Updated 30th March 2020
Guidance for British people travelling overseas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Latest update: special charter flights
The government is working in a new partnership with the airline industry to help British people travelling abroad to return to the UK.
Where commercial routes remain feasible airlines, including Virgin, Easyjet, Jet2 and Titan Airways, will be responsible for getting their passengers with pre-booked tickets home. Where commercial routes do not exist, the government will provide up to £75 million to enable special charter flights to priority countries to bring back UK residents.
Special charter flights will operate in some countries to help British tourists and short term visitors and their families to return to the UK. To see if you are eligible and to find out how to book, see the ‘Return to the UK’ section of for the travel advice page of the country that you are in.
If there are no special charter flights for the country you’re in, follow the guidance in the ‘Return to the UK’ section of that country’s travel advice.
You should also sign up for email alerts, to get our latest advice if the situation changes.
Exceptional travel advisory notices
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has issued 2 global travel advisory notices:
1. Return to the UK now if you’re travelling abroad
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British people travelling abroad to return to the UK now, if commercial flights are still available.
If you’re travelling abroad, you should:
- contact your airline or travel company now
- keep up-to-date with our travel advice pages. We are updating information on returning from the country you’re in as quickly as we can
- for real-time updates, follow our embassy or high commission’s social media for the country you’re in
2. Do not travel abroad unless it’s essential
The FCO advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide until at least 15 April due to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice.
To change or cancel your travel plans, follow these steps:
- contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers
- get in touch with your insurance provider
The FCO 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 FCO travel advice pages for the latest information.
If your travel is essential, see our guidance on international travel.
International freight transport is an essential activity in the context of travel advice. Read the Department for Transport guidance for the freight transport industry.
If you cannot return to the UK
The government is in contact with airlines, foreign governments and local authorities to ensure British people travelling abroad can return to the UK as soon as possible. If you’re unable to leave at this time, you should:
- follow the advice of local authorities, including local measures to help minimise your risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19)
- find accommodation that’s suitable for your needs
- keep up-to-date with our travel advice and the latest information from transport providers and local authorities on your departure options
- keep in regular contact with family and friends at home, so they know you are safe and well
You must follow the advice of local authorities. Your safety and security is the responsibility of the local authority where you are.
Quarantine while you are abroad
If the local authority where you are proposes to quarantine you for your own protection, you should follow their advice.
If there are suspected cases of coronavirus where you are, you may need to remain in your hotel room or accommodation for 14 days, move to quarantine facilities, take tests for coronavirus and, if positive in some cases, be hospitalised abroad.
You should also contact your airline or travel company, and your insurance provider as soon as you can. We only organise assisted departure in exceptional circumstances.
If your visa is running out
If you live abroad permanently
We are not advising British people who are permanent residents overseas to return to the UK. Instead you should stay and follow the advice of the local authorities in your host country. Further information on measures that host countries have taken is available in our travel advice pages.
Our advice for British people travelling overseas to return is because it may be more difficult for them if they cannot get back to the UK in the coming weeks.
Everyone, including permanent residents overseas, should consider their own personal circumstances and take into account all of the information available. If you wish to return to the UK, you should make arrangements to return now.
If you’re concerned about friends or family overseas
If you are concerned about a friend or family member who is currently overseas, you should read our country-specific travel advice and sign up for email alerts.
Our travel advice and consular support
Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice
Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice is constantly under review, so that it reflects our latest assessment of risks to British people. Find out more about how our travel advice works.
Latest health advice
The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) has also produced general advice on preparing for foreign travel and how everyone can reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.