COVID-19 Travel Restrictions – Is It Possible To Travel To And From The UK?

17 Mar 2020, 59 mins ago

The World Health Organization has classified COVID-19 (Coronavirus) as a pandemic in light of the fact that it has now reached 125 countries and territories.

In a bid to secure and to contain the virus, travel restrictions are being implemented across borders worldwide. Many airlines have postponed flights and major airports are putting emergency preventative measures in place. As trepidation grows around the fast-spreading virus, more and more countries are introducing travel restrictions, mandatory quarantine precautions and health screenings.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, confirmed last week that Britain will remain open at this time, and will not be closing its border to migrants. This is a significant step away from the lead set by other countries, including the US, Austria and Israel. 

However, the Foreign Office is currently advising against all non-essential travel to various European, Asian, South American, and Caribbean countries, as well as to the US. Whilst no formal restriction has been placed by the UK on travel to these countries, there may be measures in place which have been implemented by the destination country which will adversely affect travellers from the UK (such as the US, for example). 

The President of the European Commission has proposed an EU-wide travel ban on all non-essential travel into countries of the European Union. Presently, the UK will be exempt from these travel restrictions, which are due to be finalized by European leaders today. Despite this, certain countries including Armenia, Sweden and Belarus intend to impose health screenings and possible quarantine measures to all visitors, including those from the UK.

The following locations continue to implement a ban on all travellers from the UK: the US, India, Qatar, Oman, Bhutan, Aruba, Benin, Guatemala, El Salvador, Kuwait, and North Korea. Each of these countries has implemented a ban on all travellers from regions with confirmed cases of the virus.

Until further notice, British nationals are no longer able to apply for tourist visas to Vietnam unless they are travelling together with a tour operator. Similarly, countries including Sri Lanka, Bahrain, and Bangladesh have suspended the issue of visas on arrival, although British nationals are still able to apply for a visa online and in advance of their trip.

Countries including Bermuda, Canada, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Malta, Israel, Lebanon and Uganda require travellers to self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of where they arrive from. 

Needless to say, if you have been in Italy, China or Iran within the last 14 days, additional travel restrictions may apply to you.
In an environment where the popular response has been to limit cross-border travel, the UK presently remains open to welcoming migrants.

If you have any UK visa or immigration issue, whether for work or any other reason, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Please note that the information on this blog is current at the date and time of posting. The situation regarding international travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic is changing fast. We advise that you contact us prior to making travel arrangements that may impact your visa application or immigration history.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2020


Navka Raja 

  Navka Raja

  Immigration Consultant and Trainee Solicitor in our Private Client department