Last updated on 30th September 2020 – 8-minute read
Holidays have been a major discussion area for all of us over the past six months of the Coronavirus pandemic. As we know, travel advice and countries on the ‘travel or no travel’ list are changing daily. It’s certainly hard to keep up with the latest travel advice!
So, if you’re planning on heading to Europe, what do you need to know?
We’ve put together this up-to-date guide based on the most frequent questions that you have wanted answers to.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued a blanket advisory against all non-essential international travel back in March. In June, it revised the status for countries that the Government deemed to be low-risk and added them to a ‘Green travel list’. This list has been evolving ever since, particularly as case numbers have risen in recent weeks.
The government has introduced “travel corridors” separating some islands from mainland countries so that an area that presents a higher or lower public health risk to UK travellers can be assessed separately to the rest of the country.
This is great news as the FCDO advice is now more flexible based on enhanced infection data. So you can continue to enjoy holidays to areas within countries which the FCDO deems low risk, helping you travel safely and maintaining maximum protection to public health.
Still, when you return back to the UK from any country, you’ll need to provide your journey and contact details.
On your return from a number of countries you’ll need to self-isolate – this is based on the countries that are showing more than 20 cases per 100,000 people in a week.
So let’s start off with country-specific information.
Below are the latest rules for popular destinations such as Italy, Greece, France, Spain and Portugal, as of 30th September at Midday.
Country specific information on Coronavirus travel rules
France – advised against non-essential travel, self-isolate on return
Most countries not on the FCDO exempt list, like France, are not featured on the Department for Transport’s separate quarantine-exempt list either, meaning travellers arriving home from the 15th August will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
Italy – air corridor in place, on the FCDO Green List
From 4 July, Italy is exempt from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential international travel. This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) have updated their country page for Italy relating to an increase in Covid-19 case numbers in Sardinia. Please review the NATHNaC country page for Italy for further information
Travel to Italy is subject to entry restrictions
- Entry to Italy from the UK is permitted – you no longer have to justify your reason for travelling
- If you are travelling to Sardinia, you must register your trip in advance with the local authorities. There is no longer a requirement to take a COVID test prior to your arrival.
- You should download and complete a self-declaration from the Ministry of Interior before you travel to Italy
Greece – air Corridor in place, partially on the FCO Green List
1 The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCDO) has updated its travel advice for Greece and is advising against all but essential travel to seven popular islands. The rest of Greece remains exempt from the FCDO’s advice against all non-essential international travel.
The warning for Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos is the first in a more targeted approach to quarantine rules.
If you travel to Greece, you’ll need to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before travel. If you don’t complete this:
- Your airline may not allow you to travel
- You could receive a €500 fine on arrival
- The Greek authorities may not allow you to enter the country
2 If you’re arriving in England from these Greek islands listed above from 4am on Wednesday 9th September, you’ll need to self-isolate for two weeks.
If you’re returning to Scotland from anywhere in Greece on or after 3rd September, you may need to self-isolate on your return. Check the latest guidance from the Scottish Government.
If you’re returning to Wales from the islands of Mykonos, Zakynthos (Zante), Lesvos, Paros and Antiparos and Crete you need to self isolate for 14 days. More information is available from the Welsh Government.
Spain – advised against non-essential travel, self-isolate on return
On 27th July, the FCDO changed their travel advice for Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands. The Government advises against all non-essential travel based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks in the country.
Portugal – advised against non-essential travel to the mainland, self-isolate on return, some islands are still on the Green List
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advise against all but essential travel to mainland Portugal. This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
However, Madeira and the Azores, are exempt from the FCDO advice against all non-essential international travel. This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
The FCDO is not advising those already travelling in mainland Portugal to leave. You should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect yourself and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus. Contact your travel operator if you have any questions about your return journey.
If you’re travelling to England, Wales or Northern Ireland from mainland Portugal, you may need to self-isolate on your return. Check the latest guidance for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you’re travelling to Scotland from mainland Portugal OR Madeira and the Azores, you’ll need to self-isolate for 14 days on your return. Check the latest guidance from the Scottish Government.
If you’re still planning an autumn trip to Madeira or the Azores, consider buying your holiday from an ABTA licenced travel provider for extra protection and make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you during these very uncertain times, including cover for COVID-19 both before and during your trip. You should be flexible enough to change your holiday destination if the air corridor changes at short notice.
Remember, you will also need to take a Covid-19 test on arrival.
Malta – advised against non-essential travel, self-isolate on return
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases. Upon return to the UK, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.
Netherlands – advised against non-essential travel, self-isolate on return
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases. Upon return to the UK, you’ll need to self-isolate for 14 days.
Turkey – air Corridor in place, currently on the FCO Green List
From 4th July, Turkey is exempt from the FCDO advice against all non-essential international travel. It’s on the FCDO green list for travel.
Cyprus – air corridor in place, currently on the FCDO Green List
From 4th July, Cyprus is on the green list for travel – it’s exempt from the FCDO advice against all non-essential international travel. This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
So tourists are permitted to travel to Cyprus, but travel is subject to entry restrictions.
- As of 1st August 2020, tourists need to provide a negative test on arrival, obtained within 72 hours before travel
- On 31st July 2020, the Republic of Cyprus government announced that COVID-test results can be in the form of an email or SMS, but the test result itself and/or appointment letter must include the date and time when the test was taken
- Children under 12 years old do not require a test in order to travel to Cyprus
For the latest travel advice on a particular country, please visit the FCDO Foreign Travel Advice website. If you live in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland, you’ll also need to check your local government website for travel advice as this may differ. The government’s Twitter feed is also a good way to keep up-to-date.
Thanks also to Nigel Thompson, Travel Editor at the Mirror for some of this information above.
People also asked
Can you go on holiday to France/Netherlands/Malta now?
Travel is not advised rather than illegal so whilst you could in theory still go, we would recommend that you follow the advice and not travel to any of the countries which have been removed from the FCDO Green list and where the FCDO is advising against non-essential travel. A holiday is not classed as essential.
If you do go against the FCDO advice, you will invalidate your travel insurance policy and, if you have a medical problem for example, you will not be covered and could incur costs potentially running into thousands of pounds.
What if you change your holiday to an alternative destination?
If your upcoming holiday to Spain, Portugal or France has been affected by the recent change in Foreign and Commonwealth (FCDO) advice, your tour operator or airline may offer you to switch your holiday to another country included in the government’s air corridor list (the UK nations may have different rules). That way, you can still have a holiday abroad to look forward to!
You should check that the new country or region is still covered under your current travel insurance policy and notify your provider of any changes – whether it’s destination, dates or duration of your trip.
What do you need to look for you in a travel insurance policy during the Coronavirus pandemic?
You want to be able to travel with confidence, which means comprehensive travel insurance is vital. Look out for a policy which covers you for cancellations, emergency medical treatment and repatriation costs related to COVID-19.
Remember that the validity of travel insurance is dependent on FCDO advice – if the advice warns Brits against all but essential travel to a destination, then your insurance is not valid unless you were already on holiday. Your holiday will likely be cancelled or deferred.
Hopefully, this information guide helps, but do be aware that Government advice can change quickly.
We’ll continue to keep you updated as we work to make travel safe again, allowing you to travel with confidence and peace of mind.