Travel guidance for British citizens during COVID-19 pandemic - | Hudson McKenzie

Travel guidance for British citizens during COVID-19 pandemic

March 24, 2020 | Immigration, Latest Thinking, News

On 23rd March 2020, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated the travel notices on the UK government’s website to include further guidance and certain travel restrictions imposed as a result of the current COVID-19 climate. This advice takes effect immediately.

The FCO has now launched exceptional travel advisory notices for British people travelling overseas. The FCO heavily advises that British people going abroad return back to the UK, dependent on commercial flights still being available. This is in light of the fact that land borders and air routes are closing alongside new restrictions being implemented which prevents flights from departing. If you are travelling overseas, then you should:

  • Contact your airline/travel company as soon as possible.
  • Stay up to date with the travel advice pages. These are constantly being updated with information on how to return from the country you are in. The FCO are doing its best to ensure that British people can return home, especially those who are finding difficulties to come back to the UK.
  • If you are a permanent resident overseas, then you should permanently stay there and follow the advice of the local authorities in the country you reside in.

The FCO advises that British people only travel unless it is essential, and any non-essential travel is prohibited. This took effect on 17th March and is effective for 30 days. The rationale behind this is the pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and restrictions without notice. To change or cancel your travel plans, then you should:

  • Get in contact with your travel providers
  • Get in contact with your insurance provider
  • Continue to follow the NHS corona virus guidance
  • Check FCO travel advice pages for the most recent and up to date information

If you are abroad and want to return to the UK:

  • Contact your travel providers as soon as possible to arrange your travel back to the UK.
  • Contact your travel insurance company.
  • Consider your options: you may be required to travel to another country in order to return to the UK. Please visit for the latest information and travel restrictions that could affect your plans.
  • Keep updated with the ‘Return to the UK’ travel guidance for each country and sign up to email alerts so you are notified imminently if the circumstances do change.
  • Be mindful of the fact that your plans may be required to change at late notice.

If you are unable to return to the UK for whatever reason, please be aware that the UK government remain in close contact with airlines, international governments and local authorities to ensure your return as soon as possible.

In the meantime, it is commended that you follow the recommendations of the local authorities. Their responsibility is your security and safety and they will provide you with local measures to reduce the risk to being exposed to COVID-19. In addition, secure suitable accommodation for yourself, maintain daily contact with friends and family at home and pay attention to the latest travel advice from transport providers and local authorities on your return options.

If the local authority where you are suggests you quarantine for your own welfare, you should follow their advice. If there are indications that there are cases of corona virus where you are then you may need to remain in your accommodation for as long as 14 days, take tests for the virus, move to quarantine facilities or even be hospitalised in some cases. You should also contact your travel company and insurance provider too because the FCO can arrange assisted departure in exceptional cases.

If your visa is about to expire, please read the travel advice for the country you are in. If you have immigration queries, you will need to contact either the country’s local immigration authorities or their UK-based embassy. 

If your travel is deemed essential:

If your travel is a necessity, please ensure that you have completed the list of the following: –

  • Contact your airline, travel company and accommodation providers to guarantee that you are still able to travel.
  • Check you are covered by carefully reading the details of your travel insurance. Contact your insurer if you have any doubts or queries. You may need to consider taking out a specialist or different policy. Check the details on what it covers and purchase this as soon as you book your travel arrangements.
  • Take more than one payment method with you. This will be to ensure you are covered if you incur any emergencies or unpredicted delays.
  • Be mindful that you must follow the advice of the local authorities when abroad. This may be complying with isolation requirements and relying on their local health care system.
  • Be mindful of entry restrictions. Various countries have implemented screening measures (quarantine, health and travel questions etc) and entry restrictions at borders and transport hubs. If you have only recently been in a country affected by COVID-19, you may need to be quarantined otherwise you may not be permitted to enter a third country. If you do decide to travel, please contact the local immigration authorities or the embassy, high commission, or consulate of the country you are travelling to.
  • Be aware of unprecedented financial and logistical interruptions to your travel plans.
  • Ensure you have sufficient medication with you in case you are abroad for longer than you anticipated.
  • Arrange added support for family members, dependents, pets etc if you are abroad for longer than anticipated.
  • Consistently check travel advice for your destination and check
  • Check the NHS Guidance before you travel. If you are an older adult or have pre-existing and underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or asthma, you are more likely to become critically ill should you catch the virus.

Pay close attention to the latest NHS guidance on corona virus for the current situation in the UK and overseas at Should you require further information regarding the above, please get in touch with the Global Mobility professional you deal with at Hudson McKenzie via email at or by telephone +44(0) 20 3318 5794