This section contains information about current and recent travel, planning future travel, and travel insurance.

As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice. If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return, where and while there are still commercial routes available. Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving.

Advice for British nationals travelling and living overseas is found at:

FCO travel advice for British nationals

Stay-at-home guidance for those returning to the UK from overseas

Previous Public Health England guidance on isolation for those returning from specified countries has been withdrawn and superseded by information in the COVID-19 stay-at-home guidance, which applies to all individuals who develop symptoms regardless of whether they have travelled.

If you have recently returned from overseas you should:

Travel advice for those travelling and living overseas

If you are currently working or travelling overseas you should familiarise yourself with:

  • The FCO travel advice
  • Country-specific official advice from local government authorities and the nearest relevant embassy or diplomatic mission

If you are abroad and cannot travel back to the UK due to the coronavirus outbreak

You should:

  • Check the FCO website for the latest advice for the area you are in
  • Contact your Department immediately to tell them of your situation
  • Consider registering with any local consulates or embassies, who will be able to advise on any updates and evacuation plans for respective nationals

If you had booked travel insurance on the University’s Business Travel Insurance policy before the FCO travel ban, the policy continues to provide cover for medical expenses. You should log into the Chubb portal and extend your cover as required. If you are unsure of the end date you require, please use 30 September 2020.

Please note the University’s Business Travel Insurance policy only applies to employees and graduate students; undergraduate year abroad trips are not covered. 

If you are entitled to free healthcare in your current location, you must use the facilities provided before using the University’s insurance policy.

For more information see the travel insurance advice below.

Travel advice for those planning on travelling overseas

Staff and students planning to travel on University-related business

The FCO has advised British nationals to avoid all non-essential foreign travel. Teaching and research trips – unless directly connected to the fight against COVID-19 and unavoidable – are not considered essential.

Until further notice, University staff and students of all nationalities should avoid any international travel on University business. Staff and students are strongly encouraged to cancel all planned trips on University-related business, including field trips and laboratory placements.

Currently, the University’s Travel Insurance policy is not covering any overseas trips. See the travel insurance section below for further guidance.

This advice also applies to non-British travellers and staff and students overseas who are planning a trip that does not originate in the UK.

Staff and students currently in the UK but planning to return to their country of nationality/permanent residence

If you wish to leave the UK to return to your country of nationality/permanent residence, you should make sure to seek out comprehensive advice before travelling, such as:

  • seek guidance from your airline and/or travel agent
  • contact your Embassy or High Commission in London for information on returning overseas
  • check the official travel advice from local government authorities in your country of nationality/permanent residence

Please be aware that, as is usual, the University’s Travel Insurance policy does not provide cover for staff or student returning home. For further information see the travel insurance guidance below.

Travel insurance

Who is covered?

The University’s travel insurance policy usually covers employees and graduate students travelling overseas to carry out authorised, risk-assessed University-related activities such as:

  • travel to a conference or seminar 
  • meeting with overseas research collaborators 
  • visiting a local library, archives or dig
  • interviewing or taking samples from a local population 

The University’s policy does not cover travelling home to an overseas location (for example, travelling to your family in Spain). This includes if you have decided to leave the UK due to the coronavirus situation.

Travel insurance cover is not provided automatically but must be applied for in advance when arranging the trip. It is subject to Departmental authorisation and risk assessment.

The policy does not cover undergraduate year abroad trips. 

Can I book travel insurance on the University’s Business Travel Insurance policy for an upcoming overseas trip?

Currently, the FCO advise against all non-essential overseas travel. The FCO issue their advice to British nationals only; however, under the insurance policy the same guidance applies to all travellers.​You should not be booking travel insurance for overseas trips as your booking will be invalid and claims will not be covered. This includes trips to carry out activities classed as University-related (outlined above), unless directly connected to the fight against COVID-19.

As usual, travelling home to an overseas location is not considered University business and will not be covered.

The University’s Insurance Section cannot help you arrange private travel or health insurance.

Travel insurance for students who are travelling home

Some Departments are authorising students’ trips home under the Leave To Work Away procedure (LTWA). Please be aware that any new travel insurance applications made to support LTWA applications are invalid, for two reasons:

  • such trips are not considered University business by the insurer
  • currently, the FCO advises against all non-essential overseas travel (only unavoidable trips connected to the fight against COVID-19 would be considered essential)

It is technically possible to make travel insurance applications on the Chubb portal; however, these cannot be relied upon for assistance or reimbursement.

If you are planning a business trip later in the year

At the moment you should avoid booking trips for later in the year. If you must book ahead, any travel should only be booked with fully flexible arrangements. Hopefully, at least some travel restrictions will be lifted later in the year and business trips will become possible again. For the time being, the policy is not providing cover for new trips, due to the FCO travel ban.

If the FCO ​— and the University — lift the travel ban before your intended departure, you would be covered as follows:

1. Covered for emergency medical expenses (whether related to COVID-19 or not).

2. The policy normally also covers emergency repatriation; however, under the circumstances, you are unlikely to be repatriated and instead you will be treated at your destination.

3. Cancellation, curtailment and rearrangement expenses will NOT be covered if they are incurred as a result of regulations or order made by any Public Authority or Government.

If the FCO do not lift the ban before your intended departure, you have no cover at all. Please note the FCO advice applies to all travellers, whether they are British or not. Travellers overseas must also follow the advice of local authorities and the local equivalent of the FCO.

Can I claim on the University’s travel insurance?

If you booked travel insurance after the FCO advised against all non-essential travel, your insurance will be invalid and claims will not be covered. This includes claims for travel cancellations.

However, if you booked travel insurance in good faith at a time when the FCO was not yet advising against travel to your destination, you may be able to claim for cancellations, medical expenses or self-isolation while travelling.

All travel insurance claims should be notified directly to our insurer (Chubb), providing you have arranged travel insurance through them in advance of your trip. You must liaise directly with Chubb using the online claims portal because the University's Insurance Section does not deal with travel claims.

Chubb will review each claim under its own merits. The Insurance Section is unable to comment on individual claims. As general guidelines, we can advise the following:

  • cover is subject to the trip being on University business, authorised and risk assessed by the Department.
  • it is not possible to book insurance once it is already known that a claim is likely to be submitted.
  • the reason for the claim must be outside the control of the Insured (the University) and the Insured Person (the traveller), e.g. cancellation by the conference organisers, rather than a decision not to travel. Additionally, there is an exclusion in the policy regarding 'any expenses incurred as a result of regulations or order made by any Public Authority or Government'.

Please see the Travel Claim Decision Tree [PDF] that might help evaluate your individual situation.

Once they have reviewed the claim, Chubb will confirm if they will accept it.