HomeUnited KingdomDetailed guide: Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)

Detailed guide: Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)

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.

Plan for your travel: checklist

Developments in the coronavirus pandemic remain uncertain around the world. No travel is risk-free, and many countries have closed their borders to UK travellers due to the new variant of the virus.

If you are in the UK you should not travel abroad. You can only travel abroad if you have a legally permitted reason to leave home.

You should check the guidance for your personal circumstances before deciding whether you can travel internationally.

If you are legally permitted to travel abroad and are planning travel in the future, even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before, follow this checklist.

Before you travel

  • follow all the current rules for where you live. You need a legally permitted reason to leave your home at all, including to travel abroad. In the UK, there are different restrictions in place in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

  • keep up-to-date with the latest developments for your destination. Sign up for travel advice email alerts and check the TravelHealthPro website for travel health guidance 

  • find out about any entry restrictions, screening or quarantine requirements on arrival that might affect you. Check ‘entry requirements’ in our travel advice and contact the UK-based embassy of the country you’re travelling to for more information

  • if you need to take a COVID-19 test to travel to another country, you should not use the NHS testing service. You should arrange to take a private test

  • read the safer air travel guidance on sensible precautions and steps to take if you’re flying. Consider your own circumstances and health, and remember you will need to wear a face covering on flights in England and Scotland. See also the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) guidance

  • check with your accommodation provider for information about availability and the safety measures they have put in place 

  • read the advice of local authorities and follow all local health measures in place during your journey and in your destination. Local measures and travel restrictions may change before you arrive or during your stay. Check the travel advice page for your destination and check with your transport provider for more information 

  • get travel insurance, and make sure you are content with the level of cover it provides. If you already have travel insurance check it is valid and provides appropriate cover 

  • check your cancellation rights. Contact your tour operator, transport and accommodation providers if you have any questions 

When you’re abroad

  • continue to follow any updates to our travel advice for your destination

  • be prepared to comply with measures to manage localised outbreaks such as border closures, movement restrictions, testing requirements or quarantine rules. These could be brought in at short notice

  • if you test positive for coronavirus you are likely to need to get treatment locally and stay there until you have recovered. If you are required to quarantine or self-isolate by local authorities, you should expect to do so in the country

  • you may need to stay longer than you intended. Plan ahead for any delays to your return home and the financial implications or practical arrangements you may need to make

  • you should liaise closely with your travel company or airline to ensure you are aware of any changes to schedules. Plan for the risks of disruption and local domestic measures affecting your travel when arranging your return to the UK

  • if you will be returning to the UK, prepare for your return journey by completing the passenger locator form. 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

When you return

  • you will need to follow the rules for entering the UK

  • 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. All other current entry requirements and restrictions continue to apply

  • you must show proof of a completed passenger locator form at the UK border. You can complete it up to 48 hours before you enter the UK, and should do so before arrival. Failing to complete the form is a criminal offence

  • from 4am on January 18, you must also self-isolate when you enter the UK from any foreign country except Ireland, unless you have a valid exemption. All other entry requirements and restrictions continue to apply. Read the guidance on self-isolation for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

  • you may not have to self-isolate when you arrive from some countries and territories known as ‘travel corridors’. View the latest guidance and list of travel corridors for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

  • check the list of people who are exempt from the English border rules

  • if you need to self-isolate, you may be able to pay for a COVID-19 test to find out if you can reduce your self-isolation period

FCDO travel advice

Our travel advice explains that you must comply with the restrictions on travel, both domestic and international, that apply in each nation across the UK. You must not leave home or travel, including abroad, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so.

It sets out the risks that you may face if you go to another country, including non-COVID risks, if you are able to travel abroad.

We continue to advise against all non-essential international travel to some countries and territories. You should check the country page for your destination. We also currently advise against cruise ship travel.

We are monitoring the international situation very closely and keeping this advice under constant review so that it reflects our latest assessment of risks to British people.  We take a range of factors into account.  For coronavirus, this includes the incidence rate and the resilience of healthcare provision in each country.  Find out more about how our travel advice works.

Consular help

We publish all our travel advice on GOV.UK. Our consular officers cannot provide any additional information by phone. Read more about the consular support we provide.

If FCDO travel advice changes when you are abroad

Travel advice is under constant review and may change at short notice, if risks in a country change.

Our travel advice may change while you are in a country to advise against all travel, or all but essential travel, because of COVID risks. If this happens, we do not advise you to return immediately to the UK. Instead, you should follow the local advice on any measures the local authorities are taking to control the virus before your return to the UK.

If you decide you wish to shorten your stay abroad because of a change in travel advice you should:

  1. contact your airline and travel company to discuss your options
  2. check if you need to self-isolate on your return
  3. provide your journey and contact details before you travel using the passenger locator form

If changes relating to the new COVID-19 variant mean you cannot return from travel abroad

If you are travelling abroad and unable to return to the UK, contact your airline or travel provider for advice. You can also contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate for urgent assistance.

Quarantine while you are abroad

If the local authority where you are proposes to quarantine you for your own protection, you should follow their advice.

If there are suspected cases of coronavirus where you are, you may need to remain in your hotel room or accommodation for 14 days, move to quarantine facilities and take tests for coronavirus. If you test positive, in some cases, you may need to be hospitalised abroad.

You should also contact your airline or travel company, and your insurance provider as soon as you can. We only organise assisted departure in exceptional circumstances.

Looking after your mental wellbeing

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Keep in regular contact with the people who usually support you: family, friends and colleagues, especially if you are self-isolating abroad.

Read guidance on how to look after your wellbeing and mental health if you’re abroad during the current coronavirus pandemic.

If you live abroad permanently

As a permanent resident overseas, you should follow the advice of the local authorities where you are. Further information on COVID-19 measures that countries have taken is available in our travel advice pages.

Latest health advice

Read the latest NHS guidance on coronavirus for the current situation in the UK and abroad, and the latest government guidance on coronavirus.

The NaTHNaC provides general advice on preparing for foreign travel and how to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.

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