Covid-19 Travel: Your Questions Answered

Added 05/10/2021

We are pleased to say that international travel is getting easier again, for those that are fully vaccinated at least. 

Travelling to another country is still more complicated than it used to be, but those who are doing it are finding that any extra hassle (tests and proving vaccination status) is well worth it.

We’ve put together some common questions and answers to help those of you who are planning a holiday to find the up-to-date information you need.

Please note: This information was correct at the time of writing.  We recommend you check the latest information on the government website before booking a holiday and travelling. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-abroad-from-england-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Where can I travel to for a holiday now?

If you are fully vaccinated or under 18 the number of countries you can travel to without having to self-isolate are ever increasing.

There are 2 elements to check before deciding on a particular destination: 

  1. The entry requirements for the country you want to visit.

Will you be allowed entry and what testing, or proof of vaccination will be required?
Check the latest advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO):
 https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

  1. The rules for returning to the UK.  

Although the traffic light system has now been scrapped you will still want to check that your destination is not on the red list.   Returning to the UK from a country on the red list will require you to complete 10 days quarantine at a government approved hotel.

Check the red list:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-list-of-countries-and-territories

If you are unvaccinated, you can still travel to countries that are not on the red list, but you will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days when you return.

Can I go anywhere that is not on the red list?

Not necessarily, you will need to check the entry requirements and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice for your preferred destination.  

In some cases, a country is not on the red list but they still do not allow entry to UK holiday makers.

There are also a small number of countries which are not on the red list, which the FCDO still advises UK travellers not to visit, either for Covid-19 or other reasons.

Your tour operator is unlikely to take you to a destination to which the FCDO advises against all or all but essential travel and most travel insurance policies, including Goodtogoinsurance.com, will not be valid it you travel against FCDO advice.

Always check the latest FCDO advice before you book your holiday and before you travel:
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Where can I book for 2022?

If you are planning a holiday for next year, the world is your oyster, hopefully!

Many tour operators are taking bookings for destinations which we currently cannot travel to without quarantine in the assumption that those rules will have changed by the time the trip comes round.

If you do want to book a holiday for next year, make sure you are aware of the terms and conditions if the trip can’t go ahead due to the pandemic.  On the whole tour operators are being very flexible and would offer to either change the dates or destination according to your preference. Do check before you book.

How can I check the entry requirements for my destination?

It is very important to check the rules of entry for your chosen destination.  Remember, not all non-red list countries will allow visitors from the UK.  

You may be required to take a Covid-19 test before departure for your destination and/or provide proof of vaccination to gain entry.

Travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for your destination will give an overview of the rules and provide links to further information if necessary.

Visit this website and search by country: 
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

What are the rules for returning to the UK?

Now that the traffic light system has been scrapped the rules for returning to the UK are much simpler and essentially focused around whether you are fully vaccinated or not.

Here is a summary of the rules for England, the other nations of the UK fall broadly in line with this, but you should check the details.

Rules for returning from non-red list countries: (fully vaccinated)

If you are fully vaccinated, under 18 and resident in the UK, or unable to be vaccinated for approved medical reasons the following rules apply.

Before you return to England you must:
-    book and pay for a day 2 Covid-19 test – to be taken when you arrive back in England.  
-    complete a passenger locator form. You will need to enter your Covid-19 test booking reference number on your form.

When you arrive back in England there is no requirement to isolate unless your day 2 Covid-19 test is positive.
Currently the day 2 Covid-19 test must be a PCR, but the government has indicated that it will relax this requirement to a cheaper lateral flow test later this month.

Rules for returning from non-red list countries: (unvaccinated)

If you have not completed a full course of vaccination, the following rules apply:

Before you return to England you must:
-    take a Covid-19 test – to be taken in the 3 days before you travel to England
-    book and pay for day 2 and day 8 Covid-19 tests – to be taken when you arrive back in England.  
-    complete a passenger locator form. You will need to enter your Covid-19 test booking reference number on your form.

When you arrive back in England you must quarantine (self-isolate) at home for 10 days and take your day 2 and day 8 Covid-19 tests.

Returning from a red list country

If you are returning from a red list country you are required to quarantine in a government approved hotel, regardless of your vaccination status.

The rules do vary between the different nations of the UK, you can check the full details for each country here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-england-from-another-country-during-coronavirus-covid-19
https://gov.wales/rules-international-travel-and-wales-coronavirus
https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-international-travel-quarantine/
https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-advice

What counts as fully vaccinated?

The gov.uk website gives the following definition of fully vaccinated:

Fully vaccinated means that you have had a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in England. The day you had your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days.

The vaccine must have been administered as part of the UK vaccination programme or in an approved country.

The fully vaccinated rules also apply to you if you:

  • are under 18 and resident in the UK or one of the approved countries
  • are taking part in an approved Covid-19 vaccine trial in the UK or the USA (US residents only for USA trials)
  • cannot have a Covid-19 vaccination for a medical reason which has been approved by a clinician under the new medical exemptions process, and you are resident in England

More information on approved vaccinations:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/countries-with-approved-covid-19-vaccination-programmes-and-proof-of-vaccination

How do I prove my vaccination status?

Proving your vaccination status is easy.  The standard NHS app shows details of your vaccinations, and you can use this to generate the QR code that you need for entry to other countries.   

If you don’t have access to the app, you can obtain a letter to prove your status by calling 119 or completing a form on the NHS website.

Full details can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-covid-pass

Will I need to do a test before I leave the UK?

That depends on the entry requirements for your destination.  

Check the FCDO advice for your destination country:
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Will I need to do a test when I return to the UK?

If you are fully vaccinated, you will need to take one Covid-19 test within 2 days of your arrival back in the UK.

If you are unvaccinated you will need to take the following tests:
-    pre-departure test within 3 days of your departure for the UK
-    day 2 and day 8 Covid-19 tests when you arrive back in the UK

These tests need to be booked and paid for before you return to the UK and the details entered on your passenger locator form.

More information on testing before you travel to the UK:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-testing-for-people-travelling-to-england

More information about booking tests: 
https://www.gov.uk/find-travel-test-provider

Is my passport valid?

It is likely to be some time since you last went abroad, so it’s worth checking the expiry date on your passport plenty of time before you travel.

To make things more complicated, since Brexit, there are new rules for passport validity if you are travelling to the EU. Your passport must have at least 3 months to run from the day of your return and have been issued less than 10 years ago.  

You can use this tool to check whether your passport will be valid:
https://www.gov.uk/check-a-passport-travel-europe

I’m going to an EU country, has anything changed since Brexit?

Yes.  There are new rules for UK travellers to the EU, including passport validity, access to healthcare, taking a vehicle or pet, and travelling with food and drink products.

Full details: https://www.gov.uk/visit-eu-switzerland-norway-iceland-liechtenstein

How can I find out about Covid-19 restrictions at my holiday destination?

It is important to be aware of any rules or restrictions at your destination and to follow them. Check the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for your chosen country.  They provide specific, up-to-date advice for each country.

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

If you scroll to the bottom of the page you can register for email alerts when travel advice changes.

Are there delays at passport control coming back into the UK?

Although there have been a few reports of delays at Heathrow, overall, there doesn’t seem to be any particular problem. This is because the additional checks have been outsourced to airline, rail and ferry staff, who are required to check that your paperwork is all in place before allowing you to board.

What about travel insurance?

The FCDO advise you to have travel insurance in place for all trips abroad, and it is important to understand what cover you have in place with regards to covid-19/coronavirus.

All policies from Goodtogoinsurance.com provide cover for emergency medical treatment and repatriation if you contract covid-19 whilst you are abroad.

Our Covid+ policies also include cover for cancellation if you are unable to travel because you contracted covid-19 within 14 days of your departure date. (This includes a positive pre-travel test).

Full details on our travel insurance cover for covid-19 >>