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Preparing to travel abroad after the coronavirus lockdown

Posted on October 4, 2021 by Jason Davis
Airplane flies over airport departure sign

With FCDO and government advice changing regularly, travelling abroad takes a little more preparation than it once did.

From carrying your EHIC or GHIC card to proof of vaccination status, don’t get caught out when travelling after lockdown.

Here’s our handy checklist to help you prepare for your next holiday abroad.

Checklist for before you travel

1. Can you travel?

The first step to finding out if you can travel is to check that there aren’t any government enforced travel bans in your area. If there are restrictions in place, you may not be able to go.

The next step is to check the FCDO’s travel advice of your destination before you book, and then again before you travel. The FCDO will tell you if a destination is safe to travel to, or if they advise against ‘all’, or ‘all but essential’ travel.

If the FCDO advise against all but essential travel to a European destination but you need to make the journey, we can offer travel insurance for just that.

2. Check for destination entry requirements

Your holiday destination may have specific COVID-19 entry requirements. Some of these may include:

  • Proof of full vaccination
  • Proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entry
  • Completed Public Health passenger locator form
  • Self-isolation at home, or in the place you’re staying
  • Self-isolation in a government approved quarantine hotel for 10 days

To find out if any of these (or others) will apply to you, keep an eye on the FCDO’s travel advice page for up-to-date guidance.

We go into more detail about where you can travel in our travel guide chapter, ‘Where can I go on holiday?’.

3. Do you need an EHIC/GHIC?

When travelling in Europe, you will need an EHIC or GHIC card to cover you for emergency medical treatment. Carrying a valid card is a condition of your travel insurance policy with us.

The Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) has been announced as the replacement for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) post-Brexit. Find out more about the GHIC replacing the EHIC.

It’s worth noting the GHIC does not provide you with medical cover when travelling in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, like the EHIC used to.

If you are visiting those countries then the government recommends taking out travel insurance with health cover, just as you would when travelling outside of the EU.

4. Travel insurance

Cover your next holiday or trip by arranging travel insurance that includes cover for COVID-19.

To be covered by your travel insurance policy, you must not be travelling against any government enforced travel bans or travelling to a place that the FCDO have advised against travel to. Your policy will only be valid if it’s safe for you to go.

If you need to travel to Europe when the FCDO advises against ‘all but essential’ travel, you can add our FCDO Travel Advice Extension to your policy to be covered.

Find out more about buying a travel insurance policy that can cover coronavirus for coronavirus related cancellations, medical emergencies and repatriation.

When you take out a travel insurance policy with us, you can also get a discount of 10% on COVID-19 test packages.

5. Planning your return to the UK

Planning your trip home is just as important as planning to set off.

The new system for international travel sets out the rules to follow for your trip back to England.

Countries are split into two lists: the ‘red list’ and ‘rest of world’, and the rules for each list will depend on if you’re fully vaccinated or not.

We go into more detail about the new system for international travel here.

Requirements for travelling back to the UK

Arriving from a non-red list country

If you’re fully vaccinated:

If you have only been in or travelled through a country from the rest of world list, you’ll need to:

There is no need to quarantine if your result is negative.

If you’re not fully vaccinated:

You may be able to end quarantine earlier if you pay for a test through the ‘Test to Release’ scheme.

Arriving from a red list country

If you have been in or travelled through a red list country in the previous 10 days, regardless of vaccination status you’ll need to 

  • Take a pre-departure COVID-19 test 
  • Book a quarantine hotel package (including two COVID-19 tests) before you arrive in England.

Different rules may be in place for returning to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Visit our guide to travelling after the coronavirus lockdown to keep up to date with the latest information.

6. NHS Covid Pass and vaccine passports

Destinations around the world are slowly opening up to travellers who can prove they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

If your destination country needs proof of your vaccination or a negative test result, the NHS app can be used to share this information.

Adults in England can show proof of vaccination via the NHS app, or with a paper version by going online or by calling 119. Digital and paper versions are also available for residents of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The NHS Covid Pass used in England shows proof of vaccination, any negative PCR or lateral flow tests in the past 48 hours, along with any recovery from COVID-19.

In Europe, a Digital Covid Certificate is being rolled out across the EU’s 27 member nations, including Switzerland, Ireland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

While holiday hotspots like Spain, France and Greece have accepted the NHS Covid Pass as proof of vaccines, some EU countries have not. Be sure to check entry requirements of the country you’re visiting before travelling.

Go to previous – Chapter 3: What to expect when travelling
Go to next – Chapter 5: Does travel insurance cover me for COVID?
Explore – Go back to guide contents

Jason Davis

by Jason Davis

Jason Davis is Staysure's Senior Content Executive. As a specialist travel insurance provider, we aim to keep up-to-date with travel trends, all while offering tips on how to make the most of your holiday.