Tommy Lloyd
Author: Tommy Lloyd, Managing Director

Tommy has over 15 years experience within the insurance industry, and his primary focus is helping travellers find the right cover for their medical conditions.

When can I go on holiday abroad?

The government has confirmed that international leisure travel is allowed for those that live in England, Scotland, and Wales.

The Global Travel Taskforce has outlined the introduction of a three-tier traffic light system that will rate the risk for each country, as well as the different levels of restriction upon your return.

It is advised that you check how your destination is rated before booking your holiday and whether the country is allowing tourists.

COVID-19 Medical Cover

We’ll only show you quotes from providers who cover emergency medical expenses (including repatriation to the UK) if you catch the virus whilst travelling abroad.

Enhanced COVID Cover

Extra cover that'll give you & your holiday even more protection against COVID-19. Compare quotes from leading providers with this additional cover today.

How will the traffic light system work?

Key factors in the assessment of destinations will include the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated, rate of infection, COVID-19 variants, and testing capacity.

Each foreign destination will be rated as one of the following:

  • Green: you will need to take a pre-departure test before returning to the UK. Upon return to the UK, a PCR test must be taken on or before day 2 of your arrival, but you will not need to quarantine (unless you receive a positive result).
  • Amber: in addition to taking a pre-departure test, you will need to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, taking a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 of your quarantine. You will have the option to pay for a test (Test to Release) on day 5 to end self-isolation early.
  • Red: you will need to self-isolate for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel at your own cost. This is in addition to the pre-departure testing, and PCR tests on day 2 and day 8 of your quarantine.

The lists will be reviewed every 3 weeks and the government plans to introduce a green watchlist to give the public advance warning of when a destination may be moved to a different rating.

Where can I go on holiday without quarantining?

There are 11 countries and territories currently on the green list. 

  • Australia
  • Brunei
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Iceland
  • Israel and Jerusalem
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands
  • St Helena, Ascension & Tristan da Cunha

You will still need to check what entry restrictions or quarantine measures the country has in place for UK travellers.

For example, Gibraltar will not require any UK visitors to be tested or vaccinated, whereas Israel requires tourists to have had both doses of the vaccination.

How will PCR tests impact me?

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is performed to detect the presence of a virus if you are infected at the time of the test. The test could also detect fragments of the virus even after you are no longer infected.

The PCR test is the "gold standard" test for diagnosing COVID-19 due to it's accuracy and reliability. A swab is normally taken from your nose to collect respiratory material which is then sent to a lab for analysis.

It is estimated that just one of these tests could cost between £50 and £120 per person. 

There have been calls to look at other testing methods, such as the lateral flow tests, which are cheaper and quicker.

Is travel insurance valid for amber or red list destinations?

The government has advised Brits that they should not travel to amber or red countries.

For a travel insurance policy to be valid, you must not be travelling against the advice of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

It is therefore essential that you check the FCDO's travel advisories for your destination before booking and/or travelling.

What do the FCDO advisories mean for my travel insurance?

If you decide to travel against FCDO advice, any travel insurance cover you have in place will no longer be valid. This advice is constantly under review and can change - either advising against travel, or removing restrictions - at short notice.

It's also important to remember that even if the FCDO are no longer advising against travel to your destination, some countries will still have their own entry requirements, including, in some cases, quarantine rules should you decide to visit.

Keep an eye on the latest government travel advice, using the link below, for any further updates and information.

FCDO Travel Advice
Dr Sarah Jarvis, MBE

Dr Sarah Jarvis answers your questions

Sarah is the Clinical Director of the Patient Platform, an active medical writer, broadcaster, and is the resident doctor for BBC Radio 2.

Question: How long after getting my COVID-19 vaccination can I travel abroad?

Different countries will have different requirements. Most countries that require proof of vaccination will require you to have a full course of vaccination before travelling. For all the vaccines currently available in the UK, that means two vaccinations 10-12 weeks apart.

You will also need to check the individual requirements for the country you're visiting on the FCDO website. For instance, some countries may not allow you to travel until at least two weeks after your second vaccine, as it takes some time for maximum immunity to develop.

You can find answers to all your coronavirus-related questions on the link below.

COVID-19 Health Questions

Can I get travel insurance now?

Yes - you can! Many of you will be eager to get away, and you may already have a trip booked for later in the year.

There are a few key things to consider;

  1. The first will be what the FCDO is advising for your destination at the time of your trip. If the FCDO is not advising against all but essential travel to your destination, your policy will cover you as per your terms and conditions. However, if, at the time of your trip, the FCDO is advising against all or all but essential travel to your destination, your cover will not be valid.
  2. The second will be whether there are any government lockdown restrictions against travel at the time of your trip. If you're travelling against government restrictions, your cover will not be valid.

If you need to re-arrange your trip, most travel insurance providers should be able to amend your cover dates as well. Be aware there may be a charge if you are changing your destination or how long you are going away.

You can take comfort in knowing that we've made sure we're only offering you policies that can cover COVID-19 medical expenses whilst you are away as a minimum.

COVID-19 Insurance
Medical Travel Compared Map Pins

What COVID-19 cover is available?

As a minimum, we've ensured that every travel insurance provider available through our site now includes emergency medical cover, including repatriation, for COVID-19. If you fall ill with COVID-19 whilst on holiday, and require treatment, you’ll be able to get help with the medical costs or even be brought home for medical treatment if required.

Some of our travel insurance providers are also able to offer enhanced COVID-19 Cover, including some cancellation protection. We’ll make it clear which policies they are and, depending on your policy, some of the areas that may be covered are;

Before your holiday

  • You contract COVID-19 before you travel
  • You are required to self-isolate at the time of your trip departure
  • A family member you were due to stay with has to self isolate and you have nowhere else to stay
  • You are denied boarding by your airline due to COVID-19 symptoms

During your holiday

  • You are asked to return home early from your trip by the local authorities due to COVID-19
  • Additional accommodation costs if you need to isolate and extend your trip
  • A close relative becomes ill with COVID-19 and you need to return home early

The specifics of the cover will vary from provider to provider, so it’s really important that you check your policy wording thoroughly. If you’re still unsure, then speak with your chosen travel insurance provider directly who can give you guidance on what they can and cannot cover you for.

In some circumstances, you may be asked for medical certification, or confirmed test results, if your claim is in relation to COVID-19.

It’s also important to remember that whilst cover may be restricted in respect of COVID-19, cover for other areas should still apply, such as if you fall ill and are unable to travel, or need medical assistance for other conditions that are unrelated to COVID-19.

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What COVID-19 cover isn't available?

This will vary, policy by policy, and unless otherwise stated, providers won’t be able to cover you for anything related to COVID-19, other than emergency medical expenses cover whilst you are away. 

It is unlikely that any travel insurance provider will be able to cover you if you can’t travel due to government restrictions, such as advice from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, or a country closing their borders, if this is due to COVID-19.

Most providers will also restrict cover if you decide not to go on holiday. This includes if you are worried about catching the virus whilst you are on your trip, the facilities at your hotel being restricted, or if you are expected to quarantine either when you get to your destination, or when you come back to the UK.

How will the lockdown restrictions impact my travel insurance?

If you are unable to go on your trip due to regional or national lockdown restrictions, you should, in the first instance, contact your travel provider (such as your airline or hotel) - as they should be able to rearrange your trip for you or offer you a refund.

It's unlikely any travel insurance provider will be able to cover you if you cancel your trip due to the government's lockdown rules, or if you decide to travel against the governments restrictions.

Please see your local guidance for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and check with your travel insurance provider if you are unsure about your cover.

What happens if my travel provider has cancelled my trip?

If your holiday gets cancelled not only will you probably be disheartened, but you’ll also want to know what happens to the money you invested in it.

In the first instance, your travel operator should be able to rearrange your trip for a later date, when it’s more likely that your trip can go ahead.

Your travel operator may also offer you a refund but this does depend on the T&C’s of your booking, so make sure you give them a good read. Alternatively, they may instead offer you a travel voucher so that you can re-book your trip at a later date. But make sure you check when the expiry date of the voucher is.

Remember, if you’ve booked a flight or package holiday you should have ATOL protection as an added buffer should things go wrong. UK and European law require all package holidays to be ATOL protected, so make sure to keep an eye out for the ATOL logo when booking. ATOL protection won’t apply if you booked your plane ticket directly with the airline, or travel company. For more information about ATOL, check out our guide

If you booked your holiday through a travel agent or paid using a credit card, you may also be able to get help from either your travel agent or credit card provider.

ATOL Protection
Medical Travel Compared UK Roads

My travel is essential – can I still get cover?

The FCDO give some guidance on this and say essential travel “is a personal decision and circumstances differ from person to person. It is for individuals themselves to make an informed decision based on the risks and FCDO advice.”

However, it is unlikely that our travel insurance providers will be able to cover you for essential travel, you would need to speak to a travel insurance provider directly to see if they would be willing to cover your trip.

What if I go away without valid travel insurance cover?

Travelling against FCDO advice, will, in nearly all cases, invalidate your travel insurance cover. Whilst you may find that some airlines and travel providers will cancel, or reschedule your trip, some may still operate, leaving you with a difficult decision to make. Do you lose out on your trip, or press ahead, and travel somewhere without any insurance protection?

It's important to remember that travelling without a valid insurance policy, means that you won't be covered should you need medical assistance whilst abroad – whether that is COVID-19 or other healthcare issues, e.g. breaking your leg or getting a stomach bug.

You might have to pay medical bills, which could run into the thousands if you are travelling to somewhere with high healthcare costs. Plus if you lose baggage or have something stolen, you would not be covered – there are lots of aspects to travel insurance.

Even if you have a GHIC/EHIC card, this will only provide limited protection and may not cover all of your medical costs and will not cover you if you need to be repatriated back home.

Can I get travel insurance for a holiday in the UK?

Even within the UK you still need to be aware of border closures. England Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are operating under different rules when it comes to the COVID-19 outbreak and may still be in lockdown at the time of your travel.

Be sure to check the local governments' website before travelling to that country.

There are many other reasons to check out UK travel insurance, for example, if you're taken ill from a pre-existing medical condition and are unable to travel. And some policies can even offer enhanced COVID-19 cover, should you fall ill will COVID-19, or have to self isolate at the time of your trip. For more info on this, have a read of our guide.

UK Travel Insurance

Where can I get more help?

There’s a lot of things to consider, and Dr Sarah Jarvis has created some useful guides to give you all the information you need to travel safely.

If you need anymore help then feel free to speak to our online team, or send us an email at contact@medicaltravelcompared.co.uk .

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Cancellation amounts will be per person. So, if you were going on a trip for 2 people which cost £1,000 in total you would ideally need cancellation cover for at least £500.
You will need to add each country that you are visiting. If you are on a flight stopover this will include any countries where you leave the airport. If you are on a cruise it includes any countries where your ship will be docking at.
A pre-existing condition is a diagnosed medical condition that existed before taking out a policy. We'll ask a series of questions about the medical history for you and any travellers on your quote. If you answer yes to any of these, you will need to tell us about the traveller's conditions. This could be a condition that a traveller has now, or has had in the past. If you are not sure what conditions you need to declare, we have online support available to help you 24/7!
If you're taken ill or have an accident abroad your travel insurance policy will repatriate you once you are well enough to travel. It is included within your medical cover. The insurance provider's Emergency Assistance team will help organise this along with the medical team who are treating you. If you are travelling in the UK, check repatriation with your insurance provider to see what is included.
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