Travelling during a pandemic isn't simple
As someone who’s usually banging on about £5 flights or how to stay in luxury for less, I’ve recently had to make a shift towards helping people figure out where they can go and with what restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A website that is completely free and very up to date.
Yes, I’m talking about the government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website and in this article I’m going to show you where to find the info for the country you want and how to pinpoint the information that’s relevant to your trip.
First things first, where do you want to go?
Click on a country to launch the most up to date advice page:
If you prefer an A-Z list of countries, you can find that here.
On that page you’ll find a ‘Summary’ which will give you the first important information you need to know – whether the UK government advises you to travel there at the moment.
How to read the FCO advice page
To make it easier for me to explain, I’m going to use Germany‘s advice page – where the information is correct as of 15th August 2020.
So we’ve got the name of the country, the general FCO advice for all travel (I’ll come onto that in a moment) and a list of links that will take you to more information.
Whilst many of us will never have used them before, these pages have always existed. In fact, it’s just the ‘Coronavirus’ page that is the new addition here, though updates to ‘Entry Requirements’ have definitely seen a lot more action than they usually do!
How to sign up for instant FCO email alerts
Potentially the most useful part of the page! If there’s a country you’re hoping to go to you should absolutely sign up for email alerts because this information can, and quite likely will change over the next few months. Don’t get caught out!
How to find out what FCO advice has been changed
The ‘still current at’ and ‘updated’ are fairly self explanatory but it’s the ‘latest update’ which I find the most useful.
It pinpoints the areas that have most recently been changed and to find out more, you should visit the pages it mentions.
So here it would be ‘Summary’ – the page you’re already on – and the ‘Coronavirus’ page – which you can click on the link menu above to visit
What does it mean if a country is 'exempt' from FCO advice?
This is the first, of many things, that could potentially be confusing but the important thing to understand is that when you first go onto the FCO website, this is what it advises about travel:
This tells us that ‘advises against all but essential international travel’ is the preset. It’s their over-arching advice. And therefore by being excluded from the FCO’s advice, it means it’s excluded from this advisory ‘ban’ on all other travel.
In the simplest terms, ‘exempt’ means: you can go to that country, you should be covered by your insurance and you won’t have to quarantine on your return.
What other information can be found in the FCO summary?
As shown with Germany’s advice, you may also find some extra helpful details in the summary. The above is stated in light of France being taken off the FCO exemption list.
Will I have to quarantine on arrival and do I need to fill in any forms?
The text shown in the grey box summaries who has to quarantine on arrival and also highlights the forms you need to fill in for your route back to the UK.
Below this, still on the summary page, there is further information which you should read but at this point, I’m going to direct you to a very important page if you are thinking of visiting a country – Entry requirements.
How do I find out the entry requirements for my holiday destination?
From the Summary page, you need to click on ‘Entry requirements’.
When you do, you’ll be met with this generic explanation of what the page covers.
But it’s the next section that is really important – it talks about what you need to do for that specific country.
Here’s what it says for Germany:
This clearly tells you that for Germany you don’ t need a reason to travel (some other countries require you to be a resident, or visiting family, etc.) and it doesn’t reference any forms that you need to fill in either.
Do I need to fill in a form or get tested before I go on holiday?
As seen above, you don’t for Germany right now but not all countries are this straight forward.
Greece, at the time of writing, lists a lengthy set of requirements, a passenger locator form, testing on arrival and quarantine details. So just make sure you read the whole page and make note of everything it asks you to do.
Cyprus, at the time of writing, need passengers to provide a negative COVID-19 test result on arrival, obtained within 72 hours before travel.
These are the kind of things you need to look out for and be asking yourself:
- Do I need to fill in a form?
- If so, how many hours before my holiday do I need to complete it by?
- Do I need to provide proof of this form, such as a print out or a QR code?
- Do I need to be tested for coronavirus?
- If so, how many hours before my holiday do I need to have been tested by?
- Do I need to provide proof of a negative test?
- Am I expected to be tested when I arrive at my destination?
- If so, where am I allowed to stay whilst waiting for my test result?
- Do I need to take a second test whilst travelling to this country?
Do I need to fill in a form for my return to the UK?
At present, you do need to fill in a form for your return.
At the time of writing you need to complete it before you arrive in the UK from any country though you cannot submit the form until 48 hours before you’re due to arrive.
You can find all the up to date details and links to the form here.
What are the social distancing rules for the country I'm going on holiday to?
For this, you need to click on the ‘Coronavirus’ page to find out what’s in place for the country you’re travelling to.
This is how it currently looks for Germany:
This is so important to read through to understand where you’ll need to wear a mask and what restrictions are currently in place that may affect your holiday.
Do I need to read all the FCO advice before I go on holiday?
I know it’s a lot to take in but there’s no better way to prepare yourself for your holiday and make sure you’ll be allowed into the country when it’s time to go.
Therefore, I definitely recommend reading all the information in ‘Summary’, ‘Coronavirus’ and ‘Entry Requirements’ as soon as possible before your holiday to make sure you can be prepared and have the best getaway you can!
Did that help?
I hope so! And do make sure to let me know where you’ve booked so I can holiday vicariously though you.
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