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Preparing to travel abroad after the coronavirus lockdown

Posted on March 25, 2021 by Jason Davis
Airplane flies over airport departure sign

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

From carrying your EHIC or GHIC card to possible vaccine passports, don’t get caught out when travelling after lockdown.

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

1. Can you travel?

The first step is to find out if you can travel. Not only does this mean checking your destination is open and safe for travellers, but also 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.

It is recommended that you do not travel to the list of countries from which entry to the UK is banned, it’s sometimes called the ‘red list’.

You’ll also need to check the FCDO’s travel advice before booking, and once again before travelling, to see if there is a current ban on travel to and from your destination.

Airplane flies over airport departure sign

2. Check for destination entry requirements

With the travel industry changing the way they work to keep us and their staff as safe as possible, it’s important to be aware of the latest entry requirements for the destination you are travelling to.

Below are a few examples of requirements that may be in place:

  • Proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entry
  • Completed Public Health passenger locator form
  • Self-isolation at home for up to 10 days
  • Self-isolation at home for 5 days if you provide a negative covid test on the fifth day
  • 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 and relevant guidance.

We go into more detail about where and how you may travel in our travel guide chapter, ‘Where and when 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.

Recently, 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.

To be covered by your travel insurance, 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 medical emergencies and repatriation.

Checklist for travellers when returning from abroad during COVID

5. Planning your return to the UK

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

You’ll need to have a COVID-19 test booked and present a negative test result within three days of travelling back to the UK.

On top of this, you’ll also need to fill out a Public Health passenger locator form, within 48 hours of arriving in the UK. Upon landing, you’ll be asked to present this form alongside your negative COVID-19 test result.

Arrivals in England that have travelled in (the past 10 days), or from, a ‘red list’ country, will need to self-isolate in a government approved quarantine hotel for 10 days. You can use this online portal from the government website, administered by CTM to book a quarantine hotel package.

If you haven’t travelled in, or from, a country on the banned travel list, you may quarantine at home.

Similar rules are 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 or to find answers to any additional questions you may have.

6. Vaccine passports

Proposals have been put in place for a vaccine passport scheme that would allow users to access and show proof of having a COVID-19 vaccine.

With some countries and travel companies already announcing plans to only admit people with proof of a vaccination, a vaccine passport could offer easy access for someone to show their vaccine data.

For British nationals, there is a possibility the existing NHS app will be updated to include a digital passport feature. Currently, anyone who gets a COVID-19 vaccine will receive a vaccination card as physical evidence.

It’s still unclear whether the plans for digital vaccine passports will be going ahead in the near future.

Go to previous – Chapter 4: What to expect when travelling
Go to next – Chapter 6: 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.