Information is changing every day which can make it hard to keep up with the facts that are most relevant to you. We’re continually keeping this page up to date regarding the current coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, and what impact it might have on your travel plans. So whether you need it now, or in the near future, it’s worth a bookmark.
We strongly recommend reading the coronavirus travel advice from your local authorities and governments, such as the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), as well as the guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO).
This page was last updated on 18 December 2021. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication.
Coronavirus travel restrictions and bans
On 6 January, the UK went into a national lockdown. While there are slightly different rules for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the principles are the same: a stay-at-home order is in place and residents cannot travel domestically or internationally until mid-February at the earliest.
In response to the rapid surge in new-variant infections, many countries have closed their borders to UK travellers. On 23 December, the UK banned travel from South Africa to the UK in response to another virus variant that’s spreading there. And on 15 January, the UK banned arrivals from Latin America and Portugal in response to a new variant detected in Brazil.
Post-lockdown, you can legally go on holiday abroad if your region goes down to tiers 1 or 2. However, holidays are effectively off the cards until the spring, while local lockdowns and travel bans are in place.
Coronavirus tests and travel
From 18 January, the UK government has closed all travel corridors until at least 15 February. In addition, all international arrivals to the UK will have to test negative for COVID-19, taken up to 72 hours before departure. This includes UK nationals, with the exception of hauliers, airline staff, passengers from the Common Travel Area with Ireland and children under 11.
Both LAMP and PCR tests are valid, but failure to comply results in a £500 fine, and spot checks will be carried out.
All arrivals have to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their test result. However, under the ‘test to release’ initiative, the 10-day quarantine period can reduce to just five days provided that you test negative for COVID-19 five days after arriving back, purchased privately.
Arrivals need to quarantine for five days and then pay to take a COVID test, either at home or a testing centre. The tests cost between £65 and £120 and results come back within 24-48 hours, so realistically the quarantine period is only reduced by a couple of days, to seven or eight.
On arrival in the UK
As well as presenting a negative COVID test, it is compulsory for every arrival into the UK to fill in a passenger locator form before they enter the country. You can fill this in online. It includes your passport and travel details, UK address and booking reference number and the name of the test provider, if you’re using Test to Release. You might be fined if you haven’t filled out the form by the time you reach the UK border.
COVID vaccine news UK
On 7 December, the UK became the first western country to start rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine. Now, both the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out to the British public, starting with frontline workers and the most vulnerable groups.
The coronavirus vaccine should have been made available to all by autumn 2021, although staying at home for the next few weeks is imperative to quashing the virus locally and relieving as much pressure as possible on the NHS. It’s also, in the long run, the quickest way for us to get back to what we love best: travel.
If all vulnerable people are vaccinated by Easter, a more normal summer next year (and perhaps post-coronavirus travel plans) looks increasingly likely. According to our research, the news of a COVID vaccine in the UK has resulted in 41% of the population feeling increased confidence in the prospect of travelling abroad within the next six months.*
*The survey for Skyscanner was carried out among 2,152 adults by AudienceNet between 27 and 29 November 2020.
Government travel advice
From Monday 16 January, the UK government will close all ‘travel corridors’ until 15 February, earliest. This means that the FCDO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel, and all passengers must quarantine for 10 days on arrival in the UK (or five days, with a negative COVID test taken on day five).
To keep an eye on which countries are open to the UK, you can visit our map with the latest travel restrictions. Remember that travel for holidays is not permitted from tiers 3 or 4 in England, and all of mainland Britain is currently under these restrictions.
Some ‘travel bubbles’ are being considered. These would allow reciprocal open borders between certain countries. For example, there’s a proposed Trans-Tasman bubble between Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania and the Pacific Island.
Coronavirus travel bans and restrictions by country
To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, many countries have placed entry restrictions on travellers or closed their borders entirely. If you’re travelling during this period, it’s important to be updated on entry requirements so you won’t run into customs issues at the airport.
At the moment, borders in some 40 countries are closed to UK travellers. Some require proof of a negative COVID test on arrival. Travellers from many popular holiday destinations including Belgium, Croatia, France, Spain and the Netherlands must quarantine for 10 days on arrival back in the UK, or opt for the test to release scheme and reduce their quarantine to five days.
Since 12 January, if you arrive in England from the United Arab Emirates, you need to self-isolate. On16 January, Aruba, Bonaire/St Eustatius/Saba, and Qatar were added to this list.
Can I travel within the UK?
Currently, no. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are all under lockdown, prohibiting domestic holidays. Travel between their respective borders is banned, unless for essential reasons.
How does the COVID-19 outbreak impact travel within Europe and to the rest of the world? Check out our global map page to find out the latest travel restrictions from the UK to the rest of the world:
Latest information on coronavirus travel and flight cancellations
Countries have imposed travel restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak, and some 40 countries have imposed travel bans from the UK since the news broke of a new variant of the coronavirus, in London and southeast England, on 20 December. Check the FCDO website for daily updates on specific destinations.
To find out about specific airline route information, as well as current coronavirus flight cancellations, rebooking or refund policies, you can find all the latest news and travel updates on their websites or check with the International Air Travel Association. While flights are being cancelled more regularly than usual, it’s likely that you won’t be entitled to a refund if your flight is not cancelled but you can’t fly due to the lockdown.
Some flights are still running, although those in operation are exercising social distancing and mandatory mask wearing. Quarantine on arrival often applies as well as other measures such as temperature checks. Check the entry criteria for each destination before travelling, on the IATA information page.
- Ryanair: If your flight gets cancelled due to coronavirus you will be given the option to request a travel voucher or refund via their refund application form, but those who choose not to fly due to FCDO rules on flights that are running will not be eligible for a refund. You can change your flight with no change fee.
- easyJet: If the airline cancels your booking, you will be offered a voucher for the value of your ticket plus a booking incentive valid until September 2021, or you can apply for a cash refund. You can change your flight with no fee up to 14 days before departure.
- Jet2: The airline has cancelled all flights and holidays until mid-February. Customers whose travel plans are affected by these cancellations will be given an automatic, full refund. Any ontacted by the customer services team to either rebook with no fee, arrange refund credit or opt for a full refund.
- Wizz Air: If your flight gets cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions you will be offered a refund or credit for a future flight. You can rebook to an alternative destination provided it is not subject to travel restrictions.
- Emirates: If your flight is cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, you can request a refund or complete a Travel Voucher request form to re-book your flight up to 24 months later.
- Norwegian: Norwegian Airlines is operating a limited flight schedule until further notice. If your flight is cancelled you will receive confirmation via SMS and email. You can request a refund of your unused ticket, or opt for flight credit and get an extra 20% towards a future trip.
- TUI: TUI has cancelled all holidays until mid-February, with all impacted customers receiving an automatic refund or given the option to rebook.
- KLM: Existing bookings can be rebooked free of charge for travel until 30 June 2021. Refund and rebooking options differ depending on when the flight was booked and scheduled for departure.
- Virgin Atlantic: If you want to change your booking, you can rebook for travel up to 30 September 2022. If your flight is cancelled, you will be contacted to discuss refund and rebooking options, and your ticket will automatically be kept open as credit to use up to 31 May 2022.
- Vueling Airlines: You’ll receive an email from the airline if your flight is cancelled, as well as a URL to a form where you’ll be able to reschedule your flight for free or request a refund. The airline has removed all change fees from website and app bookings.
- British Airways: If your flight has been cancelled you can claim a voucher to the value of your booking online or call customer services to discuss refund options. Vouchers will be valid for travel until 30 April 2022 and can be used as payment, or part payment, for a future booking. You can change the dates and destination of your booking for free until at least 31 August 2021, although you will need to pay any difference in fare.
- Finnair: Bookings made up to 31 March 2021 can be rescheduled free of charge, thanks to the airline’s Book with confidence policy. If your flight is cancelled you will be contacted by the airline to discuss rebooking or refund options, which are also available via this form.
- Turkish Airlines: Flights were suspended until 28 May 2020. Any bookings made before 20 March 2020 can be rebooked free of charge until 28 February 2021, and bookings made after 20 March 2020 can be rescheduled for free until 31 December 2021.
Have you been impacted by coronavirus flight cancellations? Get more useful advice in our article on what to do if your flight is cancelled or delayed.
While this is a fast-developing situation, here are four Coronavirus travel need-to-knows:
There are a lot of practical steps you can take. Regularly wash your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand gel), avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth and stay at least two metres away from someone who is coughing or sneezing. Airlines that are in operation are enforcing social distancing, and mask-wearing is usually mandatory. Read more.
First of all, call the airline, hotel or online travel agent you booked with. Not sure which company you used? You’ll see their name on your bank or credit card statement as well as the email you received from them to confirm the booking. You’ll find more details, including contact information, on our help page.
Call the airline or online travel agent. With so many travel plans changed, it may take longer than usual to speak to someone who can help but keep trying. If the airline or online travel agent tells you that a refund isn’t available or they’ve stopped trading, it might be worth getting in touch with your credit card company if that’s how you booked. If you have travel insurance, get in touch with your provider as well.
It depends on your policy. Check their website or give them a call to find out more.
This page was last updated on 18 January 2021. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. However, given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis, information will vary by location and change at short notice and over time. We will do our best to keep this page up-to-date, however this cannot be guaranteed.
This page has been created for general guidance only and has not been designed for you or any specific circumstances relevant to you. It is highly recommended that you check your government’s latest travel advice before travelling or making any decisions to travel.