You MUST take out fully comprehensive travel insurance. It will normally cover you in the event of cancellation against loss of deposit or cancellation fees and for medical costs in the event of you becoming ill or having an accident whilst on holiday. There are some restrictions on insurance, for example pre-existing medical conditions and you should advise the insurance provider of these at the time the policy is taken out. It is your responsibility to ensure that the insurance cover you purchase is suitable and adequate for your particular needs.
Passports and Visas
Many countries have specific entry requirements for foreign travellers. It may be necessary to obtain a visa before travelling or even to renew your passport if it is due to expire soon. Information regarding passport and visa requirements is available online from World Travel Guide.
Passport holders should apply to renew their passports if there are nine months or less before it expires. Renewal of passports can take a minimum of three weeks to process and could be longer in busy periods. For adults applying for their first passport, this must be done at least six weeks before travel.
For further passport information visit www.ips.gov.uk. Foreign nationals should seek advice from their own country’s UK based embassy or consulate for any passport enquiries.
The governments of some countries require that foreign visitors obtain a visa to gain entry to their country. Check with the consulate, embassy or tourist board of the country to be visited to establish whether or not a visa is required for your visit. For embassy details visit the Foreign Office website www.fco.gov.uk, which has links to all the foreign embassies in the UK.
All travellers to the USA are required to hold a valid visa to gain entry when staying or transiting for more than 8 hours. A physical visa will only be issued to eligible applicants after attending a pre-arranged interview at the US Embassy in London and on payment of a fee of US$160 as at 20.6.2012.
Alternatively, passport holders of most European (including the UK) and selected other countries may apply to enter the USA on the ESTA (visa waiver) programme. An ESTA application must be made online no later than three days prior to arrival. ESTA applications should only be made on the official US government website https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov – using other sites will result in higher charges being levied.
General information about passports, including the biometric type which will be required for the US, can be obtained from the United Kingdom Passport Service.
We advise that all travellers should take up-to-date health advice about the health precautions they will need prior to departure. Information on health is contained in the Department of Health’s leaflet Health Advice for Travellers, which can be obtained by telephoning 0800 555 777. Further information can be obtained online at www.hpa.org or www.fco.gov.uk
It may be also be necessary to take special health precautions when travelling abroad. The Department of Health offers some useful advice www.doh.gov.uk, also the National Health Service www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk or Word Travels www.wordtravels.com. We also recommend that you contact your own GP if you have any concerns about health issues.
Please note that when travelling within the European Union some free or reduced cost medical treatment is available on presentation of a Form E111. If you have an E111 issued prior to 31 December 2004 you must apply for a new form before travelling. During the course of 2005 the UK will be adopting the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This will be automatically issued to those who apply for the new E111 form and tick the box to receive the new card.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides comprehensive and up to date information about travel to countries worldwide. We recommend checking the FCO’s Travel Advice by Country if you are at all unfamiliar with the country you plan to visit.
Medical Web Sites
Airport & Airline Information
More information and other useful tips are on the Frequently Asked Questions page.