COVID-19: Health Considerations for Travel
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has severely disrupted international travel.
Currently, each of the 4 UK nations have implemented localised restrictions and guidance on travel, including self isolation (quarantine) requirements. You should follow the rules that apply to your location. The latest guidance for each of the UK 4 nations can be found below:
As the pandemic evolves, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) continuously reviews and updates the list of countries which it advises against travel to due to COVID risks.
- See the FCDO "Guidance for British people travelling overseas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, if they are legally permitted to travel internationally"
Official guidelines are subject to change at short notice as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.
This page aims to provide you with advice on protecting yourself against COVID-19 when travelling and ahead of planning any future travel.
COVID-19 is a respiratory infection which is spread by droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- For further information see COVID-19
Your risk of being exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) during travel relates to the number of COVID-19 cases in the destination country, your means of travel (car, boat, aircraft etc) and your activities at your destination.
- The number of cases in different countries will vary over time, as will the measures countries put in place to control coronavirus (COVID-19), including physical distancing and hygiene measures.
- There is an increased risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) when you travel in enclosed shared spaces, such as trains, buses and aircraft, due to the close proximity of people.
- Maintaining physical distancing and hygiene measures will reduce your risk of being exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) during travel.
Countries may lift or implement travel bans or quarantine measures at any time to curtail the spread of COVID-19. These may impact your trip.
- You must comply with local public health authority guidelines in the country that you are visiting.
- You can find information on the latest requirements for each country on the FCDO website.
You should not proceed with travel if you are already feeling unwell. Even if your symptoms are not related to COVID-19, you will increase your risk of being denied boarding or being quarantined if your illness is detected during your flight, at entry or exit screening at airports, or when crossing borders.
Before making travel plans you should check all of the following:
- FCDO Travel Advisory Notices
- Your risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) at your destination
- COVID-19 testing at your destination prior to return to the UK
- UK self-isolation (quarantine) rules on your return
- Travel Insurance
- Medical Facilities at your destination
See frequently asked questions (FAQs) for information about pre-travel COVID-19 testing.
The FCDO issue Travel Advisory Notices (details of travel restrictions), including if you are advised to avoid all travel to a country. This information is updated regularly and can change between booking/planning a trip and your departure.
You must regularly check the FCDO website for the latest country specific advice including:
- Entry requirements (including pre-travel COVID-19 testing requirements) set by your destination country in response to COVID-19
- Reports of COVID-19 at your destination and measures the country is taking in response to the outbreak
Cruise Travel: On 12 March 2020 the FCDO advised against cruise ship travel for all British Nationals.
- Further information can be found here: FCDO website.
The risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) in every country worldwide is listed on the individual country pages of fitfortravel.
- Click the 'Alerts' link on a fitfortravel country page for details.
If the risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) is:
- High: you may be advised to avoid or consider avoiding non-essential travel to this country, particularly if you are at an increased risk of severe COVID-19.
- Moderate: you are advised to consider avoiding non-essential travel to this country if you are at an increased risk of severe COVID-19.
- Low: your travel can proceed as planned.
See the FAQs for how the risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) is determined.
Your risk is also influenced by your activities, and will be higher if you do not maintain physical distancing and hygiene measures during your trip. If you proceed with travel, ensure you are familiar with ways of reducing your risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Travellers arriving into the UK (including UK nationals) are now required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. These measures have been introduced to help protect against new strains of coronavirus circulating internationally.
The COVID-19 test must be undertaken a maximum of 72 hours prior to the scheduled time of departure. You will need to find a test provider that meets the required pre-departure test standards in the country you are departing.
- Failure to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test may result in denial of boarding and you could be fined on arrival.
This measure is in addition to the need to self isolate on return to the UK (see here) from countries not on the quarantine exemption (travel corridor) list.
Please see weblinks below for further details:
Before both your outbound and inbound journeys, you should check for any quarantine rules that you must follow on your return to the UK.
The 4 UK national governments issue official advice on self-isolation (quarantine) rules for individuals who are returning to the UK from overseas. These can change at short notice. Follow the links to each of the 4 nations below:
In England only: From 15th December 2020, you can choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test to reduce your self-isolation (quarantine) period under the 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test to Release for International Travel' scheme. See the FCDO website for further information.
Also see the UK Border control guidance on ‘Self-isolating when you arrive in the UK’ here.
- If the FCDO advise against travel to a country and you continue with your trip, your travel insurance may become invalid.
- If you already have travel insurance and the FCDO advise against travel after you have booked, you may be entitled to a full refund.
- Even with good travel insurance, you will need to follow the guidance of local public health authorities at all time, including self-isolating if you develop symptoms. This may mean your return home could be delayed.
- Be aware that some travel insurance policies may not cover any claims related to COVID-19.
- Contact your travel insurance provider if you have specific questions around what your policy covers.
Local healthcare at your destination may be impacted by COVID-19, this means that accessing medical care for any reason may be challenging. Before you travel, make sure that you know how to access health care at your destination:
- A list of doctors and medical facilities worldwide can be accessed on the FCDO website.
To reduce your risk of requiring medical care abroad, ensure that you are up to date with any recommended travel vaccinations, have antimalarial tablets if required, and that your health is in good condition before you travel.
- See the fitfortravel country page for your destination to determine if you need vaccinations or antimalarial tablets before you travel.
It is important to check with your travel agent or travel company ahead of planned travel if physical distancing, face coverings and additional hygiene precautionary measures have been implemented, and consider how these will affect you. Measures may include less people being able to travel on aircraft, buses or trains at any one time, and crowd control in transport hubs and airports.
- Expect delays and allow extra time for travel.
- Be prepared to queue or take different routes in and around stations and airports to comply with physical distancing measures.
- See the GOV.UK safer air travel guidance on sensible precautions and steps to take if you’re flying.
Make sure you plan ahead for your trip and consider packing plenty of snacks, particularly if you are travelling with children, or have any medical conditions such as diabetes.
- Shops and restaurants in airports and transport hubs may not be operating as normal, or may have restrictions in place.
- Food and drinks may not be available to purchase on board aircraft or other public transport during your trip.
You will need to comply with local public health authority guidelines at all times, in the UK and at your destination including with measures such as entry requirements, quarantine measures and possible testing for COVID-19. Consider how these may impact your trip.
Simple measures will help reduce your risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) during your trip.
Try to maintain physical distancing (1-2 meters) from others as much as possible
- Avoid time in crowded public areas and enclosed spaces, including elevators, cafes, bars, night clubs etc, as much as practically possible. You should comply with local guidance on physical distancing.
- Avoid the use of indoor gyms, swimming pools or exercise areas if physical distancing and hygiene measures are not in place.
- Only visit cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars if physical distancing is maintained. Consider using room service, or purchase take-away meals to eat in your room or other non-crowded areas.
- Walk or cycle where possible, and try to limit your use of shared transport.
You should pay strict attention to personal hygiene:
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, particularly before eating and drinking, after being in public areas, using public transport and using the toilet.
- Carry an alcohol based hand sanitiser, containing at least 60% alcohol, for use when soap and water is not immediately available. Remember this should be 100mls or less to comply with airport liquid/gel restrictions.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue and dispose of used tissues immediately in a waste bin.
- Wearing a face covering may be mandatory in some countries when in public. If it is not, consider wearing a face covering when physical distancing isn't possible in public areas or enclosed spaces.
- Purchase travel tickets online and use e-tickets and contactless payment where possible.
- Sanitise your tray table and arm rests on public transport with disinfectant wipes, remember to sanitise your hands afterwards.
Try to avoid:
- touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- sharing food, drinks and personal items such as mobile phones
- touching common surfaces such as handrails and doorknobs as much as possible
You must isolate yourself immediately if you become unwell during your trip with symptoms such as:
- a high temperature
- a new continuous cough
- a loss or change in taste or smell
If your symptoms become severe, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible. Follow the guidance of local public health authorities at all times to avoid spreading the virus.
You should follow the latest UK guidance on measures you need to take upon your return to the UK including instructions regarding self-isolation (quarantine).
- UK guidance, including links specific to each of the 4 UK nations, is available on GOV.UK website.
- Please note that the Test to Release for International Travel scheme to reduce your self-isolation period on return to the UK is only currently available for travellers returning to England.
You should proceed straight to your home or accommodation after you arrive back in the UK if you are required to self-isolate.
- Only use public transport if you have no other option; and wear a face covering if you do so.
- If you are unwell you should avoid public transport whenever possible.
You should follow the latest local coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the UK; further details can be found here:
If you develop any symptoms compatible with COVID-19 you should self-isolate immediately and follow the latest guidance, available on:
You may need to discuss with your employer before you return to work after travelling abroad.