Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 can make anyone seriously unwell, but for some people the risk of serious illness is higher. This may be due to:
- your age
- having an underlying health condition
- taking specific regular medications
The FCDO foreign travel advice provides information on entry requirements for your destination, including if the country you are travelling to requires you to have a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter their country. There are different types of COVID-19 tests available and the reliability of results can vary depending on the type of test you take. Before travelling, you should check:
- if you need a negative COVID-19 test result to be able to enter the country you are travelling to
- what kind of test will be accepted by the country you are travelling to
- how soon before travel the test should be taken
COVID-19 testing for the purposes of international travel is not available on the NHS. Testing for this reason is only available through private providers who must have self-declared that they meet the UK Government’s minimum standards for the type of commercial COVID-19 testing service they offer.
If you need to travel internationally for work and require evidence of a test, you should speak to your employer or occupational health adviser.
Further information on available COVID-19 testing kits and their limitations, can be found in the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidance for patients, the public and professional users: a guide to COVID-19 tests and testing kits.
This depends on the entry requirements of the country or territory you want to travel to, as each country's definition of a 'full course' alternatively known as 'fully vaccinated', may be different.
- Always check the country 'Entry Requirements' section of the FCDO foreign travel advice pages to find out what a country will accept as fully vaccinated.
Be aware that some countries are requesting evidence that you completed your COVID-19 vaccine course at least 14 days before arriving in their country. They may also require evidence of a booster dose depending on how long ago you completed your COVID-19 vaccine course.
How you can get proof of your vaccination status varies on where you live. If you are in:
- England, the UK government has provided guidance for using your NHS COVID Pass for travel abroad
- Scotland, you can get a record of your COVID-19 vaccination status from NHS Inform
- Wales, there is guidance on how to get the NHS COVID Pass to prove you are vaccinated against COVID-19
- Northern Ireland, you can find guidance on how to apply for a travel COVID vaccination certificate
Make sure you check that the name on your proof of vaccination certificate matches the name on your passport. Advice on how to amend incorrect details varies depending on whether you are in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland or Wales.
If you have not been fully vaccinated, you can continue to follow the entry requirements of the country you are travelling to. Entry requirements requested by other countries may include:
- requiring a negative COVID-19 test result before you depart from the UK
- requiring you to undertake a period of quarantine upon your arrival to that country
You should carefully research the entry requirements of your destination country before travelling in the FCDO foreign travel advice pages.
I need to have a negative COVID-19 test to travel abroad but I’m worried it might be positive as I’ve recently had COVID-19. What should I do?
Firstly, you should check what the exact requirements are to enter the country you plan to visit. Some countries might accept proof of previous COVID-19 infection. If this is accepted, you must ensure that you provide this proof in a way that is acceptable to the country you are visiting. This information can be found on the entry requirements section of each specific country page of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website.
If the country you are entering stipulates that you need to have a negative COVID-19 test, you should check whether this must be a PCR or lateral flow device (LFD) test.
- A LFD test is less likely to return a false positive result from a recent COVID-19 infection.
- You must make sure that the LFD test you use meets the minimum standards required for the country you are entering.
How do I get a 'fit to fly certificate' or 'COVID-19 clearance letter' if I am travelling and have recently recovered from COVID-19?
Some countries may be requesting documented evidence of previous COVID-19 infection as an alternative to a negative COVID-19 test as an entry requirement. If this is requested, you must ensure what type of documentation and evidence is acceptable to the country you are entering and also airline you are travelling with.
- Be aware that certificates proving you have been recently infected with COVID-19 (sometimes known as COVID-19 recovery certificates or fitness to fly certificates) are not available via your NHS GP or via the NHS.
- Some private companies offer to issue COVID-19 recovery certificates for a fee, if you can provide evidence of a recent positive COVID-19 test – you must liaise with the private company directly to find out more about this option, and ensure their certificate is accepted by your airline and also the country you are travelling to.
In addition, if you live in:
- England or Wales: the NHS COVID pass app now shows details of your COVID-19 test results in addition to your vaccination records within the QR code. You'll need to check if this type of documentation would be accepted as evidence of previous infection by your airline and destination country.
- Scotland: the NHS COVID status app shows details of any positive PCR test results. You’ll need to check if this would be accepted by your airline and destination country as evidence of previous infection.
- Northern Ireland: see the guidance on COVID recovery certificates
Each country has different requirements, and these are often dependent on the age of the child. Always check the entry requirements for the country you're visiting.
It is possible, as no vaccine is 100% effective. Even if you have completed your course of vaccinations, you should continue to take recommended precautions during travel such as regular handwashing and physical distancing measures to avoid infection. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, but the symptoms should be less severe.
There is also the potential risk of being exposed to new variants of COVID-19 while you are abroad. The vaccine may not be as effective against new variants of COVID-19.
The risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) in each country is determined by a comprehensive risk assessment process led by UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) who work in conjunction with the public health bodies of the UK devolved nations.
- Changes to the COVID-19 risk for UK travellers are continually updated and details can be found in the 'Alerts' section on each country page which will highlight the risk of exposure to COVID-19, including if this is a high risk.
- The 'News' section on each country page will highlight if there has been significant case increases or outbreaks and/or emerging or known variants of coronavirus (COVID-19) in a country.
The country specific COVID-19 risk is a guide to the risk of exposure for UK travellers and should always be considered alongside the latest FCDO foreign travel advice.
The most important way to protect yourself is by:
- maintaining physical distancing (so coughs and sneezes can't reach your face)
- keeping your hands clean
- avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with hands that are not clean
Face coverings mainly reduce the risk of you passing coronavirus (COVID-19) to other people, especially when it isn't possible to keep physically distanced. This is because you may shed the virus in coughs and sneezes before you start to feel ill. Remember that some people can have COVID-19 and never feel ill. The face covering catches the coughs and sneezes and so stops the virus landing directly on other people's faces or on surfaces that other people might touch. The face covering may stop other peoples' coughs and sneezes landing directly in your nose or mouth, but would not stop it landing in your eyes.
A face covering should:
- safely cover your nose and mouth
- fit securely around the side of your face
- be made from cloth or other textiles, 2 to 3 layers thick that you can breathe easily through
- clean your hands, before and after putting on your face covering or if you have to adjust it
- avoid touching your face and face covering and clean your hands if you do
- if you can, use cloth face coverings that can be re-used rather than single use, disposable face coverings
- replace your face covering if it becomes wet or dirty
In the UK, face coverings are still recommended to be worn in some enclosed spaces, such as on public transport, healthcare settings and other public areas. Similar rules may apply in other countries and you should comply with the local public health authority guidelines in the country that you are visiting.