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Does blood donation count as essential travel?

Does blood donation count as essential travel?
Image source: Getty Images

With government guidance changing as the coronavirus situation develops in the UK, it can be tricky to keep abreast of what’s deemed as essential travel and what isn’t. However, it’s important to fully understand the rules before embarking on any journey.

I’ve been giving blood for a few years now, making sure to donate regularly since learning my blood group was one of the most rare, with just 2% of – or one in 50 – donors having the same type as me (*dad joke alert*: I ‘be happy’ to have B negative blood!)

As a male, I can give blood every 12 weeks (for women, the recommendation is once every 16 weeks). It being around three months since my last visit, I received a text message last night from NHS Blood Donation…

“Blood donation is needed and is essential travel. Please book if you can.”

However, not everyone can donate blood or platelets. For example, if you have ever been injected with drugs then you don’t qualify, amongst many other criteria. According to, you are eligible to donate if:

  • you weigh between 50kg and 158kg (equivalent to 7 stone 12lbs and 25 stone);
  • you’re aged between 17 and 66 years old (or 70 if you have given blood before);
  • you are over 70, and have also given a full blood donation in the last two years;
  • and you are “fit and healthy”;

Now that it’s been confirmed that giving blood counts as essential travel, I’ll be booking in my next visit imminently.

I’m fortunate enough to be within walking distance of my local donation centre, but if you’re not then I’d advise checking our guide to alternative methods for essential travel that are available right now.

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