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Coronavirus: things to consider when booking a holiday

You can’t guarantee your next holiday will go without a hitch. But with a little forward planning, you can reduce the impact of things going wrong.

Before you book your next trip, here’s what you need to know.

What are the latest travel restrictions?

The traffic light system of countries changed from 04:00 BST on 4 October 2021, with the amber and green lists merging into a single ‘rest of world’ category.

The red list – for countries considered highest risk – remains. If you arrive in England from a red-list country, you’ll still need to pay for a quarantine hotel.

These changes only apply to England. Here’s the guidance for WalesScotland and Northern Ireland.

What are the rules if you’re fully vaccinated?

From 4 October, you no longer have to take a pre-departure test before you set off for a non-red list country. Instead, you just have to:

  • book and pay for a day 2 PCR test – to be taken on or before day 2 after you arrive in England

  • complete your passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before you arrive in England

This includes people vaccinated in the UK, the EU, the US or 18 other recognised countries.

Keep in mind, you must be able to prove that you have been fully vaccinated with a document (digital or paper-based) from a national or state-level public health body.

What if you’re not fully vaccinated?

If you’ve not had 2 doses of vaccine, you must still take a pre-departure test, complete a passenger locator form in the 48-hour period before arriving in England and take PCR tests on day 2 and 8 after returning home.

You’ll also have to spend 10 days in self-isolation after your arrival home. Or you could pay extra for an additional ‘Test to Release’ on day 5 to end self-isolation early.

Can you pay for your holiday using a debit or credit card?

If you book your holiday using a debit or credit card and your travel plans get disrupted by coronavirus, you may be able to recover some of your money via a ‘chargeback’. However, if you pay with a credit card and it costs over £100 and under £30,000, you may also have protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

Claiming a refund from either your travel operator or your card provider may lead to a better outcome than claiming via your travel insurance, as you may be able to claim the full amount you paid without having to pay an insurance excess. You could also potentially recover losses for all the party members on the booking.

Before making a claim, make sure you follow the supplier’s refund/re-booking terms in the first instance.

Is there any protection on your travel money?

If you purchase your travel money from HSBC and cannot travel due to your destination being moved onto the red list, we’ll purchase your currency back at the rate you paid so you won’t be out of pocket.

If you already have travel insurance, what’s covered?

Before booking any new travel, check with your insurer to see what sort of cover you’d have if:

  • you travel to countries where restrictions are still in place

  • your destination gets moved to the red list after you book

  • you or someone you’re close to gets coronavirus before you’re due to travel

  • you or someone you come into contact with gets coronavirus while you’re away

  • you get quarantined at an airport

For details of the travel cover offered through HSBC policies, see our coronavirus travel guidance.

If you don’t yet have travel insurance, what sort of cover is available?

As coronavirus is a known event, you may struggle to get coronavirus-related cancellation cover. But there are plenty of other things you’ll likely be covered for, such as:

  • medical costs, including the cost of treating you and getting you back home

  • lost or stolen baggage

  • delayed or missed flights

  • personal liability for any injuries you cause

To find out more, read should you get travel insurance?

If you decide to get travel insurance, it makes sense to buy it as soon as you book your holiday. Because, as well as covering you while you’re away, travel insurance can also cover you for things that might go wrong before you travel, such as:

  • finding out your travel company’s gone out of business

  • being made redundant

  • getting ill or injured

  • experiencing a death in the family

If you’re planning 2 or more trips within a 12-month period, then annual or ‘multi-trip cover’ is usually cheaper. Although it depends on where you're travelling to and how long you’re going for, so compare the cost against single-trip cover before buying a policy.

What travel insurance is available from HSBC?

We offer comprehensive worldwide travel insurance as one of the options in our multi-cover policy, Select and Cover.

According to Which?, it's one of only a few policies that provide ‘complete’ coronavirus cover. This means it covers you for cancellation if you can’t travel due to changes in Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice, or because of a lockdown.

Cover starts from £19.50 per month for 3 options and there’s 7 different types of insurance to choose from. It covers you, your partner and any children living with you who are under 18 – or under 23 if they’re in full-time education and living at home during the holidays.

It’s available to HSBC UK customers who are registered for online banking. The Worldwide Travel option is provided by Aviva Insurance Limited and covers up to the age of 70.