Coronavirus: Foreign Travel & British Citizens Abroad

Updated 16th May 2020, 20:20. For the latest medical advice, visit NHS.uk/Coronavirus.

The Foreign Office is working with airlines to keep routes open, and calling for international action to keep routes open to enable British people to return home on a commercial flight. They are also working around the clock to support British travellers who are finding difficulties getting back to the UK. If you are a permanent resident overseas, you should stay and follow the advice of the local authorities in the country you live in.

Do not travel abroad unless essential. 

The Foreign Office advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice took effect from 17th March and currently applies indefinitely. The Coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict your travel without notice. 

To change or cancel your travel plans, follow these steps. 

  1. contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers
  2. get in touch with your insurance provider
  3. continue to follow the NHS coronavirus guidance

The Foreign Office was already advising against all but essential travel or all travel to some areas or countries due to risks that do not relate to COVID-19. This advice remains in place.

Check travel advice

If your travel it essential, it is your responsibility to make sure you check travel advice before travelling. Use the link above to check advice and sign up for email alerts. You should: 

  • Make sure you have the appropriate travel insurance. If you have concerns about coronavirus, contact your travel provider to check what will be covered should you become sick or are required to self-isolate or quarantine by the local authorities. 
  • Check with your airline, tour operator, cruise line, or other transport and accommodation providers for any coronavirus-related changes. 
  • Plan ahead for any potential disruption. 
  • If you are older, or have pre-existing medical conditions, you are likely to become severely ill if you catch coronavirus. You should check NHS guidance before travelling. 

Isolating arrivals at the border

Starting at the end of May, the government will be asking people travelling to the UK to make some sacrifices to stop coronavirus cases from being imported. In the same way as people in the UK have made large sacrifices to control the spread of coronavirus.

This means when people enter the UK, they will be asked to supply their contact details and details of their accommodation, and to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days, other than those on a short list of exemptions. Further details will be set out shortly. 

British Citizens stuck abroad

If you're travelling abroad at the moment, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises people to return to the UK now, if commercial flights are still available. International travel is still very limited, and new restrictions are being put in place. 

If you're travelling abroad, you should: 

1. Contact your airline or travel company now

2. Keep up to date with the Foreign Office travel advice pages.These pages will provide the latest updates on flights, and give you an email update when the pages are updated. 

Airlines now recognise that it is there responsibility for transporting their passengers with pre-booked tickets home, through offering alternative where routes are cancelled, allowing them to change tickets, where permissible - including between carriers - and offering them the latest information and advice as the situation changes. 

Where commercial flights exist, you should take these opportunities. Where commercial routes do not exist, the government will provide up to £75 million financial support to enable special charter flights - operated by the airlines above and others - to fly priority countries to bring back UK residents. 

Once special flights have been arranged, these will be promoted through the government’s travel advice and by the British embassy or high commission in country. British travellers who want a seat on the flight will book and pay directly through a dedicated travel management company.

Consular help

If you require consular assistance, you can contact them at any time by calling your nearest British embassy, high commission, or consulate.