Ask the Expert: Can I go on holiday?

Martyn James on how customers can get money back if a holiday provider goes bust. Picture: Resolver/

Martyn James on how customers can get money back if a holiday provider goes bust. Picture: Resolver/Getty - Credit: Resolver/Getty

Many people will be looking to get away this summer - here Martyn James of complaints and claims experts Resolver lays out whether you can travel and where to be financially wary. 

If there’s one thing that grinds the gears of the nation, it’s other people not playing by the rules. From popstars having parties to people claiming trips to Dubai are work holidays, Covid rulebreakers are top of many people’s frustration list.

So Instagram influencers beware – because the latest batch of government rules mean anyone traveling abroad ‘without good reason’ will face a £5000 fine. But why is this happening now, how will it work and when can we take a holiday?

What exactly is a good reason?

Reading government guidelines is a bit like being told off for something you haven’t done yet, so I’ll try to paraphrase the official guidance.

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In short, you can’t go abroad for a holiday. Taking pictures of yourself on the beach for social media will not count as ‘work’ no matter how to try to convince sceptical authorities.

You may travel for essential work, but again, bear in mind that the emphasis is on essential here. There’s a huge list on the government website on the types of job or reasons that you may be able to travel here.

You will be asked to provide identification, proof of your role and why you have to travel and depending on the work, a whole array of documentation is also potentially required.

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You’ll also need to follow the health advice for the country you’re entering, quarantine on arrival back in the UK – oh, and if you’re going to a country on the ‘red list’ you’ve got a stay in those expensive airport hotel quarantine options for ten days to look forward to as well.

If you’re a foreign national, you may return home, but you will have to follow the rules in your home country on arrival. There are also allowances for volunteering, dedication and compassionate reasons.

In short, international travel isn’t for fun at the moment and unless you absolutely have to go, you shouldn’t.

How will they catch people breaking the rules?

The fine is a deterrent and if you were planning on sneaking off abroad you’d already have to jump through a number of hoops – and fake documents – to get away in the first place. The UK is, of course, a collection of islands so getting in and out of the country is by no means simple.

They can check your documents and passport and you will get caught – and the fine is for ‘attempting’ to travel too!

However, if you’re already in another country after the rules changed and you want to come back, you can though you’ll need to fill out a passenger locator form and follow the guidance on the government website.

When can I book a holiday?

This is by far the most common question I’m being asked at the moment and the simple answer is, think long and hard about booking foreign travel.

The government are sending out lots of messages about giving up on the summer holidays abroad this year with August/September looking like the soonest options.

But bear in mind the government can change the rules and extend the travel ban. And many countries may still be closed to tourists, including many popular destinations in Europe where the vaccination roll out has been much slower and infections are increasing.

The government’s global travel task force is due to report on April 5, 2021 with more information so watch this space.

What do I do about an upcoming holiday?

If you have a holiday booked in the coming months, chances are it will be cancelled. But don’t wait for that to happen.

Contact the airline or travel firm and ask them what will happen next. If you move your holiday forward in time, ask them if you can move it again if things still aren’t sorted. If you want a refund, then you can ask for one – the earliest date you are potentially allowed to travel is May 17, but that’s likely to change.

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