MSE News

Coronavirus travel rights

Latest on UK and overseas travel rules, plus refunds and insurance help

Coronavirus travel rights

We've the latest on the testing and self-isolation rules for travellers visiting popular destinations abroad, plus full refund and insurance rights for overseas and UK travel.

Important: The info below is the best we have currently, but we'll be updating this guide. If you've a question that isn't covered below, please let us know at news@moneysavingexpert.com (though unfortunately we can't respond to every email).

Overseas holidays – where can you go?

Even if the UK Government says it's OK to travel, there's no guarantee your destination will let you in. For example, there are no warnings against travel to the USA but it currently won't let in unvaccinated Brits from the UK. 

Plus, even where there's no outright ban, there may be other restrictions in place, eg, you may have to provide a negative coronavirus test and/or quarantine on arrival. Rules can also change unexpectedly. So before booking anything it's crucial to make sure you fully understand the financial risk, and book flexibly wherever possible.

Check the Foreign Office website, as well as directly with the country itself (or its UK embassy website), for the latest. The Foreign Office's advice is also key for travel insurance cover and your rights to a refund. If it advises against "all but essential travel" or "all travel", you aren't supposed to go, and this may trigger a refund – see more on refund rights if the Foreign Office warns against travel below. Travelling in defiance of the advice may also invalidate your insurance.

Top holiday destinations – what are their rules?

The table below, which we're updating regularly, shows the latest situation for 20 of the top travel destinations for Brits. It details where tests are needed pre-departure, though you may also need to take a test at the airport and quarantine if it comes back positive.

WARNING: Some destinations' entry requirements take into account the length of time since your last Covid vaccine shot. For example, travellers to France must've had their second jab in the past nine months (or had a third jab). You may need to follow extra entry requirements and testing rules if your jab was given before this – so double check before travelling.

Some countries also require that travellers fill in a passenger locator form on arrival. You'll often be asked if you've been in the company of a confirmed coronavirus case in the days prior to travelling. For example, Spain will deny entry if you've been in contact with someone with a positive case within seven days before you travel. So do check this beforehand. But don't get caught out thinking you have to pay for these forms. They'll always be available free of charge on the Government website in the destination you arrive in. 

Always check for yourself before travelling or planning to travel, as this is a fast-moving situation – if you spot something in the table that needs updating, please let us know.

Top holiday destinations – what are their entry rules and restrictions?

TABLE_CELL_STYLE Destination rules if fully vaccinated Rules if not fully vaccinated
Australia

- Entry allowed

- No quarantine or test required

- Entry not allowed for short-term holidaymakers (1)

Austria

- Entry allowed

- No quarantine or test required

Barbados
- Entry allowed
- No quarantine or test required
- Entry only allowed with negative test
Canada

- Entry allowed

- No quarantine or test required

- Entry not allowed (u18s can enter with negative test but must quarantine for 14 days & take additional tests on arrival; u12s can enter with negative test with fully vaccinated adult (1); u5s exempt)
Croatia

- Entry allowed

- No quarantine or test required

France

- Entry only allowed if within 9mths of 2nd jab OR you've had 3rd jab (no time limit applies)

- No quarantine or test required

- Entry only allowed with negative test or proof of recovery within last 6mths (u12s exempt)

Germany

- Entry allowed

- No quarantine or test required

Gibraltar

- Entry allowed

- No quarantine or test required

Greece (incl

islands)

- Entry allowed

- No quarantine or test required

Italy (mainland, Sardinia and Sicily)

- Entry allowed

- No quarantine or test required 

Malta
- Entry allowed
- No quarantine or test required
- Entry allowed with negative test (u5s exempt)
Portugal (mainland and Azores)

- Entry only allowed if within 270 days of 2nd jab OR you've had 3rd jab (no time limit applies)

- No quarantine or test required

- Entry only allowed with negative test (u12s exempt) or proof of recovery in past 180 days

- No quarantine

Portugal (Madeira)

- Entry allowed

- No quarantine or test required

Spain (incl Balearic

and Canary Islands)

- Entry only allowed if within 270 days of 2nd jab OR you've had 3rd jab (no time limit applies)
- No quarantine or test required

- Entry only allowed with negative test (u12s exempt) or proof of recovery in last 6mths

- No quarantine 

Switzerland

- Entry allowed

- No quarantine or test required

The Netherlands

- Entry only allowed if within 270 days of 2nd jab OR you've had 3rd jab (no time limit applies)

- No quarantine or test required

- Entry not allowed (u18s can enter with negative test; u12s exempt from testing, those aged 13-18 must quarantine for min 5 days)

Turkey

- Entry allowed

- No quarantine or test required

United Arab

Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Dubai)

- Entry allowed
- No quarantine or test required 

- Entry only allowed with negative test or recovery certificate within 30 days (u12s exempt)

- No quarantine

USA

- Entry allowed

- No quarantine required or test required

- Entry not allowed (u18s can enter with negative test; u2s exempt from testing)

Last fully checked 22 June 2022 – please let us know if you spot anything that needs updating. Info provided assumes you only hold a UK passport, that you're travelling for tourism reasons from the UK, and that you've not been outside of the UK in the days prior to leaving. Transit rules may vary so check. (1Eligible visa holders can travel to and from Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption. All other temporary visa holders must apply for a travel exemption

How can I prove my vaccination status?

Here's how to prove your vaccination status (travellers across the UK who have a had a booster jab will now be able to use the NHS Covid Pass to display and confirm that they've received a third shot):

  • In England, if you're registered with a GP the Government says you can use the existing NHS health app to show your vaccination status when abroad – though it's best to check your destination will accept this before travelling. Alternatively, you can request paper validation online or by calling 119.

  • In Northern Ireland, if you're travelling within the next three months, you can request a digital certificate and QR code online. Or, you can request a paper version by calling 0300 200 7814.

  • In Scotland, you can view your vaccination record online or request a copy via the Covid-19 Status Helpline.

  • In Wales, you can access your digital vaccination record online or request a paper certificate if you can't use the digital service or need a bilingual copy.

Testing rules for UK arrivals

As of 4am on Friday 18 March, all Covid requirements for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers entering the UK have been scrapped.
 
This means fully vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers are no longer required to fill in a passenger locator form, take a pre-departure test, post-arrival test or self-isolate on arrival. 

If my flight or holiday is cancelled, can I get a refund? 

With millions of trips cancelled as a result of the pandemic and ongoing uncertainty, you may be concerned about what happens if you can't go.

Fear not. Whether you're looking at booking a new trip or trying to get a refund for a cancelled one, we've a round-up of your rights below. (The following applies to overseas and UK bookings, but for extra help on your rights domestically, see UK holiday bookings below.)

Travel firms SHOULD refund you for cancelled trips – though many have dragged their feet

As a general rule, if you've paid for a trip and then the travel firm cancels, you should be due a refund. You may see more cancellations as travel firms reduce schedules in the face of more restrictions and falling demand.

Yet refunds haven't always proved easy with cancellations due to the pandemic. While coronavirus has been devastating across the travel industry, firms have been treating customers in very different ways – as shown by several major MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) surveys we ran last year.

  • Travel firms named and shamed for refund performances – what did MSE's poll find?

    A poll we ran between 19 November and 4 December 2020 – which was our third looking at refunds for those unable to travel due to coronavirus – asked travel firms' customers about their refund experience. We asked them to rate it as 'great', 'OK' or 'poor' (and to say if they actually got a refund) – we had 42,653 individual responses.

    Big names with dire overall feedback included Lastminute.com, with just 8% of customers telling us they'd had a full refund, while Teletext Holidays (12%), Loveholidays (32%) and Ryanair (33%) also performed poorly.

    On the other side of the coin, Jet2 Holidays and Jet2 had the highest proportion of full refunds, with 89% of customers of both brands whose bookings were cancelled saying they'd had their money back. Hays Travel also did well, with 73% reporting full refunds. For full details, see our Covid travel refunds MSE News story.

Even if some firms have previously been slow to refund customers, your right to a refund is clear:

  • With most cancelled flights, you're due a full refund within seven days. Most cancelled flights will fall under flight delay rules (which have been written into UK law, and cover all flights leaving the UK or EU, as well as flights to the UK/EU on a UK/EU airline). These state you're entitled to choose between:
    • EITHER a refund for the flight that was cancelled.
    • OR an alternative flight (airlines call this re-routing) to your destination.

    We've seen some airlines pushing customers towards getting a voucher instead, but you are absolutely entitled to a refund in this situation. In theory and according to the law, this should also be paid in seven days, though aviation regulator the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) acknowledged it was "very challenging" for airlines to sort it that quickly at the height of the pandemic. While refund backlogs should now have been cleared, refunds may still take longer in the future if restrictions suddenly change and there's a spate of cancellations.

    If your airline ignores your complaint or you don't get the outcome you're after, you can use an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme. See the CAA's website for info on which airline is a member of which scheme. If an airline isn't signed up to an ADR scheme you may be able to complain directly to the CAA instead. 
  • With cancelled package holidays, you're due a full refund within 14 days. Package holidaymakers whose trips are cancelled are also entitled to all their money back under the Package Travel Regulations.

    Technically you're due this refund within two weeks, but in practice it could be longer – the Chartered Trading Standards Institute previously told us that insisting on a 14-day turnaround could be tricky given the volume of refunds travel firms were grappling with. While most of these backlogs should now have been cleared, it may still be advisable to show forbearance and not push the law as far as it can technically go on the timescale. But the important thing is that you are due a refund.

  • With other travel bookings (hotels, car hire etc), the rules are less clear-cut but you SHOULD still get a refund. Generally speaking, if the service you have booked isn't provided, you should be refunded – and that's a principle the UK competition watchdog has clearly supported. Enforcing it may be tricky though, especially if the firm is abroad where local laws may be different to those in the UK – so there are no guarantees.

    Some countries may require you to show a negative test result on arrival. If you've taken the test but the trip is then cancelled, you need to contact the provider you ordered the test from to see if it'll refund you – but there are no guarantees. If you've paid for the test but not yet taken it as your trip was cancelled, you may find providers are more willing to give refunds.

Quick info & questions
  • If my outbound flight's cancelled but the return isn't, what are my refund rights?

    The standard flight cancellation rules (which have now been written into UK law) state that if your flight is cancelled you are entitled to choose between a full refund or an alternative flight. If you've booked a specific return deal with the same airline and one leg is cancelled, you would expect a refund for both parts.

    However some say they've struggled to get refunds, and it may be because some budget airlines don't consider it a return flight but two individual flights.

    There's no easy answer here, and we need to be straight – we're still researching this (please do feedback your experiences) and hope to add more info as we get it. In the meantime, here's our provisional list of what to try:

    • Get in touch with the airline. The start point is always to contact the airline and ask. Before things get militant, you may just find you're pushing at an open door – we have certainly heard of a few (but not many so far) refunds in these circumstances.

    • Under flight rules, you can push for a refund. So if softly softly fails, let's start to consider the rules. EU regulation 261/2004, which has now been written into UK law, gives specific cancellation rights for EU-regulated flights, which is defined as:

      – Any flight departing from the UK/EU
      – Any flight arriving in the UK/EU provided it's operated by a UK/EU airline

      Within these rules, it states that what counts in terms of getting a refund for the return flight if the outbound flight is cancelled is if the flights are part of the same 'booking'. If they are, you should be offered a full refund on both flights.

      Sadly, the Civil Aviation Authority has admitted the precise definition of the same booking can be a grey area – for example, it says if you booked through a ticket agent and the two legs are with different airlines, it wouldn't count as the same booking. One key help though is if the outbound and return flights have the same reservation numbers. If so, then:

      1) Contact the airline and ask for a refund in writing.

      2) If this doesn't work or you don't hear back, you can make an official complaint and demand a refund. You may also be able to escalate your complaint to an alternative dispute resolution service – most are free to use, though double-check first as some may charge fees. See our Flight Cancellations guide for more info.

      3) If you've no luck speaking to the airline and you paid by debit or credit card, you could try and get a refund from your bank or card provider under the chargeback scheme, or Section 75 legal protection if you paid £100+ on a credit card. (Though while it's rare, after that the airline can dispute this and push for the money back – so don't think once it's in your account it's done and dusted.)
    • If you booked the flights before the pandemic and had travel insurance in place then too, speak to your insurer. You may be able to claim (assuming your policy covered pandemic cancellations), as clearly an unusable return flight is a knock-on cost.

      However, most insurers are pushing for people to go the whole way with their airline first before they will provide cover. That doesn't necessarily mean they are right to insist on you exhausting every possible avenue with the airline first, just that it isn't easy. So if your insurer isn't paying out when you feel it should, again you can take it to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

    We hope to add more detail to this section, so do check back. Plus please do feedback your experiences.

  • Can a travel agent charge me a 'cancellation fee' if my flight or holiday is cancelled?

    We've heard from MoneySavers who have had 'cancellation charges' of up to £75 per person taken off their refunds by their travel agent after an airline or package holiday firm has cancelled their trip.

    Travel agents' association ABTA says agents ARE allowed to do this, as long as this is included in their T&Cs – though if in doubt, check what you agreed to when you booked.

    Yet even if a travel agent does cover this in their terms, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute told us there's a chance it may not be a "fair term", so might not be allowed. It told us it couldn't comment on whether such terms are fair at this stage, or whether holidaymakers can successfully challenge these fees – but if you think a cancellation charge is unfair, contact your travel agent and ask it to justify the fairness of its fees.

    Also note that tour operators and airlines can't charge you a cancellation fee if you booked direct, so if this happens, make sure you demand a refund in full.

  • Refund credit notes are protected

    The Government and the Air Travel Trust will protect credit note refunds issued since 10 March 2020 for ATOL-protected bookings that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning those who accept them will get their money back if the travel firm goes bust.

    If you opt for a refund credit note, you can choose at any point up to 30 September 2022 to cash it in for a refund or to rebook another trip instead (the initial deadline was 30 September 2021, but this has been extended). The Government's said it would give a month's notice before ending the scheme.

    See our Government to protect refund credit notes MSE News story for full info on how to check if your refund credit note is protected.

  • Can I get a refund paid to my credit card transferred to my bank?

    Those who receive holiday refunds get it returned to the payment method used. This can often mean being £1,000s in credit on credit cards. And many have contacted us worried that they'll pay the usual 3%-ish fee to pay this into their bank account – yet those are money transfer fees, for shifting debt.

    If you're significantly in credit, you should be able to ask your provider to transfer the credit back into your bank account free of charge. You can do this by getting in touch with your provider directly and requesting a "refund of credit balance".

    All the providers we spoke to, including major names such as BarclaycardHSBC and Lloyds, told us they offer this service to customers.

    But if your provider refuses to transfer your credit back to you for free for some reason, you can appeal to the Financial Ombudsman – and do so on the grounds that it's not following standard industry practice. There's full info on how to do this in our Financial Ombudsman guide.

  • I've been 'forced' to accept a voucher - can I challenge it and get a cash refund?

    If you accept a voucher or you felt you were given no choice but to take vouchers then whether you can later change that for a cash refund will likely be determined on a case-by-case basis. But you can try the following steps: 

    • Step 1: Complain to the airline directly. As outlined above, when an airline cancels flights, you're entitled to a full cash refund or alternative flight under 'EU 261' rules (which apply to all flights leaving the UK and to flights to the UK with a UK or EU airline). Refunds can be paid by voucher but only with the signed agreement of passengers. 
    • Step 2: If unsuccessful, take your complaint to the relevant ombudsman. If an airline ignores your complaint or it doesn't offer the resolution you want, you can use an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme. Check which one your airline is signed up to using the CAA's website
    • Step 3: You could try claiming on your insurance or via your card provider but it may be a long shot, particularly with insurance. If you don't want to go to court, which is the final step, you could try the following, though there are no guarantees of success: 

      - If you paid by debit or credit card, you can try getting money back via your card firm. Card firms often give money back (sometimes by law) when you don't get the service you paid for, eg, if a flight is cancelled. It's often easier claiming from an airline but if you don't get a refund then ask the card company.

      Yet if you're given vouchers instead of cash it's a grey area as the card provider may argue the voucher is the refund even if you don't think so. If you paid on credit card for something costing more than £100 then you can try under Section 75. If you paid by debit card or your flight was less than £100 on credit card then try Chargeback.

      - You can try speaking to your insurer but you may struggle to get a payout. 
      Most travel insurers no longer cover Covid-related cancellations unless it's because you get Covid. It's even harder when you argue you should have got cash instead of a voucher as the insurer may claim the voucher is the refund so to them the case is closed. 
  • I rebooked using a voucher and my trip's been cancelled again – can I get a cash refund?

    We've been asked this a lot, so we put it to aviation regulator the Civil Aviation Authority. It told us that if you accept a voucher for a cancelled flight and use it to book a second flight, you're subject to the T&Cs of the second booking – and these will often state that if you booked using a voucher, you can only get a voucher back if the flight is later cancelled. 

    In essence, the second booking will generally be regarded as a completely new transaction with no reference to the previous booking – though it's worth checking directly with the airline as T&Cs can vary.

    It's also worth noting that the above doesn't apply to package holidays – if your package holiday is cancelled by the travel firm, you're entitled to a full cash refund regardless of how you made the booking. For more info on the extra protection you get with package holidays, see our Holiday Rights guide.

Struggling to get a refund? You can also try your card firm or insurer – though there are no guarantees

If you're having real difficulties getting the refund you're owed for a cancelled trip, there are other avenues you can try – though none are guaranteed to work:

  • You may be able to claim from your card firm. If you paid by debit or credit card, you can also try getting money back via your card firm. Try claiming from your card provider under chargeback (or Section 75).

    Under chargeback, which isn't a legal requirement, just a customer service promise, your bank will try to get money back from the bank of the firm you bought from – you can try it on debit card purchases and those which are less than £100. Alternatively, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if you pay for something costing between £100 and £30,000 on a credit card, the card firm's equally liable if something goes wrong, so you may be able to claim. See full Section 75 and Chargeback info.


    MSE founder Martin Lewis suggests you try chargeback first though: "Even if you actually have a credit card and qualify for Section 75, I wouldn't ask for that at this stage. I would ask for a chargeback. That's because under the chargeback process, which is part of the Visa, Mastercard or Amex rules, your bank is asking for money back from the holiday firm's bank, which your bank is unlikely to have an issue doing."

  • You can try speaking to your insurer... but it's tricky. Most travel insurers have told us if you're entitled to a refund from a firm you've booked with, you'll need to chase that firm for a refund rather than claim on your insurance. 

    Just because insurers say they won't accept your claims though, that doesn't mean there's no point trying. Insurers want to avoid paying out when they can and, while you should seek a refund from the provider first when you're legally owed one, if you're really struggling, ask your insurer if it can help – even if it's by goodwill. Plus if you are unhappy with your insurer's decision you can also take it to the independent arbitrator, the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

  • If all else fails, there's the legal route. We've put this last because it could cost money, may be time-consuming and you'll need to weigh up seriously whether the sum you're chasing is worth it. How you do it will depend on what you're claiming for. A good first step may be to threaten court action in a letter – then you could end up having to file a county court claim online. See our Small Claims Court guide for full help.

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If my flight or holiday goes ahead but I don't want to travel – or can't – what are my rights? 

NB: Here we're only talking about trips, either overseas or within the UK, which AREN'T cancelled by the firm you booked with. If your trip is cancelled, see above for full help on how to get a refund.

Important. Check refund policies and DON'T automatically rush to cancel your trip yourself

The table below goes through different airline, tour operator etc refund policies. If you can't go and you can get a refund, then simply claim that money back and you're done.

 

But if you're not certain to get a refund, and your trip has NOT been cancelled by the firm you booked with, don't make a rash decision and automatically cancel the trip yourself. That's because if it later cancels it (given how fluid the situation is, that may yet happen) you're due a refund, so it's a bit of cat and mouse.

 

However, don't leave it too late and miss out on a voucher or the ability to change the ticket, as there are often deadlines to invoke these policies. Even if there's a fee, that's better than losing all your money.

 

Remember, though – if you booked a cancellable hotel, or your airline lets you cancel for no charge, then you can cancel at will.

Unable to travel due to lockdown restrictions or is a border you want to cross closed? You may get a refund

We've an overview of the different scenarios, and what your travel firm or airline should do for you in each:

  • Your trip's still going ahead but lockdown restrictions don't allow you to travel. General guidance from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) states that you should get a full refund if it would be illegal for you to use a booking, for example, if there's a full lockdown or 'stay at home' directive in place.

    Yet this isn't a definitive interpretation of the law, and the CMA has been investigating travel firms which only seem to offer vouchers in this scenario – so getting a refund may not always be plain sailing. Plus if you've flights that start in other countries, or hotels booked there, you're at the mercy of your travel provider and the country it's governed by.

  • You can go on the trip but your destination won't let you in. If your trip is still going ahead AND you can leave your region BUT the destination you're going to won't let you in, then you're also at the mercy of your travel provider – check its cancellation policy to see if it'll refund you. The Package Travel Regulations may, however, offer some protection for package holidaymakers if your destination won't let you in - as this could be seen as a significant change to your trip meaning a full refund is due, even if you cancel - but check first. 

  • You can leave your area, and your destination will let you in, but you simply don't want to travel. You're unlikely to get your money back as the provider is still offering the service you booked, unless you have a flexible flight and/or flexible or cancellable hotel booking.

If your flight or holiday is still running, even travel insurance is unlikely to cover you (though there are some rare exceptions). The same goes for those who simply change their mind – travel insurance won't cover this scenario. See more in I've bought travel insurance – am I covered? below.

What are travel providers' cancellation and rebooking policies?

The table below covers the cancellation policies of major travel firms, split into your rights when the firm cancels and your rights when you cancel – this applies for usually inflexible tickets.

Be aware though that the situation is changing fast, so it's best to double-check with your travel provider directly before making any decisions:

Travel firm cancellation and rebooking rights

Travel firm Refund policy if firm cancels Refund policy if you cancel
Airbnb Full refund Refunds vary depending on how far in advance you cancel and the host's booking policy. Eg, can usually get full refund if you cancel 24hrs+ before check-in if host has 'flexible' policy or 5 days+ before check-in if 'moderate flexibility'. Cancellation fees apply with other policies and service fees may be non-refundable depending on your booking history
British Airways Some flights may be cancelled (check yours here) – full refund, voucher or rebooking

If you made your booking before 8 June 2022 for travel due to be completed by 30 September 2022, you can change your dates, destination or even cancel if you need to, with no booking fee, although a fare difference may still apply.

 

If your booking falls outside of these dates standard delays, cancellation and refund options are applicable.

Easyjet Full refund, voucher or rebooking Full refund, voucher or rebooking if a travel ban means you can't fly. Otherwise cancellation fees may apply
Eurostar Full refund Rearrange trip fee-free (must pay fare difference) up to seven days before departure. If it's less than seven days before departure, Standard and Standard Premier ticket holders will need to pay an exchange fee to change their booking
Hoseasons Full refund, voucher or rebooking Full refund if proof of positive Covid test. If you cancel for non-Covid reasons, refunds depend on how long before arrival you notify Hoseasons eg, 7 days or less = 5% refund, between 57 and 70 days = 50% refund, 70+ days = loss of deposit
Jet2 Full refund Full refund if destination has mandatory quarantine that you can't exit with negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination (must request 3+ days before departure). Otherwise change/cancellation fees apply
Logan Air Full refund or rebooking Full refund or rebooking (but must pay any fare difference) if new UK Govt restrictions mean you legally can't fly. Otherwise change/cancellation fees apply
Loveholidays

Full refund or rebooking

 

May be able to rebook without fees in some cases (but must pay any fare difference). Otherwise cancellation fees apply
Ryanair Full refund or rebooking You can rearrange trips up to 2.5 hours before departure but you must pay any fare difference and change fees apply (£45 per passenger online or £60 per passenger at the airport)
Tui Full refund or rebooking May be able to rebook without fees in some cases (but must pay any fare difference). Otherwise cancellation fees apply
Virgin Atlantic Full refund, voucher or rebooking For flights booked on or after 23 December 2021, for travel up to 31 December 2022, there is no fee to rebook. You can also claim a refund voucher to be used by 30 Apr 23

The information in this table is constantly changing. This was the situation when we last checked on 22 June 2022.

How long do airline refund vouchers last?

Many airlines have offered customers refunds through the provision of airline vouchers. The table in the drop-down menu below covers the voucher policies of a number of major airlines.

Be aware, however, that the situation is changing fast, so it's best to double-check with your airline if you're unsure when your voucher expires.

  • Voucher policies by airline

    Airline When you need to redeem vouchers by (i) (ii)
    Aegean Airline 18 months from issue
    Aer Lingus 5 years from issue 
    Aerflot 3 years from issue
    Aeromexico 1 year from issue
    Air Algérie Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Air Astana 1 year from issue
    Air Baltic 1 year from issue
    Air Canada No expiry date
    Air China Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Air Europa 1 year from issue
    Air France Vouchers issued on or after 1 Jan 2021: valid for 1 year from date of issue
    Air India Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Air Malta 1 year from issue
    Air Mauritius 2 years from issue
    Air Serbia Use by expiry date on voucher
    Air Transat No expiry date 
    All Nippon Airways Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    American Airlines 1 year from date of issue
    Asiana Airlines Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Aurigny 1 year from issue for flights between 12 Mar 2020 and 31 Oct 2022 (no vouchers issued for flights outside these dates) 
    Avianca Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Azerbaijan Airlines 3 years from issue
    Biman Bangladesh Airlines Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    British Airways 30 Sep 2023 but you must depart and return by this date
    Brussels Airlines By expiry date on voucher
    Bulgaria Air Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Cathay Pacific Vouchers must be redeemed and trip completed by 31 Dec 2022
    China Airlines Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    China Eastern Airlines Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    China Southern Airlines Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Croatia Airlines 2 years from issue
    Czech Airlines 1 year from issue
    Delta 1 year from issue but some tickets have been extended to 31 Dec 2022
    Eastern Airways Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    easyJet 1 year from issue
    EgyptAir Use by the expiry date on your voucher
    El Al Use by the expiry date on your voucher
    Emirates 1 year from issue
    Ethiopian Airlines 1 year from issue
    Etihad Airways 1 year from issue
    Eurowings 3 years from issue but can travel up to 1 year after expiry
    EVA Air Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Finnair 31 Aug 2022 but can travel up to 1 year after expiry
    Gulf Air Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Hainan Airlines Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Iberia Use by the expiry date on your voucher
    Icelandair 3 years from issue but can travel up to 1 year after expiry
    Iran Air Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Japan Airlines Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Jet2 Six months from issue
    Kenya Airways Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    KLM Vouchers issued on or after 1 Jan 2021: Valid 1 year from issue
    Korean Air Use and travel by 31 Dec 2022
    Kuwait Airways Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    LATAM 1 year from issue
    Loganair Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    LOT Polish Airlines 2 years from issue
    Lufthansa 3 years of issue
    Malaysia Airlines By 31 Dec 2022
    Middle East Airlines Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Norweigan Air Shuttle Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Oman Air Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Pakistan International Airlines Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Philippine Airlines 1 year from issue
    Qantas

    - Flight credit issued after 31 Jan 2019 for bookings made by 30 Sep 2021: Valid for bookings and travel until 31 Dec 2023

     

    - Flight credit for bookings made from 1 Oct 2021: Valid 1 year from issue

    Qatar Airways 2 years from issue
    Royal Air Maroc 1 year from issue
    Royal Brunei Airlines 1 year from issue
    Royal Jordanian 2 years from issue
    Rwandair Use by expiry date on voucher
    Ryanair 1 year from issue but can be extended once
    Saudia Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Scandinavian Airlines 1 year from issue
    Schenzhen Airlines Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Singapore Airlines Credit for flights booked before 15 Mar 2020 (vouchers not offered after this date): Valid for travel up till 30 Jun 2022 
    Sri Lankan Airlines 1 year from issue
    TAP Portugal Use by expiry date on voucher
    TAROM Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Thai Airways 31 Dec 2022
    Tunisair Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Turkish Airlines 2 years from issue
    Ukraine International Airlines 2 years from issue
    United Airlines Vouchers issued on or before 31 Dec 2021: Valid until 31 Dec 2022
    Uzbekistan Airlines 1 year from issue
    Vietnam Airlines 1 year from issue
    Virgin Atlantic Use and complete trip by 30 Apr 2023
    Vistara Doesn't offer refund vouchers
    Vueling Use by expiry date on voucher
    WestJet 2 years from issue
    WizzAir 1 year from issue

    Last updated 22 June 2022. For full details on each airline's policy, click on the associated link in the first column. (i) If we've not listed separate dates you need to travel by, then it will be the same as the voucher expiry date. (ii) If your voucher has expired or is close to expiry it’s worth checking with the airline if it will let you swap it for a cash refund. However, it is up to the airline to set these policies and some may not allow exchanges. 

What if the Foreign Office advises against travel?

Between March and July 2020, and at various points since, the Foreign Office has warned against all non-essential travel overseas. Currently, no countries are on the travel warning list because of their coronavirus status (though they may have warnings for other reasons). But as well as being a useful safety guide, Foreign Office warnings are important in the following scenarios:

  • Package holiday firms should refund you if there's a Foreign Office warning. If a Foreign Office warning is put in place under the Package Travel Regulations, you SHOULD be able to get a refund within 14 days – even if the trip's not been cancelled – though always check first with the firm before you cancel. 

    This isn't the case with DIY trips where you've booked hotels and flights separately. In that situation you can still try asking the companies concerned for a refund, but you don't have the same legal protection or rights.

  • If you travel when there is a Foreign Office warning, most travel insurance becomes totally invalid. This applies even for non-Covid issues as the whole policy is usually invalid. As there are some exceptions, do check.

Foreign Office advice doesn't exactly align with the 'red list' travel system – and it can be the key factor when it comes to refunds.

Can I get a refund if I need to quarantine on arrival at my destination?

If the country you're going to insists you must quarantine for a certain amount of time on arrival, it's unlikely that airlines or hotels will offer a refund if they're open and running services. You also won't be able to use credit or debit card protection, because the service is still available.

However, if you've a package holiday, you MAY be able to get a refund from the travel firm. Where the destination country puts a mandatory quarantine in place for all arrivals, this could be considered a 'significant change' to your holiday. Package travel association ABTA says travel companies should offer an alternative or a full refund in those circumstances.

What if I can't or don't want to go because I have to quarantine on my return?

We've previously been asked by users if they'll legally be able to get a refund on travel bookings (for example, a flight or package holiday) if they are unable or unwilling to quarantine on their return, and are therefore unable to take their trip. The short answer is no, as the company would not have to refund you for your disinclination to travel – though some firms may agree to help out, so it's worth asking.

Your travel insurance is also unlikely to cover you if you have to quarantine. However, insurance trade body the Association of British Insurers says you should ask your insurer directly to be certain, as some insurers may consider exemptions if you will be disproportionately affected, eg, if having to quarantine on your return will affect your employment.

Similarly, if an overseas destination moves to the UK's 'red list', it's unlikely that you'll be able to claim a refund from travel firms or your travel insurer, as the change wouldn't affect the delivery of your holiday – only what happens when you get back. However, if your destination is reclassified, it's possible your travel provider may choose to cancel your booking itself – in the event this happens, the normal rules on cancellations would apply.

Quick questions

  • Can I get a refund for extra costs if I'm quarantined abroad?

    If you are quarantined during a trip abroad, you may incur extra costs, such as paying for more accommodation or booking new flights home.

    The first thing to do in this situation is to speak to your tour operator or the agent you booked your trip through to see if you can recover any extra costs.

    For any unrecoverable costs, you may be able to make a claim through your travel insurer if you have the right kind of policy. This situation will generally fall under 'disruption to travel', so check for this clause in your travel insurance documents – though in any case, it's worth speaking to your insurer directly to see if you're covered.

  • I've a medical condition that puts me at greater risk of coronavirus – can I get a refund?

    Some people will have medical risk factors that make coronavirus a more serious threat – for example, the NHS says older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease) are more likely to become seriously ill with the virus.

    If you're due to travel to an area which has a high volume of coronavirus cases but there's no Foreign Office warning at the time you travel, and you're worried about the heightened risk of the virus due to your age or underlying health conditions, speak to your insurer to discuss your options.

    The Association of British Insurers says that whether you'll be covered by your insurance depends on your specific policy and your situation. You may be asked to provide evidence of your pre-existing condition – a doctor's note, for example. Many insurers will make a decision on a case-by-case basis.

  • What if everything's closed at my destination – can I get a refund?

    In general terms, don't expect a refund if you cancel in these circumstances. Unfortunately, if no warning is in place at the time that you're travelling, then airlines, tour operators and insurers won't usually offer a refund if you decide not to travel.

    Yet if you've booked a package holiday and were sold on the basis that you'd be able to visit a specific attraction and this was the main reason you booked the trip, you could argue that the attraction being closed counts as a "significant change" to your holiday under the Package Travel Regulations, and therefore ask for a refund.

    Check the documents and T&Cs from your travel provider to see whether you may be able to argue this. However, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) says it's unlikely that many packages would have been sold on this basis.

  • My cruise has been cancelled or changed – what can I do?

    Many cruise lines have cancelled trips or altered their itineraries to avoid stopping at ports in affected areas.

    If you were due to travel on a cruise that has been cancelled, you'll generally receive a full refund – though check your cruise line's policy directly. If you have consequential losses, you can follow the steps above to try and recover them.

    If your cruise itinerary has been altered and you no longer want to travel as a result, your cruise line may let you cancel and get a refund or credit to spend on another cruise – again, you'll need to check directly to find out your options.

    If you can't get a refund this way and you had booked your cruise as part of a package holiday, you may have some protection under the Package Travel Regulations if you had a major alteration to your itinerary – though it's unlikely that changes to a couple of stops on a long cruise would count as "significant".

    The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) says if changes "are significant in relation to the overall trip", customers may be entitled to a refund.

    It said: "With cruises, there is the cruising element with the facilities and entertainment on board as well as ports of call, and all aspects of the trip must be considered in any decision about the significance of any changes to the itinerary."

What are my rights if I get stuck abroad?

With some countries around the world banning British holidaymakers and operators cancelling travel services, it may mean some UK travellers have been or could be stranded abroad. If so, here are your rights...

  • How do I get home?

    If your flight home is cancelled and it's leaving from the UK or an EU country, or it's to the UK/EU on a UK/EU airline, then the operator must get you home by any means at the earliest opportunity. If your flight doesn't fall within this scope, you're at the mercy of the rules of your flight operator.

    For those on a package holiday, there is also an obligation on providers to arrange for you to get home, but this won't necessarily be as soon as possible.

    For travel by any other means, contact your provider. If you're struggling to get help, you can also try contacting the UK embassy in the country for assistance.

  • Will free accommodation be provided?

    If you're stranded due to a cancelled flight which is leaving a UK or EU country, or it's to the UK/EU on a UK/EU airline, then your airline must pay to put you up in the meantime, although you may need to pay and later claim this back. Keep hold of receipts and only expect reasonable costs to be reimbursed. If your flight doesn't fall within this scope, check with the airline if it's responsible.

    For package holidays, trade body ABTA says providers are only obliged to put you up for three nights if your return trip is cancelled.

    For travel by any other means, contact your provider. If you're struggling to get help, you can also try contacting the UK embassy in the country for assistance.

  • Can I claim these costs on my insurance?

    If you're abroad for longer than planned due to your return journey being disrupted by travel bans, insurers we spoke to said your cover would be extended.

    But while this means you'll continue to be covered under the usual terms of your insurance – so for example, you should be able to claim for emergency medical expenses – insurers we spoke to said you won't be covered for extra costs incurred by having to stay longer, such as extra accommodation or travel. Though always check with your insurer as policies differ.

Holidaying in the UK? Your refund rights

While the above sections on cancellations apply to both UK and overseas holidays, there are some specific extra points to consider with UK holidays – especially if you're still chasing a refund for a cancellation as a result of a previous lockdown.

Of course, UK holidays are allowed currently, but as that hasn't always been the case previously, and since it's possible restrictions could return, we've detailed your rights in different circumstances below.

If your holiday firm cancels your trip, you're likely due a full refund

As with overseas holidays, a key factor in whether you're owed a refund for a UK trip is whether your holiday firm has cancelled your booking. If yours does, then in simple terms you're likely due a full refund.

If you've booked a package holiday, then under the Package Travel Regulations you are entitled to get all your money back within two weeks of cancellation. But even if it's not a package, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says as a general rule firms MUST offer cash refunds for cancellations. So if your holiday or accommodation booking is cancelled, you're likely due a full refund and should ask for one if it's not offered.

  • Refused a refund for a cancellation? What to try

    If you do want to push for cash or you're struggling to get any refund, here's what we'd suggest, but there are no hard and fast rules:

    1) Insist on a refund in writing. Firms will naturally want to push you to accept a voucher or rebook your holiday, as it avoids them having to cough up. So make it clear, in writing, that you expect a refund. Sadly, pushy customers tend to be more successful than those who just leave it, though be firm and polite rather than rude and aggressive. It's also worth quoting what the CMA has said in cases about refunds in this situation.

    2) Try going to your card firm and asking it for a refund (ask for chargeback first, then try Section 75 if that doesn't work). Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if you pay for something costing between £100 and £30,000 on a credit card, the card firm's equally liable if something goes wrong, so you may be able to claim your money back from it.

    Under chargeback, which isn't a legal requirement, just a customer service promise, your bank will try to get money back from the bank of the firm you bought from, and you can try it on debit card purchases and those which are less than £100. See our Section 75 and Chargeback guides for full info.

    As MSE founder Martin Lewis explains though, try chargeback first. Here, Martin explains why: "Even if you actually have a credit card and qualify for Section 75, I wouldn't ask for that at this stage. I would ask for a chargeback. That's because under the chargeback process, which is part of the Visa, Mastercard or Amex rules, your bank is asking for money back from the holiday firm's bank, which your bank is unlikely to have an issue doing.

    "If you claim under Section 75 though, then you are asking the credit card company itself to cover you, and while it may be legally obliged to do this, it is likely to be much more reticent to do it. So it's worth trying Section 75 only if chargeback fails. And with both, if you are rejected you have the right to go on to the free Financial Ombudsman, which can adjudicate."

    There's no guarantee this will work, but some who've struggled to get other travel refunds, eg, for Ryanair flights, have had joy this way. Do be aware that even once you're paid the money with chargeback, the firm can dispute it with the bank and the money may later be clawed back. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. See chargeback clawback help if it does.

    3) If you are prepared to play hardball, threaten court action. This is the route a very senior, and often litigious, lawyer told us he would take if it happened to him. This is about writing a formal note that you plan to file a county court claim if it doesn't pay a refund. Keep it short and sweet, with just the basic information about what's happened, and state a time (say, three weeks later) when you expect a response or you'll go ahead.

    Think carefully about whether you want to do this and how hard to push. Consumer lawyer Dean Dunham previously drafted two template letters for Sykes Cottages customers, and we saw some report that they'd successfully used them to get a refund. Of course, these should no longer be necessary for Sykes Cottages customers as it's now committed to provide full refunds, but they could give you a sense of what this type of letter could look like if you want to write to another firm. (Some details will be specific to Sykes, so should be treated as inspiration rather than as direct templates.) 

    4) File a county court claim online. This is following up on your promise to go to court – and again, it's what our senior lawyer says they'd do, but of course everyone is different. Essentially, it will hopefully go through the small claims route – a low-hassle online process for simple cases where you can represent yourself – though it will take some time, and it does depend on how good you are at this type of thing. This can be objected to by the other side though, and be pushed up to a district court, where you may need legal representation.

    There is a cost for doing this – it's £25 to £300, and it's refunded if you win. If you lose, there are no costs against you in the small claims court, but there may be if it goes up to a higher court (you'll know beforehand though and could drop the case then). See our Small Claims Court guide for full help.

    Let us know how you get on at news@moneysavingexpert.com.

Holiday not cancelled? Your refund rights depend on rules in place at the time of your trip

Things are more complex if your holiday is running and your accommodation is open but you're unable to go due to lockdown restrictions either at your holiday destination or in your local area. The key to your rights here is the legal status of the restrictions which are stopping you travelling:

If travel's illegal under coronavirus rules, you're likely due a full refund

The good news is in this situation the CMA says you should expect a full refund. Its guidance states that consumers should get their money back if they're not provided with a service due to lockdown laws, or can't access what they paid for "because, for example, lockdown laws in the UK or abroad have made it illegal to receive or use the goods or service". This would apply both to not being able to leave their area or to get to an area where the accommodation is based.

It's important to note however that CMA guidance isn't a definitive interpretation of the law, and this is a new scenario which hasn't been tested – so while you can direct your holiday accommodation provider to the guidance, complain to the CMA or even pursue legal action, there are no guarantees.

If travel's advised against but not illegal, your refund rights are less clear

If your trip is to or from a part of the UK where travel is advised against but is not illegal, things could be more complicated.

Unfortunately, in this situation you may find it more difficult to get your money back if you decide not to travel. The CMA's guidance says if the restrictions which prevent a service being used aren't legal restrictions, it's not clear whether a consumer would be entitled to a full refund.

This doesn't mean you're definitely not entitled to a refund. The CMA says if a consumer would be at serious risk if they went ahead with a contract (such as a holiday booking) against Government guidance, the contract could be deemed to have been "frustrated" – in which case you could be owed a full refund. But it's much murkier – and again, you need to remember these are untested situations and ultimately only a court can decide how the law applies in different scenarios.

The best bet is to speak to your holiday or accommodation provider and ask what it'll offer. You may be able to cancel under your usual terms and conditions, or ask for more flexibility such as a date change. If you can't come to an agreement you're both happy with, you'll need to weigh up how hard to push for a refund. You can try the steps we outline above, but there are no guarantees and you may be less likely to have success if your trip isn't technically forbidden by law.

If you're still allowed to travel but decide not to go, you've no automatic right to a refund

If you are still permitted to go on your holiday under official restrictions and guidance, it's important to understand you don't have any automatic right to a refund if you choose not to go.

If your holiday's still on or the hotel's still open, your refund rights will simply depend on the terms and conditions you agreed to when you booked. Of course, these may still let you cancel for free or move your trip, and some firms are also offering extra flexibility to all their customers at the moment due to coronavirus, so it's still worth checking what your options are.

What if I've booked a trip for multiple households?

This isn't currently an issue as there are no restrictions on multiple households gathering, but we've answered this question in case restrictions come in again in future. So if your holiday is to and from a permitted area, but would break rules because the travellers are from multiple households, CMA guidance suggests you'd be owed a refund (though it's not completely clear-cut and there are no guarantees).

When we checked back in September 2020, all the major UK firms we'd spoken to said they would pay out – see more details in our Social gatherings of more than six banned – your refund rights MSE News story.

Travel insurance WON'T usually cover cancellations if travel rules change

Most new travel insurance policies WON'T cover cancellations due to future UK or foreign government no-travel rules. However working out exactly what a policy covers isn't always straightforward. So to help, we've summarised the level of cover you can expect when it comes to Covid-related cancellations in the table below.

Covid-related cancellation cover you can typically expect

Scenario Covered by a travel insurance policy? 
You/family member can't travel as you test positive for Covid-19.
Most DO, unless travelling against Government advice.
You test positive for Covid-19 overseas and need to extend trip and/or get medical help.

Most DO, unless travelling against Government advice.

You/family member can't travel as told to isolate by NHS (though this is no longer a legal requirement in England).

SOME cover this – check with your insurer.

Government restrictions in the UK mean you can't travel, such as a lockdown or change in Foreign Office travel advice.

FEW cover this – check with your insurer.

Overseas government restrictions mean you can't travel, such as lockdowns and quarantine on entry.
Generally NOT covered (though a few cover cancelling booked accommodation). 
You can't go as you're not willing/able to meet quarantine requirements on return to the UK (if applicable).
Generally NOT covered (though a few cover hotel quarantine costs if you choose to travel).
Can't travel as you don't feel safe going.
NOT covered – travel insurance never covers 'disinclination to travel'.

In short, you're generally covered if you catch coronavirus before your trip or while you're on it. Most cover stops there, however there are a handful of insurers that provide some cover for cancellations due to national or local lockdowns – whether in the UK or in your destination – as well as changing Foreign Office advice.

See our Cheap Travel Insurance guide for the top picks (all of our top picks cover cancellation if you catch Covid before you travel or are told to self-isolate by the NHS).

However, as no policy is completely comprehensive with regards to Covid and cancellation, it's best to book flexible, easily-cancellable flights, hotels or packages so you can cancel or rearrange your trip if you're caught by restrictions. 

What can I do if my travel insurer unfairly turns down my claim?

Insurance is about protection from unexpected eventualities. Within that there are the usual likely known eventualities, such as illness or lost luggage. Then there are the unknown eventualities, like Icelandic volcanoes or pandemics (though since March 2020, coronavirus is classified as a "known event"). Therefore, it is very difficult to predict whether insurers will pay out in different circumstances.

Yet it's important to understand insurers are covered by the financial 'treating customers fairly' rules, which mean if you don't think your insurer has been fair, you can make a formal complaint. After it replies, or after eight weeks if it doesn't, you can then go to the free Financial Ombudsman to adjudicate.

Eight weeks may be a long time in this case, so if your situation is really financially pressing, tell the Ombudsman.

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