Guidance

Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)

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

Return to the UK now if you’re travelling abroad

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British people travelling abroad to return to the UK now, if commercial flights are still available.

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. We are updating information on returning from the country you’re in as quickly as we can
  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.

Where commercial routes remain feasible, airlines will be responsible for getting their passengers with pre-booked tickets home. Where commercial routes do not exist, the government will provide up to £75 million to enable UK residents to buy tickets for special charter flights to return home from priority countries.

  • 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

  • to find out if a special charter flight is available where you are, see the ‘Return to the UK’ section of for the country’s travel advice page. This page will also explain who is eligible, how to book a ticket and how much it will cost

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

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

Do not travel abroad unless it’s essential

The FCO advised British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This applies for an indefinite period due to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. 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 COVID-19. This advice remains in place. Check FCO travel advice pages for the latest information.

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.

When you return to the UK: protect yourself and others

When you return to the UK on a flight from another country, you should follow the government advice that applies to everyone:

  • go straight home from the airport, avoiding public transport where possible
  • stay at home and only go outside for food, health reasons, daily exercise or work if you absolutely cannot work from home
  • if 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 start to have symptoms like a high temperature or frequent cough, go straight home and self-isolate for 7 days. 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.

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.

If you feel that the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) are affecting your mental health, you can access a number of online resources to support your health and wellbeing:

For more advice, this NHS guidance is relevant wherever you are:

If you cannot return to the UK

The government is in contact with airlines, foreign governments and local authorities to ensure British people travelling abroad can return to the UK as soon as possible. If you’re unable to leave at this time, you should:

  • follow the advice of local authorities, to help minimise your risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19). 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

If your visa is running out

Some countries have set up new processes to help foreign nationals extend their visas in the current exceptional circumstances. Check 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

We are not advising British people who are permanent residents overseas to return to the UK. Instead you should stay and follow the advice of the local authorities in your host country. Further information on measures that host countries have taken is available in our travel advice pages.

Our advice for British people travelling overseas to return is because it may be more difficult for them if they cannot get back to the UK in the coming weeks.

Everyone, including permanent residents overseas, should consider their own personal circumstances and take into account all of the information available. If you wish to return to the UK, you should make arrangements to return now.

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 National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) has also produced general advice on preparing for foreign travel and how everyone can reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.

Published 4 February 2020
Last updated 8 April 2020 + show all updates
  1. New link to guidance on staying where you are if you cannot return to the UK

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

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

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

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

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

  7. Addition of information about education trips overseas.

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

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

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

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

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

  13. Latest FCO travel advice on COVID-19.

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

  15. First published.