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UK travel restrictions: Can I travel from the UK?

Posted on March 25, 2021 by Ria Wong
an image of Tower Bridge in London at night from the view of a plane window

The UK entered the year with even tougher travel restrictions than anyone had predicted.

To help you plan for travel in 2021, let’s take a look at the restrictions and what to look out for so you can decide if your destination is a red, amber or green light for travel.

When can you travel infographic

Red – full stop to travel, you will not be able to go

Government restrictions

The government has banned all travel from England apart from a few exceptions such as work purposes (it’s important to remember our policies don’t cover any work-related trips).

It’s a similar story for those living in Wales (travel for essential reasons only), Northern Ireland (avoid unnecessary travel) and Scotland (if you live in level three or four areas you should avoid unnecessary travel).

How do you know which countries are a red light for travel?

Before travelling, you’ll need to check the government’s travel advice on the destination you plan to visit. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website details the latest information on COVID-19, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.

If the FCDO advise against ‘all travel’ you will not be able to travel to that country. If advice is against ‘all but essential travel’ you may be able to travel under some circumstances – see the Amber section below.

What to do if you’re planning on travelling:

  • If you already have a trip booked you’ll need to speak to your travel provider to see how they can help. They may be able to change the dates of your holiday, or offer you a refund.

Amber – You may be able to travel under certain circumstances

Travel is not impossible under an amber light, but you may need to qualify for travel or fulfil certain entry requirements.

The FCDO may advise against ‘all but essential travel’ to your chosen destination – but the choice is ultimately yours to make. Find out what the FCDO means by ‘essential travel’.

Travel corridors

‘Travel corridors’ is a list of countries the government says you can travel to and from without needing to quarantine when you arrive home.

If your destination is not on the list of approved travel corridors you may still choose to travel there – but you may need to quarantine on arrival home.

However, all travel corridors are currently suspended indefinitely as of 18 January 2021. See the latest news on Coronavirus travel corridors.

How do you know which countries are an amber light for travel?

As well as paying attention to the UK’s own travel advice, you’ll need to take a look at your destination’s guidance. They may have entry restrictions in place, such as having to quarantine on arrival, which could scupper holiday plans if you’re only intending to stay for a week or two.

Your destination country may also only be allowing entry to travellers arriving for ‘essential reasons’, not tourism. So double-check you will be OK to fly before heading off.

What to do if you’re planning on travelling:

  • Make sure there is no national government travel ban in place.
  • Check the FCDO’s advice is against ‘all but essential travel’ rather than ‘all travel’.
  • Keep up-to-date with your destination’s local government advice, safety guidelines and entry requirements.
  • Find out what you need to know about leaving the UK and returning to the UK.
  • Does your travel insurance cover you for the latest travel guidance? Our European FCDO Travel Advice Extension offers protection, even when the FCDO advises against ‘all but essential travel’.

Green – Travel is OK

Great news! You’re free to go ahead and book your trip if your destination:

However, because of the global pandemic, you are likely to still need to tick a few boxes ahead of travelling.

What to do if you’re planning on travelling:

  • Double-check the guidance for your destination country to make sure there have been no last-minute changes to entry requirements or quarantine rules.
  • Find out what you need to know about leaving the UK and returning to the UK.
  • Don’t forget that some destinations – such as China, Thailand, Egypt, Turkey and now the EU – require six-month validity on your passport. So check your passport expiry date before booking your holiday.

Our advice for all holidaymakers is to keep on top of the very latest travel advice – double-check the situation when you book, and then again before you travel.

Go to next – Chapter 2: Where can I go on holiday now?
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Ria Wong

by Ria Wong

Ria Wong is Staysure’s Content Manager. She’s keen on long weekends away to places with good food, and enjoys a spot of DIY!