Guidance

Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guidance for British people travelling overseas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

COVID-19 Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. This advice is being kept under constant review.

Future travel abroad

You should not travel abroad unless it is essential. Be aware that all countries may restrict travel without notice. 

To change or cancel your travel plans, follow these steps:

  1. contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers
  2. get in touch with your insurance provider

The FCO was already advising against all but essential travel or all travel to some areas or countries due to risks that do not relate to coronavirus. This advice remains in place. Check FCO travel advice pages for the latest information.

Essential travel

If your travel is essential, see our guidance on international travel.

International freight transport is an essential activity in the context of travel advice. Read the Department for Transport guidance for the freight transport industry.

Returning to the UK if you’re travelling abroad

If you are currently travelling abroad, you should return to the UK as soon as possible if commercial flights are available. If you cannot return home at this time, read our guidance on waiting to return to the UK.

If you’re travelling abroad, you should:

  1. contact your airline or travel company now
  2. keep up-to-date with our travel advice pages. Our advice on returning to the UK from each country will be updated as soon as information is available
  3. for real-time updates, follow our embassy or high commission’s social media for the country you’re in

Getting flights back to the UK

The government is working in partnership with the airline industry to help British people travelling abroad to return to the UK.

If you are in a country where UK-bound flights are still available, book or rebook your flight and return home as soon as possible. Airlines are responsible for getting their passengers with pre-booked tickets home from countries where commercial flights are still operating.

Where commercial flights are not available, you may be eligible for a special charter flight. You should check the ‘Return to the UK’ section of your country’s travel advice page to see if a flight is available. See also our general guide to the booking process for special charter flights.

If there are no commercial or special charter flights for the country you’re in, follow the guidance in the ‘Staying during coronavirus’ section of that country’s travel advice and see our guide to staying where you are if you cannot return home.

If you cannot afford the cost of a flight to return, and have exhausted all other funding options, you may be eligible to apply for an emergency loan from the government:

  • to apply for a loan for a commercial flight, find out who to contact about emergency loans

  • you can request a loan to pay for a special charter flights, when you are asked to pay. See the travel advice ‘Return to the UK’ section for the country you are in

You should also sign up for Travel Advice email alerts, to get our latest advice if the situation changes.

Return travel and your health

It is a personal decision whether to travel back to the UK. You should consider your individual circumstances and the range of information available to you, including travel advice, to decide what is right for you.

If you are concerned about risks to your health, for example you are following UK or local guidance to shield or self-isolate, you may wish to seek professional health advice locally or from your usual doctor in the UK.

Read further advice on avoiding infection during your journey home and preventive measures to take on your return.

When you return to the UK: protect yourself and others

The rules for entering or returning to the UK are changing on 8 June.

Until 7 June

When you return to the UK from a flight from another country, go straight home, avoiding public transport where possible. If you can, wear a face covering if you need to use public transport, and see safer travel guidance for passengers. Only people living in your household should collect you on arrival.

If you are remaining in England:

  • stay safe and alert and only go outside for food, health reasons, exercise and recreation, or work if you cannot work from home
  • when you go out: always stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people, do not touch your face, and wash your hands frequently, including as soon as you get home

If you are travelling on to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, follow the relevant devolved administration guidance:

If you start to have symptoms

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness. However if you start to have any of these symptoms:

  • continuous cough
  • high temperature
  • loss of or change in your sense of taste or smell

you must go straight home, self-isolate for 7 days and arrange to have a test to see if you have coronavirus.

See the guidance for households with a possible infection and call NHS 111 if your symptoms worsen. For further guidance, visit gov.uk/coronavirus or visit nhs.uk for specialist medical advice.

From 8 June

From 8 June, there will be new rules for entering or returning to the UK. You will:

  • need to provide your journey and contact details when you travel to the UK
  • not be allowed to leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations (known as ‘self-isolating’)

If you are planning to arrive back in the UK on or after 8 June, you must read the guidance on entering the UK from 8 June.

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 are waiting to return to the UK

If you cannot leave return to the UK at this time, you should:

  • follow the advice of local authorities, to help minimise your risk of exposure to coronavirus. Your safety and security is the responsibility of the local authority where you are
  • stay in accommodation that’s suitable for your needs and keep in regular contact with family and friends at home
  • keep up-to-date with our travel advice
  • contact your travel insurance provider: the Association of British Insurers says most providers will look to extend single trip cover for up to 60 days if you are making every effort to return home

Read more guidance if you are waiting to return to the UK.

If your visa is running out

Some countries have set up new processes to help foreign nationals extend their visas, and we have negotiated with local authorities in some countries to automatically extend visas if you cannot return. Check the ‘staying during coronavirus’ section of the travel advice for the country you are in and make sure you comply with the local requirements.

If you have immigration enquiries, you need to contact either the local immigration authorities in the country or their UK-based embassy.

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, take tests for coronavirus and, if positive in some cases, 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.

If you live abroad permanently

As a permanent resident overseas, you should consider your own personal circumstances and take into account all of the information available:

  • if you stay, follow the advice of the local authorities where you are. Further information on measures that countries have taken is available in the ‘staying during coronavirus’ sections of our travel advice pages

  • if you wish to return to the UK, you should make arrangements to return now. This includes planning for where you will stay and how you will travel there

We are only advising British people travelling overseas to return because it may be more difficult for them if they cannot get back to the UK.

If you’re concerned about friends or family overseas

If you are concerned about a friend or family member who is currently overseas, you should read our country-specific travel advice and sign up for email alerts.

Our travel advice and consular support

Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice

Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice is constantly under review, so that it reflects our latest assessment of risks to British people. 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.

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 everyone can reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.

Published 4 February 2020
Last updated 28 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added link for how to get a test in the 'when you return to the UK' section

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

  3. Updated to reflect coronavirus symptoms

  4. Updated to reflect new social distancing guidance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  12. Addition of information about education trips overseas.

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

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

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

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

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

  18. Latest FCO travel advice on COVID-19.

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

  20. First published.