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What you need to know about travelling during the coronavirus pandemic

an image of someone packing a face mask into their suitcase when preparing to go on holiday

With holiday guidelines changing a lot at the moment, we’ve done our best to cover what you need to know about travelling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Keep reading to learn more from our guide, like where you can go and what you need to remember when you next go away.

Can I travel in the UK right now?

You can travel within the UK without restrictions, unless you’ve been told to self-isolate, have tested positive for Covid-19, or have symptoms and are waiting for a test result.

All types of holiday accommodation across the UK are open and there are no social distancing measures in place, which means you can stay with people you don’t live with.

Those travelling to the Scottish islands (three days before travel and on the day of departure) or Northern Ireland (before you travel and when you arrive) are advised to take lateral flow tests before travelling.

Where can I go abroad?

Before you go away, you’ll need to check the FCDO advice and any entry requirements for the countries you’d like to visit.

FCDO travel advice

When it comes to the FCDO, there are two levels of travel advice that can stop your holiday in its tracks: advice against ‘all travel’ and advice against ‘all but essential travel’.

Travel providers often make decisions on whether holidays can go ahead based on the FCDO’s advice, which means your holiday could be rearranged or cancelled for countries with advice against ‘all’ or ‘all but essential’ travel.

FCDO advice can also affect if your travel insurance will cover your trip. Look at our European FCDO Travel Advice Extension to find out how we can cover you against ‘all but essential’ travel advice.

Entry requirements

Naturally, entry requirements differ from country to country. They’re going to depend on where you’re travelling from, the status of the pandemic in your destination, and personal details about yourself like negative tests and vaccinations.

The FCDO has a helpful guide on the entry requirements for all countries around the world.

Traffic light system

From 4 October 2021, the green and amber lists will merge to create the ‘rest of world’ list. The red list will stay as it is.

For the rest of world list, different restrictions will apply depending on whether you’ve been fully vaccinated or not.

Rest of world, fully vaccinated:

  • Take a PCR test on your second day back in the UK

Rest of world, unvaccinated:

  • Pre-departure PCR test
  • PCR test on day two and day eight back in the UK
  • Self-isolate in your home for 10 days on return
  • Test to Release scheme available

Red list (regardless of vaccine status):

  • Take a test within 72 hours before travelling back
  • Stay in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days (extended with positive test)
  • Take a test on day two and day eight of quarantine

an image of the new traffic light guidelines for travel back into the UK

Changes to travelling

If you haven’t travelled for a while, you might be wondering what to look out for. Luckily, most of the changes are just what we’ve become used to in our day to day lives.

Temperature checks, face coverings, increased hygiene measures, and social distancing may all apply when travelling.

These measures are just there to help keep everyone safe, and there should be plenty of information – whether that’s signs for one way systems, or to remind you to wear a mask – if you get stuck.

Keep in mind that travelling may also be different depending on which country you’re in since most will have their own guidelines.

Your method of travel can also have an effect, for example, many cruise lines require both their passengers and staff to be fully vaccinated in order to board.


The restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated and those who aren’t are different in many places, including when travelling back to the UK.

It’s also really important that you can prove your vaccination status. You may find that you are classed as unvaccinated if you can’t prove that you’ve had both doses, which could lead to increased restrictions on your travel.

Last things to check

Many of us haven’t been abroad for a while, so before you go ahead and book your next holiday, there are a few things that you might need to brush up on.

First of all, read up on how Brexit has affected travel. You might need to apply for a GHIC if your EHIC is expired or you’ve never had one, and you should make sure you have at least six months left on your passport before going away.

Finally, travel insurance is more important now than ever, so don’t forget to get a policy that suits your needs and where you’re going. Our Covid Cover can help you leave the worry at home on your next holiday.

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