Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions
Am I at increased risk of becoming seriously unwell from COVID-19?
Respiratory infections including 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
- not being vaccinated
- having an underlying health condition
- taking specific regular medications
Further information about those at increased risk of severe COVID-19 is available:
How do I know if I need a negative COVID-19 test to travel abroad?
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(s) will be accepted by the country you are travelling to (e.g., PCR or lateral flow device (LFD) test)
- how long a time before travelling the test(s) 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-related reasons 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.
Can I travel internationally if I have completed a 'full course' of the COVID-19 vaccine?
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 the authorities in some countries are requesting evidence that you completed your COVID-19 vaccine course at least 14 days before arriving in the country. They may also require evidence of a booster dose depending on how long ago you completed your COVID-19 vaccine course.
How can I prove my vaccination status to travel abroad?
How you can apply for proof of your vaccination status varies with where in the UK you live. Further information is available in the links below for:
Make sure you check that the name on your proof of vaccination certificate matches exactly the name on your passport.
- Information on how to amend incorrect details varies depending on whether you are in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
What happens if I have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, can I still travel abroad?
If you have not been fully vaccinated, you need 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
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 the 'entry requirements' of the country you are travelling to. 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.
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 the 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 may 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, ensuring their certificate is accepted by your airline and also the country you are travelling to.
In addition, if you live in:
- Scotland: Proof of recovery is no longer available on the NHS COVID status app.
- England or Wales: the NHS COVID pass app may show proof of recovery from prior COVID-19 infection for those who have tested positive with an NHS PCR test in the last 180 days. You'll need to check if this type of documentation would be accepted as evidence of previous infection by your airline and destination country.
- Northern Ireland: see the guidance on COVID recovery certificates
Can my children travel with me if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19?
Always check the entry requirements for the country you're visiting, as vaccination requirements may be dependent on the age of the child and will differ between countries.
Can I still catch COVID-19 abroad if I have been fully vaccinated?
It is possible, as no vaccine is 100% effective and new variants of the COVID-19 virus appear from time to time. 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.
How can I reduce my risk of exposure to COVID-19 during travel
There is an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 when travelling in enclosed shared spaces, such as on trains, buses and aircraft, due to the close proximity of people.
To help reduce your risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) during your trip, follow these simple measures:
Try to maintain physical distancing (1-2 meters) from others as much as possible, particularly if you find yourself in crowded public areas and enclosed spaces, including elevators, cafes, bars, night clubs.
- Always comply with local guidance on physical distancing.
- Consider wearing a face covering in crowded public areas, including transport.
Pay strict attention to your personal hygiene:
- Wash your hands frequently, 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.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue. Dispose of used tissues immediately in a waste bin.
- 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, remembering 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
If you become unwell during your trip with symptoms of COVID-19, you should isolate yourself from others to avoid spreading the virus.
- If your symptoms become severe, seek medical advice as soon as possible.
- Follow the guidance of local public health authorities at all times.
How is the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in my destination country determined?
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.
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.
Does wearing a face covering stop me catching coronavirus (COVID-19)?
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, it is recommended to consider wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, such as on public transport, healthcare settings or 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.