the NHS Scotland Test and Protect app from Protect Scotland before you travel.


Where possible, please book via the website.

As we continue to take extra precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19, we regret that we cannot guarantee travel to unbooked passengers arriving within an hour of a scheduled sailing. For same day travel, we recommend that you contact the booking office on 01856 831226 to check availability and arrange your booking.

If you need to change your booking, you can do so by activating an account in the booking area.

All travel must be paid for in advance. If you have booked over the phone or by email, the card details that you provide will have been securely stored and will be processed when you arrive at the terminal.

PLEASE NOTE – If you are planning a visit to Orkney, please make sure that you have pre-booked accommodation. For late bookings, check


Please do not check-in at the booking office.

On arrival at the ferry terminals please join a queue and wait in your vehicle. A member of staff will check you in and issues you a boarding pass. If you have to leave your vehicle, please keep a safe distance from other passengers and staff.

There are toilets facilities on board the vessel and at the terminals at Gills Bay and St Margaret’s Hope. Disabled toilet and baby changing facilities are also available on board.

If you need to use the lift on board, please advise at time of booking (you will be asked to use your hazard lights when boarding).


You will be directed on to the ferry. There is only one stairwell open on the ship on the Port side with a hand-sanitising station, which must be used before entering the ship.

Face coverings are mandatory when moving around any internal areas of the ship. All passengers will be expected to comply with Transport Scotland’s advice on travelling safely, and provide their own face covering. If you believe you are exempt from wearing a face covering, please follow the Scottish Government guidance

On board  

Some areas of the ship and seating areas are restricted to maintain social distancing.

Designated tables and seats for disabled passengers and those with restricted mobility are signposted.

Our children’s play area is now open.

Please use the hand-sanitising stations provided and observe strict hygiene measures and social distancing at all times.

You are reminded that if you are displaying any COVID-19 symptoms, please do not attempt to travel.

Thank you for your assistance at this time and choosing to travel with Pentland Ferries.