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, 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. These are listed in the 'Entry Requirements' section of the FCDO foreign travel advice pages.
Be aware that many countries are requesting evidence that you completed your COVID-19 vaccine course at least 14 days before arriving in their country.
A full course is currently two doses of the Moderna, AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine, or one dose of the Janssen single-dose vaccine.
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 to get NHS COVID Pass and demonstrate your coronavirus (COVID-19) status
- Scotland, you can get a record of your COVID-19 vaccination status from NHS Inform
- Wales, there is guidance to get the NHS COVID Pass to show your vaccination status for travel
- Northern Ireland, you can find guidance on obtaining a COVID certificate for NI residents
Make sure you check that the name on your proof of vaccination certificate matches the name on your passport, and contact your GP practice if this needs to be updated.
If you have not been fully vaccinated, you can continue to follow the entry requirements of the country you are travelling to, which may request showing proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken, usually in the three days before you travel; or having to undertake a period of quarantine on your arrival.
You should carefully research the requirements of your destination country before travelling in the FCDO foreign travel advice pages.
Your child may be exempt from testing and quarantine when travelling with fully vaccinated adults, or they may need to show a negative COVID-19 test result in order to be able to travel with you. Each country has different requirements and these are often dependant 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 as they are against the variants currently circulating in the UK.
The risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) in each country is determined by a comprehensive risk assessment process led by Public Health England 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 fitfortravel country page.
The country specific COVID-19 risk rating 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
Throughout the UK face coverings are recommended (and are still required in required in law in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) to be worn in enclosed spaces, such as on public transport, in shops, schools 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.
See the links below for the UK 4 nations guidance on face coverings: