Aga Khan Economic Planning Board for the United Kingdom
Travel Guidance Regarding COVID-19
(Last Updated: 22nd May 2020)

The AKEPB’s mandate is to support the Jamat with their economic wellbeing. In this time of uncertainty triggered by the outbreak of COVID-19, this document serves to address frequently asked questions (FAQ) on travel guidance to and from the United Kingdom.

The Jamat is advised to regularly refer to guidance provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), where official travel updates are issued on a daily basis:


Q) What are the most recent updates from the FCO on travelling abroad?

• In response to the outbreak of COVID-19 worldwide, the FCO has advised against all but essential international travel “indefinitely”
The FCO has advised against all travel on cruise ships for passengers aged 70 years and over or those with high-risk conditions. Some destinations are placing bans on cruise ships docking or passengers disembarking, including Australia, Chile, Colombia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro and Portugal
• Separately, other countries have COVID-19 restrictions in place for people entering the country: the Jamat is advised to check the instructions provided by the foreign ministry of a particular country before entering

Q) What has been the new rules for foreign arrivals arriving into the UK?

The government has announced that people arriving in the UK from abroad must self-isolate for 14 days from 8th of June:

• Arrivals will be required to travel directly from their port or airport of arrival, preferably by car, to an address where they must then self-isolate for a fortnight, which will allow public health authorities to frequently trace and monitor
• There will be fines of up to £1,000 for breaking the rules and some repeat offenders could be removed from the UK. Others could be refused entry if they are found to have provided false information
• Freight drivers and some medical professionals will be among those who are exempt from the quarantine requirements, as will all those travelling from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
• This measure will be reviewed every three weeks

Q) What has been the recent advice for UK nationals who have travelled abroad?

• The FCO has announced a new partnership with commercial airlines including British Airways, Virgin, EasyJet, Jet2 and Titan Airways to bring back home UK Nationals
• Where commercial routes do not exist, the government will provide up to £75 million to enable special charter flights to priority countries to bring back UK residents
• If there are no special charter flights for the country you’re in, follow the guidance in the ‘Return to the UK’ section of that country’s travel advice:

Q) What has been the notice surrounding COVID-19 repatriation flights and which countries have been impacted?

• The government is chartering special flights, to bring British people travelling abroad back to the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. These will fly from some countries where commercial flights are no longer operating. For more information, please visit:
• Special charter flights from India to the UK organised by the British Government will commence 6 April 2020. For more details, please visit:

Q) What should be done if UK nationals are unable to return home?

• In cases where UK nationals are unable to return home, travellers should follow the advice of local authorities, including local measures to help minimise exposure
• This may include remaining in a hotel room or accommodation for 14 days; being moved to quarantine facilities; being tested for COVID-19 and, if positive, in some cases, hospitalisation abroad

Q) What do I need to know/do should I wish to travel?

• Anyone still considering to travel should be realistic about the level of disruption they are willing and able to endure, and to make decisions considering the unprecedented conditions we face
• The FCO is not advising UK nationals to immediately return to the UK, but says that people should “keep in mind that flights may be cancelled at short notice or other travel restrictions may be put in place by foreign governments”
• Certain countries have travel restrictions in place that may affect UK nationals (who do not have residencies in other countries). These include quarantine measures, border closures, flight suspensions and health screenings
• The Jamat is advised to regularly refer to guidance provided by The Guardian where specific restrictions across countries are updated daily:

Q) What are your travel rights in the case of cancellation?

• In most cases that your flight is cancelled, the entity with which you made your booking – airline, hotel or travel agent – will refund your booking or give you an option to change your dates. However, it is important to check with the airline / travel agent on what compensation is available to you
• You should be entitled to a refund if your flight has been cancelled, or if the FCO has updated its advice so that your holiday destination is no longer safe to travel to
• Should there be issues obtaining a refund from an airline, or it has been longer than eight weeks since you filed a complaint, you can contact the relevant alternative dispute resolution (ADR) body that your airline is signed up to

Q) Is it possible to voluntarily cancel or rebook travel plans?

• Compensation for cancelled travel plans depends on the terms and conditions of your travel insurance
• However, many airlines, including British Airways, EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic, are currently permitting free refunds or free rebooking of flights
• Many hotels are offering free refunds or the option to rebook, but this depends on the hotel’s own policies
• If your booking was over £100 and paid by credit card directly (i.e. not using an intermediary such as PayPal), your credit card company is also liable under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974
• If your booking was paid by debit card, a refund can be processed as a charge-back
• In short, contact your holiday provider/airline/hotel in the first instance should you wish to cancel or rebook

Q) Which precautionary measures should you take before you travelling?

• Make sure that you have appropriate travel insurance and check with your travel insurance provider to check what medical coverage you are entitled to if you contract COVID-19 abroad and require urgent medical assistance.

Q) What is the impact on Immigration-related cases?

• The Home Office has provided further immigration-related guidance associated with COVID-19
• The guidance applies to holders of UK visas and those applying for UK visas from both in and outside the UK, as well as British nationals overseas who need to apply for a passport
• The link from an external law firm provides further clarity on this guidance: