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Preparing to travel abroad after the coronavirus lockdown

Posted on July 19, 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 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 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 your European destination but you need to make the journey, we can offer travel insurance for just that. Find out more about our European FCDO Travel Advice Extension add-on.

As of 17 May you’ll also need to be aware of the government’s red, amber and green list. The traffic light system tells travellers what they need to do when they return to the UK from abroad, it doesn’t tell you where you can go on holiday.

Checklist for before you travel

2. Check for destination entry requirements

As the world works to contain the spread of the virus, you may find specific COVID-19 entry requirements at your holiday destination. 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 PCR test packages.

5. Planning your return to the UK

Travel traffic light table to compare red, amber and green list requirements

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

Arriving from a green list country

If you have only been in or travelled through a green list country in the previous 10 days, you’ll need to:

  • Test negative for COVID-19 within the 72 hours before you travel to England
  • Complete a passenger locator form
  • Book and pay for a COVID-19 test to be taken on your second day back in England

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

Arriving from an amber list country

If you have been in or travelled through an amber list country in the previous 10 days, and are not fully vaccinated for COVID-19 you’ll need to:

  • Test negative for COVID-19 within the 72 hours before you travel to England
  • Complete a passenger locator form
  • Book and pay for two COVID-19 tests, to be taken on days two and eight of your self-isolation at home
  • Quarantine for 10 days at home, or the place you are staying

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

Fully vaccinated travellers won’t have to quarantine on return from amber list countries from 19 July 2021. But you will still need to complete pre-departure tests depending on your destination entry requirements, and day two testing on your return.

Arriving from a red list country

If you have been in or travelled through a red list country in the previous 10 days, you’ll only be allowed to enter the UK if you’re a British or Irish National, or have residence rights in the UK. If this is you, you’ll need to:

Different 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.

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.

While official vaccine passports, or Covid status certifications, are still being discussed by the government, the NHS app can be used as proof of vaccination, or whether you have recently tested negative for the virus.

The EU has not yet accepted the NHS Covid Pass as proof of vaccine, but some individual countries do, including Greece and Spain.

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

The app used in England shows proof of vaccination, a negative PCR or lateral flow test 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.

Information is correct at the time of publishing.

Go to previous – Chapter 4: What to expect when travelling
Go to next – Chapter 6: Does travel insurance cover me for COVID?
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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.