Visit friends and family abroad

How to stay safe when travelling to and staying in a familiar overseas destination.


When travelling overseas to visit friends and family, it’s easy to feel you’re simply going ‘home’ because you feel familiar with your destination. You may have been there many times before - you may have even lived there. But things can still go wrong whatever country you are in. This guide explains the important precautions to take before you leave the UK.

Visit your GP

  • even if you have lived in a country in the past, you may no longer be immune to diseases common in that region, and your children definitely won’t be
  • research the health risks on the NHS travel health information page as soon as possible before travelling, and if necessary visit your GP or a travel clinic
  • protect yourself if you are returning to a malarial region - around 2,000 British travellers return home with the disease each year

Documentation for visiting friends and family abroad

Check the entry requirements for a country and what visas you’ll need. You’ll find this information in our travel advice by country, or by contacting the relevant embassy. These pages also explain a country’s situation, which can change very quickly. Check both before you travel and while you’re in the country.

You’ll still need comprehensive insurance even if you are staying with family or friends. If you are a dual national, seek advice from your insurer on whether this affects your cover.

If you’re a dual national of both Britain and the country you are visiting, it is important to know that the British government can only help you in exceptional circumstances.

Know what you can and can’t bring back into the UK

It is illegal to bring meat and dairy products into the UK from countries outside of European Union.

There are also restrictions on importing plants and some animal products and you could face strict penalties for failing to declare restricted items.

Read guidance on bringing food, plants and animals into Great Britain.

Published 25 March 2013
Last updated 13 October 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated links for guidance on bringing food, plants and animals into Great Britain.

  2. First published.