Going abroad from the UK: A quick guide

With rules surrounding travelling abroad changing regularly, it’s even more important than ever to plan thoroughly before booking a trip.

Read on for up-to-date information about where you can travel internationally, the tests you will need to take before travelling, and the rules surrounding vaccinations and quarantine.

Where can you travel to from the UK?

There are two things that dictate whether you can travel to a country from the UK: whether the UK will let you travel there, and whether they will let you in. While of course the UK government can’t stop you visiting somewhere, they can make it difficult (or expensive) for you to return, so it’s worth keeping in mind their restrictions as well as those of your intended destination.

The UK categorises countries as being on a Green, Amber or Red list. At the time of writing, the government advises against travel to Amber and Red list countries—but it is still legal to do so. 

Meanwhile, many other countries have similar (or even stricter) lists determining who is allowed in. For example, Australia and New Zealand are still not permitting tourists, and many other countries on the green list require tourists to have a special permit or worthy purpose to enter. 

For up-to-date, straightforward guidance on test requirements and other travel restrictions for your trip, take a look at our interactive Travel Requirements map. It automatically checks government, airline and other reliable websites every hour, making it easy for you to stay abreast of an ever-changing situation. 

For more information about the requirements to return to the UK after travelling abroad, please see our article Everything you need to know before travelling to the UK from abroad.

The tests you need and when to take them

When you leave the UK you need to check the requirements of the country you are going to. Things to check for include:

  • Test type: While most countries will accept a PCR test, some will also accept a (cheaper) Lateral Flow test. If they do, they may specify the manufacturer to make sure your test meets a certain standard, or say that the test must be validated by a private laboratory. CHT’s Lateral Flow tests are manufactured by Healgen, and are approved by Public Health England, the European Commission and the American authorities.

  • Time before entry: Most countries will say that your test sample must have been taken within a set number of hours of entering their country. This is typically 48 hours but does vary.

  • Doctor / nurse administered: A small number of countries require that your samples must be taken by a healthcare professional. While most CHT tests are self-swab tests (which are then tested in a UKAS-accredited laboratory), for an additional fee we can arrange for a nurse to visit your home or office

  • Lab accreditation: As well as specifying test type, your destination country may say your certificate must come from a laboratory with a certain level of accreditation. CHT London is Level 2 Accredited with UKAS. If you aren’t sure if we meet a particular requirement, please get in touch to check.

In addition to checking what’s needed for your destination, if you are transiting via another country you will need to make sure you meet their requirements too. This is normally the case even if you aren’t even leaving the airport, or travelling on a bus that does not intend to stop at all while passing through.

Again, the best place to check requirements for your destination country is our interactive Travel Requirements map.

Do you need to be vaccinated to travel abroad from the UK?

Proof of vaccination is slowly becoming more important for travel. While no countries are demanding evidence of vaccination (yet), many have different quarantine or test requirements for visitors who can prove their vaccination status.

The way in which UK citizens who have had a full vaccine course can prove their COVID-19 vaccination status varies based on the country in which you were vaccinated. All of the below are only available to over-16s, because at present children are not being vaccinated:

  • England: If you had your COVID-19 vaccine in England , you can prove your vaccination status via the NHS app, or by requesting a COVID Pass via the NHS website or by calling 119.

  • Wales: Welsh residents who have been double vaccinated can request an NHS COVID Pass for international travel online. You need an NHS login (which you can apply for online) and will have to wait for 5 days after your final dose before requesting your pass. Passes are available digitally and by post.

  • Scotland: Adults who have been vaccinated in Scotland can view their vaccine status through the NHS Inform patient portal. Printed versions can be also requested, to be sent via post.

  • Northern Ireland: Work has begun on a vaccination certificate system, but at the time of writing this is not yet available. A paper-based version is expected to be ready by mid-July, with a digital version to follow later in the summer.

If you are intending to rely on your vaccination status to reduce your test/quarantine requirements, be sure to check whether your destination country accepts the specific vaccine you have received. Since different countries are using different vaccines, there is a chance that some may start being selective about which vaccines they consider valid.

Do you need to quarantine when you travel abroad from the UK?

Again, the quarantine rules depend on your destination country. There are no requirements to quarantine in the UK ahead of travelling.

Final thoughts

Being informed and keeping up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 announcements is vital if you plan to travel. No matter which country you are travelling to from the UK, you will need to book private COVID-19 tests, which is where we come in.

We offer a wide range of COVID-19 travel tests and pride ourselves on delivering a smooth and stress-free experience. If you are planning to travel internationally, take a look at our range of COVID-19 tests to find out more. 

This article was last updated on 5th July 2021.

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