During the pandemic, there have been constant changes to FCDO travel advice as the UK government continually reviews the risk of coronavirus in each country.
Brits have seen their travel plans thrown into chaos because a change in advice means their holidays are cancelled, or they find themselves trying to get back before a deadline which would mean they need to quarantine for 14 days when returning to the UK.
It’s a confusing time for UK holidaymakers, so we’ve tried to shed some light with a guide on what to do if the FCDO changes advice to your chosen destination.
Our guide covers various circumstances whether you were due to go on a trip, you’re already on holiday when the changes are announced, and even what it means in terms of your travel insurance.
Check out our guide below…
(Always check the latest FCDO advice before planning, booking and going on a trip.)
If you’ve got a holiday booked
If the UK government advises against all but essential travel to your destination, your trip is essentially cancelled, and your travel insurance is now void.
In terms of getting your money back, the rules differ depending on the type of holiday you booked – check out the explanation for each one below.
Package holidays: Unfortunately, your holiday will most likely be cancelled. Get in touch with your travel firm, travel agent or tour operator. If they are cancelling your holiday, then you are entitled to a refund. Some companies are also offering alternatives such as re-booking for a later date, or vouchers to use on future holidays.
Flights only: If the flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a refund. However, during the pandemic some airlines haven’t been cancelling flights even when there has been a change in advice, so if this happens you may need to negotiate. This may mean accepting vouchers or the option to re-book for a later date.
Flights and hotel booked separately: You’ll need to negotiate with both your airline and accommodation separately. If they won’t give you a refund, it’s worth trying to find a compromise, for example by accepting vouchers for future trips, or re-booking your flights/stay for a later date. If your travel insurance was bought pre-pandemic, check your policy in case you may be able to claim.
If you’re already on holiday
If the advice changes when you’re abroad, you’ll need to follow the FCDO advice.
In the case of the pandemic, the government doesn’t usually advise for Brits to travel back immediately – but they do impose a deadline which means if you arrive after a certain time, you’ll be required to quarantine for 14 days.
However, sometimes the FCDO changes its advice based on a situation in a country such as a natural disaster, in which case they may advise Brits to return home immediately.
You should always check the advice for the latest updates, no matter what the cause for the change.
What counts as essential travel?
Unfortunately, there’s no set definition that the government follows. Instead, it’s left up to individuals to decide what they class as ‘essential’ travel. However, a holiday isn’t going to be considered essential. If you do need to travel, get in touch with your travel insurance provider as travelling against FCDO advice will void your insurance.
What about travel insurance?
If you have a trip planned and you aren’t already on holiday, then your travel insurance will now be void if you travel to the destination and the FCDO advises against travel.
If you are already on holiday, your travel insurance applies as normal. Check your policy for full details on what it is you’re covered for. (You can find out more about travel insurance during the pandemic in our wider guide here ).