Traveling Abroad: When Can We Go?

when can I travel abroad again

As of May 2021, many countries have already started welcoming foreign travellers again, including the United States, which has lifted its Global Level 4 travel advisory. However, the rules around COVID-era travel change rapidly, and many countries still have restrictions in place. For example, as of January 2021, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires all international passengers flying into the country to provide a negative COVID-19 test before boarding. Similarly, Australia requires all travellers to provide a negative PCR test, and airline Qantas has suggested that all international passengers may soon be required to have a vaccination certificate. In the UK, as of May 2021, foreign holidays are banned and returning travellers have to quarantine, but international holidays could resume as early as May 17.

Characteristics Values
Date Monday 17 May 2021
Vaccination status Vaccination programmes are underway in several countries, with some countries leading the way with high vaccination rates
Testing requirements A negative COVID-19 test is required for international travel, with some countries requiring additional testing upon arrival
Quarantine requirements Mandatory quarantine requirements vary by country and can be avoided in some cases with proof of vaccination or negative test results
Travel advisories Travel advisories vary by country and are subject to change; it is recommended to refer to official sources for the latest information
Travel insurance Recommended to check with insurance providers about medical coverage and potential outbreak scenarios
Health and safety measures Masks, physical distancing, and disinfection are recommended; testing and vaccination are also important considerations


What safety measures are in place?

When it comes to travelling abroad, there are several safety measures in place to ensure the health and safety of travellers, as well as the local population. These measures are designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and vary depending on the country of origin and destination. Here are some of the key safety measures to be aware of:

Testing and Quarantine Requirements:

Many countries require incoming travellers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within a specified time frame before departure. For example, the U.S. requires all international passengers, including returning citizens, to provide proof of a negative test before boarding. It is recommended to get tested 1-3 days before your flight and again 3-5 days after your return. If you test positive, you must isolate yourself and follow public health guidelines.

Some countries may also require travellers to undergo a period of self-quarantine or self-isolation upon arrival, typically ranging from 7 to 14 days. This strategy is often in place until immunity passports or certificates become more widespread.

Vaccination Status:

Some countries may require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for entry. It is essential to review the specific requirements of your destination country, as these requirements can vary. Additionally, the U.S. is assessing the feasibility of linking COVID-19 vaccination to International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) and producing electronic versions.

Mask-wearing and Physical Distancing:

Mask-wearing and physical distancing are widely recommended or required on public transportation and in transportation hubs such as airports, train stations, and bus terminals. These measures help reduce the risk of transmission during travel.

Country-Specific Guidelines:

Different countries have implemented their own specific guidelines and restrictions. For example, the U.S. Department of State, in coordination with the CDC, uses a country-specific level system, ranging from Level 1 to Level 4, to advise travellers on the safety conditions of various destinations. It is essential to review the specific guidelines and recommendations of your intended destination before planning your trip.

Health Screenings:

Many countries conduct health screenings for incoming travellers upon arrival. These screenings may include temperature checks, symptom monitoring, and additional testing.

Disinfection and Ventilation:

In addition to personal protective measures, such as mask-wearing, disinfection, physical distancing, and proper ventilation are crucial in reducing the spread of COVID-19. These measures are recommended in airports and other transportation hubs to create a safer environment for travellers.


What are the rules for flying?

As of May 2021, travel abroad from the UK became possible again. However, the rules around COVID-era travel change rapidly, so it is important to check the latest information before planning any travel.

Each airline and country may have its own specific rules for flying, so it is important to check these before travelling. Here are some general rules and guidelines to follow when flying:

  • Plan ahead and pack properly to facilitate the screening process and ease your travel experience.
  • Review the list of prohibited items for both carry-on and checked baggage. Some common prohibited items include box cutters, utility knives, and razors in carry-on luggage.
  • Liquids, gels, and aerosols in carry-on luggage must follow the 3-1-1 rule: 3.4 ounces or less per container, 1 quart size clear plastic bag (all liquids must fit in the bag), and 1 bag per passenger.
  • Firearms are only allowed in checked baggage and must be unloaded, placed in a locked, hard-sided container, and declared to your airline.
  • If travelling with a pet, bring a leash so carriers can be properly screened.
  • Give yourself enough time to arrive at the airport early.
  • Have your ID and boarding pass ready for inspection.
  • Remove large electronics, such as laptops, from your carry-on luggage and place them in a bin for screening.
  • Remove your shoes and place them directly on the X-ray belt.
  • If you are travelling with any electronic devices larger than a cell phone, such as laptops, tablets, e-readers, or handheld game consoles, remove them from your carry-on bag and place them in a bin for X-ray screening.
  • If you are travelling with any liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, or pastes, ensure they are 3.4 ounces or less and place them in a single quart-size plastic bag for screening.
  • If you are travelling with alcohol, check with your airline before bringing it on board. FAA regulations prohibit travellers from consuming alcohol on board unless served by a flight attendant.
  • If you have a disability or medical condition, you may call ahead to the TSA Cares toll-free helpline at (855) 787-2227.


What is the situation with hotels?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the hotel industry, with occupancy rates dropping to unprecedented lows. Hotels have had to adapt to new health and safety measures, such as social distancing, contactless check-ins, and enhanced cleaning protocols. Many properties have also had to reduce their staff numbers, and some have even had to close their doors temporarily or permanently.

In the early stages of the pandemic, occupancy rates were as low as 32% in Italy, 48% in the US, and 60% in China. These numbers reflect the significant decline in travel and tourism, as people cancelled or postponed their vacation plans due to lockdowns, travel restrictions, and safety concerns. As a result, the hotel industry faced a steep drop in revenue, with eight out of ten hotel rooms remaining empty in the US. This led to a wave of layoffs and furloughs, with 70% of hotel employees in the US losing their jobs or being furloughed.

The impact of the pandemic on the hotel industry has been prolonged, and recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels may not be achieved until 2023 or later. However, there are signs of improvement, with travel restrictions gradually being lifted and vaccination rates increasing. As of May 2021, overseas travel and the opening of all holiday accommodations, including hotels, were permitted in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Additionally, quarantine hotels were phased out in the UK by the end of March 2022.

To adapt to the new normal, hotels are implementing various measures to ensure the safety of their guests and staff. Some hotels are reminding customers about restrictions and requiring proof of no contact with infected individuals upon check-in. Others are conducting temperature checks, offering contactless services, and enhancing cleaning processes. Hotels are also exploring digital and remote services, such as mobile check-ins, to reduce physical contact.

The road to recovery for the hotel industry is expected to be long, and the impact of the pandemic will continue to be felt for some time. However, with the gradual lifting of restrictions and the implementation of safety measures, there is hope for a resurgence in travel and a return to normalcy for the hotel industry.


What are the rules for returning home?

Returning home after living abroad can be a challenging process, and there are several rules and considerations to keep in mind. Here are the key points to help you navigate the transition:

Resident Status and Taxes:

Your resident status is crucial in determining your tax obligations. Non-residents typically pay tax only on their income from the country of residence, while residents pay taxes on their global income. However, there are special rules for residents with permanent homes abroad, and this status usually depends on the number of days spent in the country during the tax year. It is essential to understand these rules to comply with tax regulations and avoid unexpected costs.

Property Management:

If you own property overseas and intend to sell it, engaging an estate agent early in the process is advisable. Selling a property can take longer than expected, even in competitive markets. On the other hand, if you own property in your home country and plan to move back in, you should start planning ahead, especially if you have tenants occupying the space. Renting can be a viable option if you are unsure about owning property or want to explore different areas before settling down.

Pensions and Investments:

Reviewing your pension and investment portfolios is vital. If you have a company pension, understand its benefits and terms, as overseas pensions are typically separate from those in your home country, even with the same employer. Currency exchange fluctuations can impact the value of your overseas pension if you consider transferring it back to your home country. Additionally, check your national insurance records to determine your state pension eligibility. For investments, ensure they are structured efficiently regarding tax residence to avoid unnecessary costs.

Income and Cost of Living:

Any income or gains from the disposal of assets brought into your home country may be subject to income and capital gains tax rules. Review your assets and consider the most tax-efficient strategies before returning. Moreover, research the cost of living in your home country compared to your current location, as costs can vary significantly between countries.

Insurance and Bank Accounts:

Update your insurance policies, as some taken out while living abroad may no longer be valid once you return. Cancel any unnecessary policies to avoid unnecessary expenses. Regarding bank accounts, consider closing overseas accounts to prevent bank charges and simplify your finances.

While the rules and logistics of returning home are essential, the emotional and cultural aspects of repatriation can also be challenging. Many individuals experience "reverse culture shock" and struggle to readapt to their home country's norms and values. This transition can impact your sense of identity and lead to feelings of displacement or confusion. Seeking support and resources to navigate this cultural adjustment can be beneficial.


What are the rules for testing and vaccination?

As of mid-2023, most countries have stopped requiring COVID-19 vaccination for travellers, including the United States. However, some destinations still have mandatory testing requirements for unvaccinated travellers. Examples include the Philippines, Bolivia, and Cameroon, which require unvaccinated travellers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country. Therefore, it is recommended to carry your physical COVID-19 vaccination card when travelling, even if a digital version is also available.

In addition to COVID-19 testing requirements, travellers should also be aware of other standard vaccination requirements for their destination. The CDC's TravWell app can provide recommended vaccines, a checklist, and a personalised packing list for your trip. The CDC also recommends visiting a travel medical clinic to obtain the necessary vaccines, as your primary doctor may not stock travel vaccines.

For travel to certain countries, proof of vaccination for specific diseases may be required. For example, some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before entry, and this proof is usually a signed and stamped International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) card. It is important to note that this proof is not valid until 10 days after receiving the vaccine. Other recommended vaccines may include hepatitis A and B, rabies, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis.

It is important to plan ahead and get vaccinated at least 4 to 6 weeks before travelling, as this allows the vaccines to become effective and provides time for multiple doses if needed. Additionally, some countries may require proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within a certain timeframe before departure. Therefore, staying up-to-date with the latest travel advisories and requirements for your destination is crucial.

Frequently asked questions

It depends on where you are travelling from and to. As of January 15, 2021, more than 50 countries were welcoming US leisure travellers. These included Albania, Ireland, Serbia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom in Europe, and the United Arab Emirates.

It is recommended that you get tested 1-3 days before your flight and have the results before travelling. If you test positive, do not travel. It is also advised that you get tested 3-5 days after your flight and stay home for 7 days after travelling, even if you test negative.

Even if you test negative, it is recommended that you stay home for 7 days after travelling. If you test positive for COVID-19 after you travel, isolate yourself and follow public health recommendations. Do not travel until you are no longer considered a transmission risk.

You will need to carry proof of a negative coronavirus test to travel, even if you are a citizen of the country you are travelling to. You must take the test in the 3 days before you start your journey.

As of May 2021, children were no longer required to wear masks at school in the UK. However, it is recommended that you check the local guidelines of your destination for the most up-to-date information.

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