‘Essential foreign travel’: what does it really mean?

On 17 March 2020, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued a COVID-19 Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice, advising British nationals against all but essential international travel.

The FCO is the government department that looks after the safety of British citizens overseas. It collects information from on-the-ground sources, such as embassies, to determine whether it’s safe for UK travellers to visit a destination.

Practically speaking, the FCO’s foreign travel advice indicates whether UK citizens would have access to on-the-ground help in the event of an emergency overseas.

The current circumstances leading to a blanket advisory against all international (and, during lockdown, domestic) travel are exceptional. But the FCO constantly updates its travel advice for 229 world locations affected by conflict or other health- or safety-related issues.

COVID-19 aside, the FCO often advises against non-essential travel in many regions. So what does ‘essential’ actually mean? Skyscanner will help you understand these guidelines and what they mean for you, the traveller.

What’s the definition of ‘essential foreign travel’?

The definition is deliberately vague. If the FCO advises against all non-essential travel somewhere, it means that if you decide to go there you won’t be protected from any risks you encounter. The definition reads like this:

“Whether travel is essential or not is your own decision. You may have urgent family or business commitments to attend to. Circumstances differ from person to person. Only you can make an informed decision based on the risks.”

So long as the COVID-19 pandemic still means border closures and lockdowns in countries all over the world, travelling for a holiday isn’t an option. A small number of commercial flights are still available – some major airlines’ policies are listed here – but only you can decide what qualifies as ‘essential’ enough to be worth the risk.

Note that some countries, such as Spain, UAE and New Zealand, are only allowing their own nationals to enter while the pandemic persists.

To read the full article, visit the original post on the Skyscanner website.

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