Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guidance for British people travelling overseas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, if they are legally permitted to travel internationally.

COVID-19 travel guidance

From 5 November to 2 December 2020, travelling away from home, including internationally, is restricted from England except in limited circumstances such as for work or for education. Different rules apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You must follow all the rules that apply to you.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides guidance on COVID and non-COVID risks overseas. The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to many countries and territories on the basis of COVID risks. You should check the travel advice for your destination.

Travel disruption is possible worldwide. Other countries may bring in new measures with little notice such as border closures, movement restrictions or quarantine rules. Travellers should be prepared to stay overseas longer than planned.

Plan for your travel: checklist

Developments in the coronavirus pandemic remain uncertain around the world. No travel is risk-free. 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.

International travel under the new restrictions for England

There are a limited number of legally permitted reasons which allow people to leave their homes. Going on a holiday is not a permitted reason. You can only travel internationally for the reasons you would be allowed to leave their home, such as for work, and subject to the rules in the country you travel to.

Find out more about legally permitted reasons in part 2 of the new legislation: restrictions on movement.

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

Before you travel

  • follow all the current rules for where you live, including if they restrict international travel. 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 before your trip. 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 facilitate travelling to another country, you should not use the NHS testing service. Instead, 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. Speak to 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 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

When you return

Our travel advice

Our travel advice pages explain that you must comply with the restrictions on travel, both domestic and international, that apply in each nation across the UK.

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

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 measures that countries have taken is available in our travel advice pages.

Latest health advice

See 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.

Published 4 February 2020
Last updated 4 November 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated to include information on the new restrictions coming into force for England on 5 November

  2. Reviewed and updated to reflect current COVID-19 guidance

  3. Updated to reflect travel corridors coming into effect on 10 July. You may not have to self-isolate when you arrive in the UK from some countries and territories.

  4. Updated as the exemptions to the global advice against all non-essential travel come into effect

  5. Updated with a new checklist following the change in travel advice, where some countries will be exempted from the global advisory against non-essential international travel from 4 July.

  6. Added link to new guidance on safer air travel in the 'When you return to the UK' section

  7. Updated as the new rules for entering the UK (providing contact details and self-isolating) come into force

  8. Added link for how to get a test in the 'when you return to the UK' section

  9. Added information on new rules on entering or returning to the UK that will start on 8 June

  10. Updated to reflect coronavirus symptoms

  11. Updated to reflect new social distancing guidance

  12. New guidance link for wellbeing and mental health if you are abroad during the coronavirus pandemic

  13. New link to guidance on staying where you are if you cannot return to the UK

  14. New information on how government and airlines are helping bring British people travelling to return, including through special charter flights.

  15. Update for the latest travel advisory: return to the UK now if you’re travelling abroad

  16. Added link to new guidance on essential travel for international freight transport

  17. updated with latest advice against all non-essential travel worldwide

  18. Travel Checklist under "Before you go" sub-heading updated

  19. Addition of information about education trips overseas.

  20. Updated with latest guidance about planning for travel during the coronavirus outbreak

  21. Updated with latest advice for Italy and new guidance for people planning to travel abroad

  22. Updated to reflect new advice for the lockdown areas in northern Italy

  23. updated with latest travel advice for Cheongdo and Gyeongsan (South Korea), Public Health England advice on returning from Italy, and link to ABTA advice

  24. updated to reflect new advice against all travel to Daegu in South Korea

  25. Latest FCO travel advice on COVID-19.

  26. We have added additional travel advice on COVID-19

  27. First published.