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COVID-19: Health Considerations for Travel

Please be aware that as of 4 October 2021, the current traffic light system for travellers returning to the UK is set to be simplified. See the UK government website for further information on how this may affect you if you will arrive back in the UK on or after this date. 

Introduction

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has severely disrupted international travel. Many countries are restricting entry for UK travellers.

Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales each have specific guidance on coronavirus restrictions including those relating to international travel.

  • You should always follow the guidance for the country you live in, or will be arriving in.

Official guidance can change at short notice and this may impact planned travel. Countries can lift or implement travel bans or quarantine measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

  • You must comply with local public health authority guidelines in the country that you are visiting.

Before Travel

You should carefully review and follow all of the guidance below if you are planning to travel internationally. Be aware that guidance is updated regularly and can change between booking or planning your trip, and your departure.

1. Read the FCDO foreign travel guidance

The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) provides the latest official travel information on whether you are advised to avoid travelling to a country and what the COVID-19 entry requirements for each country are.

You must check the entry requirements section of the FCDO country page you are travelling to.

  • Even if the FCDO permits travel, this does not guarantee your destination country will let you in.

The FCDO country page will help you decide if you need to do any of the following:

2. Review the traffic light system guidelines on returning to the UK

The UK Government have a traffic light system which sets out different testing and quarantine (self-isolation) requirements for anyone entering the UK from abroad.

  • From 4 October 2021, the traffic light system will be changing, see the UK government website for further information.
  • Be aware that different rules apply in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland or Wales. You should always check and follow the rules for the UK country which you live in.
  • You have to comply with the rules relating to the countries you have visited in the 10 days before returning to the UK.

Be prepared to make some arrangements before you travel so you can comply with the traffic light system rules on your return, such as:

Each country is currently rated as being:

  • Red (high risk, hotel quarantine and COVID-19 testing needed on return to UK)
  • Amber (moderate risk, COVID-19 testing needed on return to UK, with or without home quarantine, depending on your vaccination status and country visited)
  • Green (lowest risk, COVID-19 testing needed on return to UK)

3. Check your Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) at your destination

The risk of exposure to COVID-19 in every country is listed on the fitfortravel destination pages under the 'alerts' section.

Prior to booking any travel:

4: Consider other health issues

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
  • are in good health before you travel

You can review the relevant fitfortravel country page for up to date travel health recommendations, advice on health risks to be aware of at your destination, and to check if you may need to consider vaccinations or antimalarial tablets before you travel.

You should not travel if you are 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 at entry or exit screening at airports, during your flight, or when crossing borders.

5: Make sure your travel insurance will cover your trip

Travel insurance is essential. You should always check your policy for exclusions as some may not cover claims related to COVID-19.

  • If the FCDO advise against travel to a country and you continue with your trip, your travel insurance may become invalid.
  • Contact your travel insurance provider if you have specific questions around what your policy covers.

During Travel

Check with your travel agent or travel company ahead of planned travel what physical distancing and precautionary hygiene measures have been implemented, and consider how these will affect you.

  • 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.
  • Check the GOV.UK Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer air travel guidance on safety precautions 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 need to be pre-ordered or may be unavailable to purchase on board aircraft or other public transport during your trip.

Take a COVID-19 test at your destination prior to returning to the UK

When you are arriving into the UK (including UK nationals) you are required to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, taken in the 3 days before starting your journey to the UK. This helps protect against new strains of coronavirus being brought into the UK. Failure to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test may result in denial of boarding, or you could be fined upon your arrival in the UK.

You will need to find a test provider in the country you are departing, that meets the required pre-departure test standards for Scotland, England, Northern Ireland or Wales.

After Travel

You must follow the UK Border Force rules for entering the UK.

The latest guidance on testing and quarantine measures upon your return to the UK is determined by the traffic light system and the countries you have been in the previous 10 days.

Travelling from the airport

If you are required to quarantine at a managed quarantine hotel, you will be transported to your quarantine hotel from the airport as part of the quarantine package which you booked.

  • Consider if you may need to extend your airport parking and pay any additional charges.

If you are required to quarantine at home, you should proceed straight to your home or accommodation from the airport.

  • Only use public transport if you have no other option; and keep your distance from other passengers, wear a face covering and sanitise your hands regularly.
  • If you are unwell you should avoid public transport whenever possible.

Test to Release 
The Test to Release for International Travel scheme to reduce your self-isolation period on return to the UK is only available for travellers returning to England.

UK COVID-19 restrictions
Once back in the UK, you should follow the latest local COVID-19 restrictions for Scotland, England, Northern Ireland or Wales.

If you develop any symptoms compatible with COVID-19 you should self-isolate immediately and follow the latest guidance for Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

You may need to discuss with your employer before you return to work after travelling abroad.

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