Guidance for British people travelling abroad during the coronavirus pandemic, if they are legally permitted to travel under current UK COVID-19 restrictions.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel
It is illegal to travel abroad for holidays. Follow current COVID-19 rules where you live: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, you must have a permitted reason to travel abroad and complete a declaration form.
Some countries have closed borders, and any country may further restrict travel or bring in new social distancing rules with little warning. Check our advice for all the countries you will visit or transit through.
When you return, follow the rules to enter the UK from abroad (except from Ireland).
FCDO travel advice during COVID
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice sets out COVID-19 and other risks that you may face if you 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 closely and keeping our 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 COVID-19, this includes the incidence rate and the resilience of healthcare provision in each country. Find out more about how our travel advice works.
Plan for your travel
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect international travel. No travel is risk-free, and many countries have closed their borders or restricted entry to UK travellers. Any country may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant.
If you are in the UK you should not travel abroad unless you have a permitted reason to do so. It is currently illegal to travel abroad for holidays.
From 17 May, the rules will change if you live in England:
- check the Red, amber and green list rules for entering England
- if you have had a full vaccine course (2 doses), you will be able to demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccination status to enter some countries and territories. Once agreements are in place, you will be able to check our Travel Advice entry requirements to see if the country you plan to travel to accepts this proof of vaccinated status
You should read the guidance for your personal circumstances before deciding whether you are legally permitted to travel abroad. If you travel abroad, even if you are returning to a place you have visited before, follow this checklist.
1. Before you travel
- until 17 May, you need a permitted reason to travel abroad if you live in England, and you must complete a declaration form for international travel, including for travel within the Common Travel Area (which includes Ireland)
- subscribe to travel advice email alerts for your destination, and countries you will transit through, so you’ll know if we update our advice with new and important information
- check for entry restrictions, testing, or quarantine requirements in our travel advice or contact the UK-based embassy for your destination country
- if you need a negative COVID-19 test to enter a country, you should use a private test provider. The NHS Test and Trace service cannot provide the documents you need
- from 17 May, if you live in England and have had a full vaccine course (2 doses), you will be able to demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccination status using an app or letter to enter some countries and territories. Once agreements are in place, you will be able to check our travel advice entry requirements to see if the country you plan to travel to accepts this proof of vaccinated status
- if you’re flying, read the safer air travel guidance
- you must wear a face covering on flights in England and Scotland
- read National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) guidance
- ask your accommodation provider about their COVID-19 safety measures
- read the advice of local authorities and follow local health requirements during your journey and at your destination. Local and international travel restrictions may change before or during your stay
- get travel insurance with the appropriate level of cover
- check your cancellation rights. Contact your tour operator, transport and accommodation providers if you have questions
- use the travel abroad step-by-step guidance to make sure you’re fully prepared
2. When you’re abroad
- continue to follow updates to travel advice, as there may be changes for your destination
- be prepared to comply with changing restrictions to manage local COVID-19 outbreaks, such as border closures, movement restrictions, testing and quarantine requirements
- if you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to seek treatment where you are, and stay until you have recovered. If local authorities tell you to quarantine, you should expect to do that where you are
- travel restrictions may unexpectedly delay your return home. Plan for possible delays. Make sure you have access to money and have made practical arrangements to be away for longer than planned
- if delays occur, you should keep in contact with your travel company or airline for any changes to transport schedules
- read our guidance if you are unable to return to the UK due to COVID-19
3. Prepare to return to the UK
Before you enter the UK you must:
- take a COVID-19 test up to 3 days before departure. You will need to show a negative test result when you arrive in the UK, including if you are returning home. Read further information on testing for travel to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland from abroad
- fill in your passenger locator form up to 48 hours before you enter the UK
- to prepare for quarantine:
- if you’re arriving in England from a country on the banned travel list ‘red list’, or you have transited through one in the past 10 days, you must book to stay in a managed quarantine hotel
- if you’re arriving in England, travelling from any other foreign country (except Ireland), you must book COVID tests under the quarantine rules for arriving into England
From 17 May the rules for returning to England will change. Check the Red, amber and green list rules for entering England.
4. When you arrive in the UK
- you must quarantine and take further COVID-19 tests when you enter the UK from abroad (except Ireland), unless you are exempt
If you’re arriving in England, and you are not travelling from a country on the banned travel list (‘red list’), you may be able to pay for a COVID-19 test under Test to Release, to find out if you can reduce your self-isolation period.
If you will arrive in England on or after 17 May, check the Red, amber and green list rules for entering England.
Consular help from the FCDO
If FCDO travel advice changes when you are abroad
Our travel advice may change while you are in a country to advise against all travel there, or all but essential travel, because of new COVID-19 risks.
If this happens, we do not advise you to return immediately to the UK. Instead, you should follow the local advice on any restrictions the local authorities are taking to control the virus before your return to the UK.
If you decide to shorten your stay abroad because of a change in travel advice, you should:
- contact your airline and travel company to discuss your options
- take the actions to prepare to return to the UK
If changes relating to a new COVID-19 variant mean you cannot return from travel abroad
If you’re 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.
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 in quarantine abroad.
Read guidance on how to look after your wellbeing and mental health if you’re abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 health advice
The NaTHNaC provides general advice on preparing for foreign travel and how to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.
If you live abroad permanently
If you live abroad permanently, follow the advice of local authorities where you live. Check our travel advice pages for information on COVID-19 restrictions in individual countries.
If you are in England temporarily and do not permanently reside in the UK, check the permitted reasons to travel abroad before you travel to where you reside.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad
Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in their country of residence. We will share information on other countries’ national COVID-19 vaccine programmes on our travel advice pages as they are announced. You can sign up to get email notifications when a country’s travel advice page is updated.
If you live overseas find out about COVID-19 vaccines available locally, and contact your healthcare provider for further advice. They can share the latest information about the national vaccination programme in the country where you live.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK authority responsible for assessing the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines. It has authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines for temporary supply and use in the UK. Find out more about MHRA approval for these vaccines.
British nationals living overseas should seek medical advice from their local healthcare provider in the country where they reside. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in other national programmes, including regulatory status, should be available from the local authorities. This list of Stringent Regulatory Authorities recognised by the World Health Organisation may also be a useful source of additional information.