HomeUnited KingdomDetailed guide: About Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office travel advice

Detailed guide: About Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office travel advice

COVID-19 travel guidance

Under current UK COVID-19 restrictions, you must stay at home. You must not leave home or travel, including internationally, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so. Check the rules that apply to you in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Currently before you travel to the UK you must provide your journey and contact details. Also check if you need to self-isolate.

From 4am on 18 January, if you intend to travel to England, Scotland, or Wales, including UK nationals returning home from travel abroad, you must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to 3 days before departure. If you do not comply (and you do not have a valid exemption) your airline or carrier may refuse you boarding and/or you may be fined on arrival. You must also self-isolate when you enter the UK from any foreign country except Ireland, unless you have a valid exemption. All other current entry requirements and restrictions continue to apply.

If you are legally permitted to travel, check our advice on your country of destination. Some other countries have closed borders, and may further restrict movement or bring in new rules including testing requirements with little warning.

Overview

British people make around 50 million trips abroad during an average year. Almost all of these trips are trouble-free. But every year the FCDO helps tens of thousands of British nationals who have got into difficulty abroad. In many cases, these difficulties could have been avoided.

Our travel advice can help make sure you have a trouble-free time while you’re abroad. Read it alongside a good guide book and other resources like social media, online message forums and blogs.

Using our foreign travel advice

Our travel advice aims to provide objective information and advice. Its purpose is to help you make better-informed decisions about international travel and plan for a trouble-free trip.

Check our country travel advice pages before you plan travel abroad. Sign up for email alerts to be notified of any updates to our advice before or during your trip.

Other resources that you may find useful for your travel planning include:

You can also get updates from our FCDO Travel social media channels on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The FCDO does not enforce its travel advice. No foreign travel can be guaranteed as safe, and you take personal responsibility for your own travel. Any decision to travel to, stay in or leave a country is for you to take on the basis of the best available information from our travel advice and other sources. The government cannot make these decisions for you.

Every care is taken in preparing our travel advice. However the FCDO does not assume any responsibility, including legal responsibility, to:

  • those who read the travel advice and who choose to take it into account when making any decisions relating to a particular country, or
  • to other people affected by those decisions

Read our full terms and conditions.

How we compile travel advice

The safety of British nationals is always our main concern in determining our travel advice. We know our travel advice can sometimes have an impact for businesses in the UK and abroad and for international relations, but we don’t let this affect our advice.

We constantly review our travel advice for each country or territory to ensure it includes up-to-date information and advice on the most relevant issues for British people visiting or living there. It covers a range of topics, including entry requirements, safety and security issues, health risks, details about local laws and information on the threat from terrorism.

We update travel advice as quickly as possible if we’re aware of an incident that might significantly affect British people travelling or living in the area. We may publish several updates each day during a developing crisis.

We base our travel advice on information from a number of sources, including:

  • local knowledge from our embassies abroad
  • information provided by the local authorities in each country
  • in some cases, information gathered by the intelligence services

Where the FCDO does not have the expertise to advise on a particular issue (eg vaccinations you need before travel) we may link to other sources of information and advice.

The amount of information we are able to provide varies from place to place. For some parts of the world we may be able to offer very detailed advice; for others we may not. We cannot give tailored advice for individual itineraries.

The detail in our travel advice does not generally extend to individual streets or neighbourhoods. Even countries that are generally safe to travel to are likely to have neighbourhoods that you may not want to visit, particularly at night. You should seek local advice about these places.

Deciding whether it’s safe to travel

The FCDO is often asked whether or not it’s safe to travel to a particular place at a specific time.

No travel is completely safe, but our travel advice always puts your safety first. We try to make objective judgements and we will advise against travel when we judge that the level of risk is unacceptably high.

It’s your responsibility to plan for a safe trip and to make decisions about whether or not it’s safe enough for you to travel. Each individual trip is different and each person has their own very different view of what an acceptable level of risk means for them. You are the only person that can make a decision that is right for you.

Specific types of travellers

Our travel advice is intended for all British nationals, whether they’re visiting or planning a longer stay.

Different risk levels may apply to particular types of travellers:

  • some people may know the place they’re travelling to very well and blend in with the locals, while others may stand out more from the crowd
  • some people may be at greater risk in some places – for example, people of a particular gender, ethnic background or sexuality, or those with certain pre-existing health conditions

In addition to our country-specific advice, we publish general guidance for specific types of traveller to help you prepare for foreign travel.

Whatever your circumstances, you should take personal responsibility for your safety. Use our travel advice as one source of information, in addition to others, to stay safe.

When we advise against foreign travel

There are times when we will formally advise British people against ‘all but essential travel’ or ‘all travel’ to a particular place:

  • in cases of non-terrorist threats like coups, civil unrest, disease outbreaks or natural disasters, we will advise against travel only when we consider the risk to British nationals is unacceptably high. In March 2020 we exceptionally advised against all non-essential international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • in the case of terrorism we will only advise against travel in situations of extreme and imminent danger, where the threat is sufficiently specific, large-scale or endemic to affect British nationals severely

You can check if the FCDO is advising against travel to all or part of the country you plan to visit on the travel advice page for your destination.

We constantly review all travel advice to make sure it reflects the current situation in that country or territory, and the latest assessment of risk to British people there.

Circumstances can change quickly, so we are unable to tell you how our advice may change in the future. We will remove advice against ‘all but essential travel’ or ‘all travel’ as soon as the situation allows. If you’re planning future travel and want to know about changes to our travel advice, sign up for email alerts for your destination(s) and continue to monitor our advice.

Defining ‘essential travel’

Sometimes we say that only essential travel is advised. Whether travel is essential or not is your own decision. You may have urgent family or business commitments which you need to attend to. Only you can make an informed decision based on your own individual circumstances and the risks.

How we describe the threat of terrorism overseas

We constantly review the threat of international terrorism to inform and advise British nationals travelling and living abroad.

Where possible, we will offer information and advice about the likelihood of an attack taking place, terrorists trying to carry out attacks. This includes potential targets, details of groups or individuals that are posing the threat and steps being taken to counter the threat. We may also provide details of previous terrorist activity. We don’t advise against travel to every country where there is a risk of terrorists operating.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

Travel health

UK health professionals provide information and advice on travel-related risks and disease, including vaccine recommendations.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, you should check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. See also the guidance from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

The NHS website provides general information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist. You may also wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy about other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

Check the Health section of the travel advice page for your destination for more information about travel health, local healthcare and travelling with medication.

Changing or cancelling travel plans

If you wish to cancel or change a travel booking, you should contact your travel company. Travel companies, including airlines, often take our advice into account but cancelling or rescheduling a flight ticket, holiday, tour or excursion is a decision that can only be taken by the travel company and the customer. Refunds are also a matter that must be resolved between the customer and the relevant airline, tour operator or travel agent. We don’t dictate when travel can or can’t take place.

If you have booked a package holiday, your travel company must comply with the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018. Part of this law says that you are entitled to a refund if there has been a significant change at your destination or in its immediate vicinity after you book and before you travel.

Citizens Advice provides advice about consumer rights to cancel a travel booking.

Travel insurance claims

Wherever you’re travelling, you should buy appropriate travel insurance and check your policy includes the cover you want. See our foreign travel insurance guidance page for more information.

Travel insurance companies sometimes refer to our travel advice in their policies. For example, your policy may not provide cover if you travel to a country where the FCDO advise against ‘all but essential travel’ or ‘all travel’. Some travel insurance policies may allow you to make a claim if you cancel a journey because of a change in our travel advice.

However, each individual insurance policy is different and only the travel insurance company concerned is able to decide whether to allow an insurance claim. They take into account a range of information, including their policy wording, any applicable exclusions, and specific evidence you provide as the claimant.

If you’re unsure about the validity of your insurance policy or whether you can make a claim, you should contact your insurance company.

Feeds to third parties

Our travel advice is available through feeds to businesses and other organisations for use on websites or smartphone applications. These websites and applications may use an edited or cached version of our Travel Advice. The most up-to-date and definitive version of our travel advice will always be available on GOV.UK.

Travel Aware

The Travel Aware campaign is a joint venture between the FCDO and the travel industry to help make sure British travellers are better prepared when they go overseas. The FCDO does not endorse any of the companies who are part of the Travel Aware campaign. The FCDO is not involved in the production or sale of the companies’ products, nor do we monitor their quality.

Lists of additional resources abroad

British embassies may provide lists of lawyers, translators and doctors, but FCDO staff don’t take any responsibility for the competence or probity of any firm or professional on these lists, or for the consequence of any legal action initiated or advice given.

Travel advice help and support

If you have read our foreign travel advice and have a question about travelling abroad, check the ‘Travel advice help and support’ section of the travel advice page for your destination country.

If you’re a British national and your question isn’t covered in our travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. Note that we cannot provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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