Heathrow and Gatwick: The Foreign Office’s latest travel tips for France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal

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In less than a week, lockdown restrictions will be relaxed for the second time this year.
On April 12, people living in England will be allowed to visit pubs, gyms and hairdressers for the first time in 2021.

As the restrictions ease, thoughts undoubtedly turn to the potential of traveling abroad, although it is unfortunately not that straightforward.

As governments around the world grapple with their own vaccine deployments, ongoing lockdown restrictions and economic demand from tourists to return.

Unfortunately, traveling abroad for vacation is still illegal, although there are exemptions for residents of foreign countries, those with spouses abroad, or those traveling for essential reasons.

We checked the latest government travel advice from the Commonwealth and Foreign Affairs Development Office (FDCO). Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.


Red lights adorn the trees to illuminate the Avenue des Champs-Elysées with the Arc de Triomphe in the background for the Christmas and New Year celebrations on November 24, 2020
(Image: 2020 Getty Images)

The advice currently given by the FDCO is not to go to France unless it is essential.

Since March 11, the French government no longer requires that arrivals from the United Kingdom justify an essential reason for travel.

Travelers must present a negative Covid test carried out at least 72 hours before departure. They must also complete an affidavit (sworn statement) stating that they have not exhibited symptoms for at least fifteen days.

Whatever the outcome, arrivals will also have to self-isolate for seven days after arriving in France.

The lockdown situation in France is strict, with all stores except essential ones still closed. Travel between regions of France was banned on April 5, as was the consumption of alcohol in public.

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People on the beach of Platja Nova Icarie beach in Barcelona
(Image: Owen Humphreys / PA Wire)

The FDCO advises against all travel, except essential, in Spain, including the Balearic Islands but excluding the Canary Islands.

As of October 2020, there has been a nationwide state of emergency in Spain – mobility restrictions and curfews remain in place.

Currently, only essential travel is permitted in Spain. A negative Covid test must also be presented.


Surprise, surprise, the FDCO advises against any travel but essential in Italy.

Between March 6 and April 6, entry is only allowed to residents or people in a situation of absolute necessity. A negative Covid test is still necessary.

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Mykonos Old Town Greek Island where it is mandatory to wear a mask due to COVID and where Chelsea players were on vacation and have now contracted the virus

FDCO advises against traveling to Greece for all reasons except for essential reasons, but this does not include the islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu and Crete.

However, only residents of Greece are allowed to enter the country and must show a negative Covid test before traveling.

Travelers must also undergo a rapid Covid test on arrival and must still self-isolate for seven days if the test is negative.


People sunbathe and swim at the beach just minutes away in the resort town of Praia da Luz
(Image: Photo par Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)

Yes, good old FDCO advises against all but essential travel to mainland Portugal, including the Madeira and Azores regions.

Flights between the UK and mainland Portugal are currently suspended and UK nationals in Portugal must travel via another airport to return.

Anyone returning from Portugal will have to self-isolate for seven days, but they will not have to do so in a quarantine hotel.

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