Overseas travel: Can I go and what Covid regulations are in place?

Credit: AP

Parts of the UK have finally brought in restrictions for entry at its borders in a bid to control the spread of Covid-19.

All travellers to England and Scotland from international destinations will have to test negative for coronavirus before they can enter the country, it has been announced.

But most other countries around the world already had such measures in place.

For UK travellers wanting to head overseas, they can only do so for limited reasons and must adhere to the Covid regulations in the country they are visiting.

Here's a rundown of what the rules are for leaving the country, and some of restrictions in place in major destinations.

Covid rules on international travel from England

A strengthened "stay at home" message across the country restricts international travel to only "legally permitted reasons".

This means you can travel overseas for work, but not for a holiday.

Travellers must, however, consider what restrictions might face them at the border of their destination.

Lorries queued at the border as France and the UK agreed terms of travel amid a new, more infectious Covid variant. Credit: AP


Since 20 December, all arrivals into France from the UK - whether by train, air, car, or ferry - must provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test from the past 72 hours.

The border is partially closed, with only the following granted entry:

  • French nationals and nationals of the European Area and their spouses and children.

  • British and/or third country nationals who are either habitually resident in France, the European Union or the European Area, or who must travel for certain essential reasons.

  • British or third country nationals travelling for certain exceptional reasons. 

Arrivals will need to complete a "sworn statement" confirming they are free of any Covid symptoms and have not had contact with any confirmed cases in the past 14 days.


Spain has restricted who can travel into the country - by air and sea - from the UK since 22 December, with the current restrictions in place until at least 19 January.

Since 23 November, those who are still allowed to travel to Spain have been required to show evidence of a negative Covid test - taken in the past 72 hours.

Spot checks are being carried out at the country's travel hubs and rule breakers face a minimum fine of €3000 (£2,700).

Travellers will also need to provide to the Spanish Ministry of Health their contact information and details of any history of exposure to the virus.

There are also temperature checks and a visual health assessment for arrivals.

People walk through a deserted check-in hall at the airport in Munich, Germany. Credit: AP


Commercial travel from the UK to Germany has been banned until 20 January, transport operators can apply to the German authorities for an exemption to transport individuals by plane, bus, ferry or train who are resident in Germany.

Anyone arriving in Germany who has been in the UK, in the 10 days before, must have evidence of a negative Covid test - taken less than 48 hours before entry.

Even with that negative test, travellers must then self-isolate for 10 days following arrival in Germany - with the possibility of test and release after 5 days.


Until 15 January, entry into Italy for anyone who has been in the UK at any point in the past month is heavily restricted.

Only those who have official residency are permitted to enter or those with "absolute necessity" - like work, health, study, an emergency or returning home.

A medical staffer performs tests for at a drive-through at Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci airport. Credit: AP

Those who can still travel to Italy must present the airline with a negative Covid test (taken 72 hours before entry) before flying and must also take a Covid-19 test at the airport on arrival.

Regardless of the test result, all UK arrivals into Italy must still self-isolate for 14 days from arrival.

These rules apply even for those just travelling through Italy.

Outside of Europe, the rules for allowing entry to those travelling from the UK are stricter still.


Australia has closed its borders except for returning citizens, permanent residents or those with an exemption.

Exemptions include a "compassionate or compelling reason" - according to Australian authorities - and those who think they are eligible must first apply.

The Australian government warns there is a backlog of applications and at least four weeks notice should be given.

If successful, all travellers entering the country have to quarantine for two weeks in a designated facility and must pay a fee to do so.

New Zealanders enjoy Covid-free New Year celebrations. Credit: AP

New Zealand

Stricter still are the rules in New Zealand, where entry is closed to almost all arrivals.

Aside from citizens and residents, few exemptions apply - among them essential health workers, Australian citizens, and partners or children of residents - and these must first be approved by the country's immigration authorities.

Within 24 hours of arrival, UK citizens must have a Covid-19 test taken within the quarantine facility they must report to immediately.

Arrivals have to wait for the test result in isolation, and stay there for a further test on day three and day 12 of the minimum two week quarantine.

To leave the country, UK citizens must also have proof of a confirmed negative test result within 72 hours prior to departure.


Barbados designates UK travellers as "high risk" and a number of measures are in place to stop travellers bringing in the virus.

Arrivals to the island from the UK must arrived with a negative PCR Covid test - certified by a laboratory within three days of arrival.

Travellers must also quarantine - at a government facility free of charge, or an approved hotel or villa at their own expense - and take another test five days after the first is accepted.

Barbados designates the UK as a high-risk country for Covid. Credit: AP

When in isolation, people must stay in their hotel room and could be asked to wear an electronic tracking bracelet to ensure they are following the rules.

Love Island star Zara Holland was recently charged nearly £5000 for breaking these quarantine regulations.

Travellers can leave isolation if the second test is negative.

Extra Covid restrictions are still in force on Barbados, including including a 9pm to 5am curfew and a ban on gatherings.

United Arab Emirates

A popular destination for Brits before lockdown restrictions came back into force, Dubai requires UK arrivals to have evidence of a negative Covid test.

Travellers can either present a negative PCR test on departure of the UK - taken a maximum of 96 hours before - or they can take a test on arrival at Dubai airport.

Those who choose the latter option must isolate pending a negative result.

A passenger in a full, disposable hazmat suit arrives at the baggage claim area of Dubai International Airport. Credit: AP

Travellers to Abu Dhabi from the UK must have a negative Covid test result within 72 hours of departure and will also be required to take a test once there.

While in Abu Dhabi, visitors must wear a government-provided wristband, complete a minimum 10-day period of quarantine and - depending on the length of their stay - have up to two further tests on day six and 12 after their arrival.

The homeward journey, back to the EU or UK, also requires a negative Covid test result taken within 96 hours prior to your departure.


It is all but impossible to visit China from the UK.

Domestic travellers in China crowd an airport. Credit: AP

Direct flights from the UK to China have been indefinitely suspended, with visa application centres for British nationals also closed until further notice.

Certain visa holders can still gain entry - for example those with a diplomatic visa.

All arrivals must submit a Health Declaration Form before travel and provide both a negative Covid test and an antibody test - both taken less than 48 hours before travel.