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Get ready for travel

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Many people are keen to get away to make up for the holidays they’ve missed during the pandemic, and to see family and friends abroad.

For many of us it has been a long time since we travelled abroad, and there have been some changes to travel during this time, such as COVID entry requirements and rules in destinations, as well as from the UK leaving the European Union.

ABTA has prepared a handy checklist to help you get ready for your next foreign trip and we’ve also outlined the measures in place to help keep you safe.

Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find the latest advice for the country you’re visiting. This includes entry requirements related to Covid-19 such as if you need to present proof of vaccination and/or a negative test result, or other entry requirements. You can also sign up to receive country specific email alerts to get important updates.

Check the date your passport expires, and allow plenty of time to renew it if needed – this can often take up to 10 weeks.

When travelling to the EU the UK government recommends that you have at least six months left on your passport. Make sure you know what applies for the country you’re visiting.

The validity is now counted from the issue date not the expiry date, this is because if you renew your passport early, they would have added the extra months on to your new passport, however these extra months no longer count.

For example:

A passport issued on the 12th March 2012 and expires on the 12th December 2022, your passport is now only valid until the 12th March 2022. This is 10 years from the issue date.

Need help? Visit your local post office where they offer a range of services to help you out.

More guidance can be found at abta.com/passports

Make sure you take out comprehensive travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday. Many insurance policies, include different types of cover for COVID-19, such as medical expenses while on holiday or cancellation if you’re unable to travel, so read the policy details carefully to ensure it covers your specific needs.

Check our 'Ready to go' page for for information on travel insurance and other holiday extras!

If you’re travelling to Europe, make sure your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is still in date (cards are valid for five years when issued) and if not, apply for the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Both cards entitle you to state-priced emergency healthcare and some insurers won’t cover all your medical costs if you don’t have an EHIC or GHIC.

There are some changes to travel to Europe now that the UK has left the EU, including passport validity, the documents needed for taking your pet and mobile data roaming. While you don’t yet need a visa for short trips to Europe, you will need a visa if you plan to stay more than 90 days in any 180-day period.

Having read the Foreign Office advice, you'll know the COVID-related travel requirements for your destination. Give yourself plenty of time to get the documentation in order, and make sure you check what format your destination will accept, either digital or paper or both. ABTA’s blog has lots of helpful advice.

You may find it helpful to have paper version of your documents in case your phone/device has a problem/runs out of battery and they can also make it easier if you are travelling as a group.

If you know you’ll need to hire a car or there’s a particular attraction you definitely want to visit, make sure you book in advance to secure your preferences. If you think your plans may change, check to see if there are flexible booking conditions which will allow you to make changes closer to your departure date.

All of the UK’s COVID-19 travel measures have now been removed! So you no longer need to take any tests or fill in any forms on return to the UK.

Don’t forget, there are still rules around what you can and can’t carry in your hand luggage e.g. any liquids you’re taking must be in containers of 100ml or less and placed inside a 20cm x 20cm plastic bag.

When going through security, these liquids and large electrical items like laptops and tablets will need to be taken out and placed in the security tray alongside your hand luggage, and you’ll need to remove certain items of clothing, like coats, belts and boots. Check what rules apply to the airport you’ll be travelling through and read more about the restrictions on Gov.uk.

COVID requirements at home and abroad are changing as we learn to live with Coronavirus, so make sure you revisit the latest advice for your destination and your return to the UK as your departure date nears.

UK airports are currently extremely busy, ensure you allow extra time for getting through the airport security checks.

Many airports offer a fast-track services which enables you to skip the security queues. Contact your local branch for more information regarding this service.

As always, if there is something you are unsure about, speak to your local Travel Branch. They will be able to offer further guidance and the most up-to-date information so you can travel with confidence.

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