Travel outside the UK can affect blood donation. This is because some infections may be caught abroad, usually through mosquito, or other insect, bites.
Travel and contact history are no longer important for diagnosis. People who have travelled and do not have symptoms do not need to stay at home.
However, a number of general health restrictions do now apply, specifically regarding symptoms and self-isolation. Please visit the General Health criteria section for more information.
West Nile Virus (WNV)
You can give blood following travel to a WNV area (including North America and some parts of Europe). We decide when you come along if we need to do an extra test for WNV on your donation. So please make sure you tell us about any recent travel outside the UK, each time you give blood.
You can usually give blood 12 months after visiting a malarial area. If you want to donate sooner, we can take a blood sample to test for malaria after four months. If this test is clear, you can come back before 12 months. There are different rules if you have ever:
Lived in a malaria area for at least six months.
Had an unexplained illness which might have been malaria.
Get in touch with us for more information, on 0345 90 90 999.
Several viruses are spread by mosquitoes, including Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika. As long as you have been well, you can give blood four weeks after travel to an affected area. If you have been ill during or shortly after your visit, we'll ask you to wait six months before giving blood.
South American Trypanosomiasis (Chagas Disease)
Chagas disease is found in some areas of South and Central America. People who are at risk of Chagas can give blood in Scotland provided we’ve done an extra test to check they haven’t been exposed to this condition
If you or your mother were born in South or Central America, or if you have ever lived in this region for more than four weeks, please contact us on 0345 90 90 999 for advice about whether you can give blood in Scotland.
Outbreaks and new infections
New infections can emerge at any time, so our rules can change at short notice. Please check back each time you're preparing to give blood.
Every time you come to give blood we will ask you: whether you were born abroad; whether you have lived or worked abroad for more than six months; and whether you have had any illnesses during or after travel abroad.
It is very important you tell us about your recent travel, if you were ill while abroad, or shortly after you came back. Different rules may apply if you have lived in one of these countries for more than six months. Please get in touch before coming along to give blood.
You should also check our additional eligibility criteria before giving blood. Talk to one of our advisers before coming along to give blood, on 0345 90 90 999.
Ashmore and Cartier Islands
Australia (except north of Alice Springs)
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Cocos (Keeling Islands)
French Southern and Antarctic Lands
Greece and the Greek Islands
Heard and McDonald Islands
Isle of Man
Palestine Occupied Territories
Portugal (except Madeira)
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
United Arab Emirates
You must wait at least 12 weeks between donations. If you’re not sure how long it's been since you last gave blood, call us during working hours on 0345 90 90 999, or fill in our online enquiry form and someone will get back to you.
Providing you're fit and well, you may be able to give blood while taking regular medication. However, there are some exceptions:
Please wait two weeks from recovery and at least seven days after completing a course of antibiotics before giving blood.
If you are taking antibiotics for your skin, you may still be able to give blood.
You can give blood provided you are feeling well and have had no adverse side effects to the vaccination.
High blood pressure medication
You can give blood while taking high blood pressure medication.
If your blood pressure medication changes, you'll have to wait at least four weeks before giving blood.
You can give blood provided you are symptom free on the day.
You can give blood while using oral or other contraceptive measures.
You can usually give blood after taking painkillers.
Please make sure you tell us about them, as they may affect how we use your donation.
You are unable to give blood if you have been advised to take iron supplements by your doctor or nurse.
You will be unable to give blood while taking the following medications, and for a variable length of time afterwards:
Finasteride (Proscar®, Propecia®)
Dutasteride (Avodart®) Acitretin (Neotigason®)
Anti-thyroid drugs (e.g. Carbimazole)
Drugs which suppress the immune system (e.g. Prednisolone, Methotrexate)
If you have received, or think you may have received, a blood transfusion since 1st January 1980, you will not be able to give blood. This measure was introduced in 2004 by the UK Blood Transfusion Services.
This is just one of a range of measures designed to minimise the risk of passing variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD) through the population.
The chance of any individual contracting vCJD from a blood transfusion is already very small. Experts hope that these additional safety measures will help eradicate vCJD from the UK population.
You can still give blood if you received a blood transfusion in the UK before 1980.
If you received blood in another country before 1980 please contact us for advice.
You may be eligible if your own blood was given back to you (autologous transfusion).
If you would like to discuss any of the above, get in touch on 0345 90 90 999
You can become a blood donor as soon as you reach your 17th birthday.
If you're a new donor, you can start giving blood anytime up to your 66th birthday.
If you have given blood before, even if it was some time ago, you can give blood up until your 70th birthday.
If you're over 70 and in good health, you can continue to give blood provided you have made a full donation in the last two years.
To give blood, you need to weigh over 7st 12lb (50 kg). If you're a girl aged 17-19, additional height and weight criteria apply. Have a look at the height and weight chart to find out if you can give blood at this time.
These guidelines are in place to stop you feeling faint or unwell after giving blood.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR GIRLS AGED 17-19
What has changed?
New donation guidelines have been introduced for female blood donors under 20 years of age, taking account of both height and weight.
If you're under 20 years old and over 5’ 6” (168cm) in height, or if you are under 20 years old and over 10st 3lb (65kg) in weight, the changes do not apply to you and you can give blood.
If, however, you are a female under 20 years of age, and you are either under 5’ 6” (168cm) in height or under 10st 3lb (65kg) in weight, your height and weight will need to be taken into consideration.
Those who DO NOT meet the new guidelines will be unable to give blood for the time being. Once you have reached your 20th birthday, or if your weight increases to meet our criteria before your 20th birthday, please come back to give blood.
Why is this changing?
New donation research and medical evidence has shown that, based on height and weight, young female donors of smaller build (as indicated in the chart) are at an increased risk of fainting following blood donation.
Therapies which use needles or break the skin (including acupuncture)
You can give blood as long as:
The reason you had treatment doesn't stop you giving blood.
The treatment was performed by an NHS professional or a Qualified Health Care Professional
If you were treated by someone who was not a registered health care professional, you'll have to wait four months before giving blood. Registered health care professionals include doctors, dentists, registered nurses, physiotherapists and others. Contact us if you're not sure.
Colonic irrigation or colonic hydrotherapy
You have to wait four months after colonic irrigation or hydrotherapy before giving blood.
Herbal and homeopathic medicines / nutritional supplements
You can usually give blood while taking these, provided you don’t have a medical condition that stops you.
You must not donate if you think you need a test for HIV/AIDS, HTLV or Hepatitis.
You must not donate for at least three months after:
receiving money or drugs for sex
having sex with a partner who is, or you think may be:
...HIV or HTLV positive
...a Hepatitis B carrier
...a Hepatitis C carrier
(men only) oral or anal sex with another man, even if you used a condom or other protection
(women only) sex with a man who has ever had oral or anal sex with another man, even if they used a condom or other protection.
sex with a partner who:
...has ever received money or drugs for sex
...has ever injected, or been injected with, drugs: even a long time ago or only once. This includes body-building drugs and tanning injections. You may be able to give if a doctor prescribed the drugs to your partner.
...may have been sexually active in parts of the world where HIV/AIDS is very common. This includes most countries in Africa.
you have taken PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophlyaxis)/Truvada® or Post-Exposure Prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection.
You must not donate for at least 28 days after:
sex with someone who was diagnosed with Zika virus in the six months before sexual contact
You must never give blood if:
you are HIV positive or receiving treatment for HIV
you are HTLV positive
you are a Hepatitis B carrier
you are a Hepatitis C carrier
you have ever injected, or been injected with, drugs; even a long time ago or only once. This includes body-building drugs and injectable tanning agents. You may be able to give if a doctor prescribed the drugs. Please ask.
If you would like to discuss any of the above, do not hesitate to get in touch on 0345 90 90 999