Many people are keen to get away on an overseas trip to make up for the holidays they’ve missed during the pandemic and to see family and friends abroad. 

But for many of us it has been a long time since we travelled abroad, and there have been some changes to travel during this time, such as COVID entry requirements and rules in destinations, as well as from the UK leaving the European Union.

ABTA has prepared a handy checklist to help you get ready for your next foreign trip and we’ve also outlined the measures in place to help keep you safe.

As always, if there is something you are unsure about, speak to your ABTA Member travel provider. They will be able to offer further guidance and the most up-to-date information so you can travel with confidence. 

1.    Read the Foreign Office travel advice 
Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find the latest advice for the country you’re visiting. This includes entry requirements related to Coronavirus such as if you need to present proof of vaccination and/or a negative test result, other entry requirements like applying for a visa, and further advice on health such as recommended travel vaccinations. You can sign up to receive country specific email alerts to get important updates. 

2.    Check your passport
Check your passport to see if it’s nearing its expiry date and allow plenty of time to renew it if needed – this can take up to 10 weeks. 

Many countries require you to have at least six months left on your passport from your date of departure. If you’re travelling to the EU, your passport can’t be more than 10 years old when you enter and most places require you to have at least three months left on your passport on the day you depart from your destination.  Make sure you know what applies for the country you’re visiting.  

More guidance can be found at abta.com/passports

3.    Take out travel insurance
Make sure you take out comprehensive travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday. Many insurance policies, including ABTA Travel Sure, include different types of cover for COVID-19, such as medical expenses while on holiday or cancellation if you’re unable to travel, so read the policy details carefully to ensure it covers your specific needs.

4.    Make sure you have a valid EHIC or GHIC
If you’re travelling to Europe, make sure your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is still in date (cards are valid for five years when issued) and if not, apply for the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Both cards entitle you to state-priced emergency healthcare and some insurers won’t cover all your medical costs if you don’t have an EHIC or GHIC.

5.    Check the rules for travelling to Europe now that the UK has left the EU
There are some changes to travel to Europe now that the UK has left the EU, including passport validity, the documents needed for taking your pet and mobile data roaming. While you don’t yet need a visa for short trips to Europe, you will need a visa if you plan to stay more than 90 days in any 180-day period. Full details can be found at abta.com/brexit.

6.    Get your COVID-19 documents in order 
Having read the Foreign Office advice, you'll know the COVID-related travel requirements for your destination. Give yourself plenty of time to get the documentation in order, and make sure you check what format your destination will accept, either digital or paper or both. ABTA’s blog has lots of helpful advice.

You may find it helpful to have paper version of your documents in case your phone/device has a problem/runs out of battery and they can also make it easier if you are travelling as a group.

7.    Plan ahead
If you know you’ll need to hire a car or there’s a particular attraction you definitely want to visit, make sure you book in advance to secure your preferences. If you think your plans may change, check to see if there are flexible booking conditions which will allow you to make changes closer to your departure date. 

8.    You don't need to do anything on your return to the UK
All of the UK’s COVID-19 travel measures have now been removed, so you no longer need to take any tests or fill in any forms on return to the UK. Visit our Travel requirements to check before travelling abroad page for more details.

9.    Review the rules around hand luggage
Don’t forget, there are still rules around what you can and can’t carry in your hand luggage e.g. any liquids you’re taking must be in containers of 100ml or less and placed inside a 20cm x 20cm plastic bag. 

When going through security, these liquids and large electrical items like laptops and tablets will need to be taken out and placed in the security tray alongside your hand luggage, and you’ll need to remove certain items of clothing, like coats, belts and boots. Check what rules apply to the airport you’ll be travelling through and read more about the restrictions on Gov.uk.

10.    Final check before you head off
COVID requirements at home and abroad are changing as we learn to live with Coronavirus, so make sure you revisit the latest advice for your destination and your return to the UK as your departure date nears.  

Be sure to also check any COVID rules such as wearing a face covering or practicing social distancing, which may be required on your journey and at times during your holiday.
 

 

What’s in place to keep you safe

When travelling abroad, you’ll encounter a range of measures to limit the spread of the virus and keep you and others safe, many of which will now be familiar to you. 

On your journey, these may include enhanced cleaning procedures, the use of protective screens at counter services, extra hand sanitising stations and social distancing measures. The majority of modern, large, commercial aircraft use advanced HEPA filtration systems that are 99.9% effective at removing germs and viruses like COVID-19, and completely renew the air in the cabin every six minutes. If you’re going on a cruise, common changes onboard include improved ventilation systems to aid filtration and provide more fresh air.

Face coverings are still strongly encouraged in the UK and may be required by your transport provider or at certain parts of your journey overseas, so check what applies to your trip. Make sure you take enough so you can change them regularly – every four hours is recommended. 

During your holiday, it’s important that you follow the local rules to manage the virus and be aware that they may be more stringent than those in the UK e.g. there may still be a legal requirement to wear a face covering in public spaces or there may be reduced access to certain facilities to prevent the spread of the virus. 

The Foreign Office travel advice page for the country you are visiting has a ‘Coronavirus’ section which provides useful information on the local measures that are in place. Make sure you follow the advice of accommodation staff and excursion providers, or ask your travel provider if you have any questions.