Important 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.
If you intend to travel to England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland from abroad, including UK nationals returning home, 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.
If you are legally permitted to travel abroad, 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.
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to:
- the whole of China based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
Travel to China is subject to entry restrictions
All direct flights from the UK to mainland China have been suspended. This measure will be subject to a future review but no date has been given. British nationals travelling to China from a third country should follow the directions on the website of the local Chinese Embassy or consulate for requirements from that country.
- You will need a valid visa to enter China. Chinese Visa Application Centres in London and Belfast are closed until further notice. The Application Centres in Manchester and Edinburgh will be closed from 27 December until further notice.
On 4 November the Chinese Embassy in the UK announced the temporary suspension of entry into China by non-Chinese nationals in the UK holding Chinese visas or residence permits. Entry by holders of diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas would not be affected. Foreign nationals visiting China for emergencies can still apply for visas at Chinese Embassies or Consulates and entry by non-Chinese nationals in the UK with visas issued after 3 November 2020 will not be affected.
You will need to submit a Health Declaration Form before you travel.
You must provide a negative ‘nucleic acid’ test for COVID 19 and evidence of having taken an ‘IgM’ antibody test. Both of these tests must be taken no more than 48 hours before you travel These rules may be subject to change.
- Reports of both your nucleic acid (COVID-19) and IgM (antibody) tests must come from the same service provider. This does not mean the provider must carry out both tests, but that the provider must guarantee both test reports. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
See Entry requirements for more information before you plan to travel.
Preparing for your return journey to the UK
If you’re returning to the UK from overseas, you will need to:
Check our advice on foreign travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and sign up for email alerts for this travel advice.
If you’re planning travel to China, find out what you need to know about coronavirus there in the Coronavirus section.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.
The Chinese authorities continue to impose various control and quarantine measures across the country. This includes restrictions on movement, reduced transport, entry and exit controls for towns and villages, and isolation requirements for travel between different parts of the country.
You will be separated from your child if one of you tests positive for coronavirus. If this happens to you, you can call +86 (0)10 8529 6600 for 24/7 urgent consular assistance. Non-residents may be charged for their care. For further details on healthcare in China, check the Coronavirus section
The British Embassy and Consulates-General in Shanghai and Guangzhou provide travel documentary services to British nationals. However, you will need to make an appointment online before coming to a Consulate. See Notarial and Documentary Services Guide. The ability of the British Embassy and Consulates to provide face-to-face assistance within China is currently limited. If you’re in China and need consular support, call +86 (0)10 8529 6600 or the FCDO in London on +44 (0) 207 008 5000.
British nationals normally need a visa to enter mainland China, including Hainan Island, but not Hong Kong or Macao. See Visas
You must register your place of residence with the local Public Security Bureau within 24 hours of arrival. See Entry requirements
In light of protests and demonstrations in Hong Kong, there are reports of greater scrutiny from mainland authorities at border crossings between the mainland and Hong Kong. This includes reports that travellers’ electronic devices have been checked at border crossings. You should be aware that the thresholds for detention and prosecution in China differ from those in Hong Kong. See Local laws and customs and Safety and security
China has a zero tolerance policy on drugs. There are severe penalties for drugs-related offences including the death penalty. Police often raid bars and nightclubs checking for the use of illicit substances. Raids on private homes have also occurred. See Local laws and customs
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in China. Although foreigners haven’t been specifically targeted, attacks may occur in places visited by foreigners. You should take particular care during national holidays or when transiting public transport hubs, and always follow the advice of the local authorities. Previous attacks have targeted public places including on one occasion at a railway station and an open air market in 2014. There have been no recent attacks in the main tourist areas. The risk is higher in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region. You should take particular care and remain vigilant when travelling to or within Xinjiang. See Terrorism
Do not attempt to travel to Tibet without getting the correct permits. The Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) can be closed to foreigners without notice. See Tibet and the Tibet Autonomous Region
China doesn’t recognise dual nationality. If you have both British and Chinese nationality you may be treated as a Chinese citizen by local authorities, even if you enter China on your British passport. If this is the case, the British Embassy may not be able to offer you consular assistance. The FCDO has published guidance on nationality in China. If you’ve formally renounced Chinese citizenship, you should carry evidence that you have done so. See Local laws and customs
High levels of air pollution can occur in major urban and industrialised areas in China, and may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. You can check the pollution index levels for many cities in real time. See Health
The typhoon season in China normally runs from May to November. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms and follow the advice of the local authorities. See Natural disasters
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.