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Travel advice for work or study

Staff travel advice

Staff travel advice

Staff travel advice



The information on this page is organised into the following themes:

International travel for work and / or studyInsurance for international travelOverseas trips of greater than 3 month’s durationTravel for work or study within the UK Frequently asked questions 

International travel for work and / or study

In line with the easing of restrictions and the introduction of some international travel, we will begin to support some overseas University work and / or study, where it aligns with the University essential travel principles and the UK Government traffic light system.

All University travel for work and / or study must meet the following key principles:

  1. Travel to red list countries will not be permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances, and must be approved by the COVID-19 Gold group.
  2. A 'letter of support' is a legal requirement of travel to amber countries. This letter will be produced as an output of the approval process, subject to approval being given.
  3. The University Travel Policy has been updated to align to best practice, including British Standards and University Safety and Health Association guidance.
  4. International Travel risk assessments have been consolidated, now one overarching risk assessment per trip is required.

We have published checklists for those planning travel, organised by the categories of travel that are permitted to resume. Please ensure you review and follow the guidance within the relevant checklist before making any bookings:

Type of Travel 
Essential research trips (Researchers and PGR) Checklist 
Conferences / Outbound UoE academics delivering lectures Checklist
Funding award - Global Partnerships Checklist
International student recruitment trips Checklist
Overseas Fieldwork / Fieldtrips (UG and PGT) Checklist
Professional Services team travel - where appropriate Checklist

Insurance for international travel

Once you have evidence of risk assessment and essential trip approval, you can then seek insurance approval by emailing If your requested destination is sanctioned, 14 day advance notification to the insurer is required. Cover is not guaranteed and certain exclusions will apply, this will be confirmed on a case by case basis. You must wait to receive confirmation of insurance before booking any travel.

For more information on the travel insurance process, please visit the staff pages.

Overseas trips of greater than 3 month’s duration

It remains the case that any overseas trips for greater than 3 month’s duration must follow the Global Mobility Policy to ensure employment law compliance. Advance notice of 3 months must be provided to enable this.

Travel for work or study within the UK

Attendance at educational day visits, seminars, conferences and business meetings is permitted, in line with government travel advice, provided that the relevant risk assessments are completed and approved. UK residential stays (such as fieldtrips) and sports events are also permitted, where the correct risk assessments are completed and approved.

Full detail is included in the risk assessment tools.

Key considerations:

  • Risk assessments for UK based travel may focus more on the use of private or rental vehicles - to lessen use of public transport.
  • If travel is planned to a higher risk region - for example due to variants of concern or regional outbreaks - trip organisers must consider how to reduce the risk.
  • There is no cancellation or curtailment cover within the University of Exeter travel insurance policy for COVID-19, but all other elements remain in place.
  • If Government guidance changes, bringing into force local, regional or national lockdowns, trips may be cancelled. There are two exclusions on our insurance policy, relating to (a) Government or Local Authority Directives, and (b) pandemic. If a trip is cancelled or curtailed for this reason, it will not be covered by insurance. Cancellable / refundable / transferrable booking options should be selected, to minimise the risk of financial loss.

Frequently asked questions on travel for work or study:

For inbound travel, you must book your pre-departure test in the 3 days before the departure of your travel in your current location. Please refer to government guidance on booking a PCR test and regulations surrounding your travel to England. You must take a PCR test on or before day 2 of your arrival, and comply with further testing if you have arrived from an amber or red list country.

For outbound travel, you must check the entry requirements of the planned destination and comply with any specific testing rules. You must book this test with an approved private testing company, available through the FCDO website. NHS testing cannot be used for the purpose of pre-departure testing. The University offers approved pre-departure testing for specific travel reasons, see table below, this can be booked online.

Reason for TravelUoE HALO Test Provided
Students to return to their home country or family at end of term Yes
Staff for work travel purposes Yes
Students for study abroad Yes
Staff/students for personal holiday travel requirements No
Staff/students for personal visits to family abroad No
Staff/students for emergency visits abroad  Yes

Before you travel out of the UK, it is vital that you follow the correct procedures as failure to do so may result in possible delays or fines. In some instances, you may be denied entry at the border.

  • You must take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test and have proof of a negative result to travel out of the UK. Tests must be booked before you travel.
  • The University’s asymptomatic testing programme is not appropriate to fulfil the legal requirement for travel testing.
  • Each airline and country will have different requirements and you are advised to check specific requirements and timeframes for testing with your airline and foreign travel advice websites. 

Outbound travel from the UK

All international travel for work and / or study purposes must align with the University essential travel principles and the UK Government traffic light system.

All University travel for work and / or study must meet the following key principles:

  • Travel to red list countries will not be permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances. This should be extremely rare, and must be approved by the COVID-19 Gold group.
  • A letter of support is a legal requirement for travel to amber countries. This letter will be produced as an output of the approval process, subject to approval being given.
  • The University Travel Policy has been updated to align to best practice, including British Standards and University Safety and Health Association guidance.

Prior to booking international trips:

Travel must meet the University essential travel criteria.

A completed risk assessment and detail on the essential nature of the trip must be approved at the appropriate level.

Confirmation that insurance has been agreed must be obtained prior to any bookings being made.

International Travel risk assessments have been consolidated - now one overarching risk assessment per trip is required.

You can find the checklists and risk assessments for planning international travel as well as useful guidance online, organised by the category of travel permitted to resume:

The only permitted exception to enable travel to a country on the red list is for the purposes of research travel, with evidence of the exceptional circumstances requiring that the trip goes ahead at this point in time. Any other travel (business/fieldtrips/conferences) may not travel to a red listed country. If research travel to a red listed country is essential, you must seek approval via your College and Research Restart. If approved, you must then email at the earliest possible date to discuss insurance coverage. Once this has been confirmed, the COVID-19 Gold group will be the final gate of approval, if approval is given by Gold group approval will be based upon the nature and importance of the research trip, the state and entry requirements of the proposed destination, and the risks posed to the traveller, the communities that they will be visiting, and to the UK COVID-19 situation on return.

Changes or cancellations of the trip due to pandemic will not be cover by the travel insurance. There is no cover in place for cancellation or curtailment of a trip due to government directive, such as the grounding of flights or enforced lockdowns. From the 1st April 2021 this exclusion was expanded so that any cancellation linked to a pandemic will be excluded from cover. This will include reasons such as but not limited to the cancellation of an event due to concerns over a pandemic, because of local cases or an outbreak that has not officially resulted in a lockdown. Should the UK situation worsen with case rates increasing, or the circulation of a variant of concern, this risk could become an issue. Cancellable/transferable bookings should be selected to mitigate this.

Please note that if the travel provider cancels then it is your right as a passenger to ask for a monetary refund from the travel provider, even if they offer you another form of reimbursement.

If your risk assessment has not been approved, you should first discuss this with your first formal approver, according to the approval routes in the University essential travel principles document. This will likely be the head of your college or service. It may be that you will need to amend some details in your risk assessment to go further, as posed by one of your approvers, the health and safety team, or the insurance office. Ensure you address any issues and resubmit your risk assessment before going further. If your risk assessment is not approved, the reason for this should be provided to you by the person or panel taking that decision. You must ensure you have both approval and insurance confirmation before you book your travel via the University travel partners.

If you test positive for COVID-19 or need to self-isolate with your household, you will need to self-isolate and will not be able to travel on a plane or other form of public transport. It is important to note that travel insurance may not cover your costs if you cannot take a pre-booked flight owing to a positive COVID-19 test. If you are travelling for work or study purposes, University travel insurance will not cover your costs if you cannot take a pre-booked flight owing to a positive COVID-19 test. 

You are therefore advised to book refundable, cancellable, or flexible travel options where possible to make sure that you do not lose out if you are required to self-isolate. Check the terms and conditions of any bookings carefully.

Please be aware of the latest Travel Advice for Trains from South Western Railway if you wish to travel by rail.

Inbound travel to the UK

For staff and postgraduate research students

The impact of the pandemic on international travel is unpredictable and fast moving. The government has now implemented a ‘traffic light’ system for international travel. Unless your planned destination country is on the green list, you may only travel internationally where you have a legally permitted reason to go. The government is allowing international travel for the purposes of study, research or teaching where it is essential.

However, in the latest advice from the Department for Education, the government advices that fieldtrips and research trips should be postponed until September at the earliest, when it will review current advice. If international travel is undertaken before this date for essential purposes, the government recommends signing up for FCDO travel advice updates for the country/countries you plan to visit. You must also ensure you fill out a Passenger Locator Form, take a pre-departure test, and ensure you comply with any relevant COVID-19 certification requirements specific to the country you intend to visit. This will all be checked at border control both upon departure and arrival. For travel to non-green list countries, you must also obtain a letter of support outlining that the travel is essential to show at border control.

The University is constantly reviewing its provision on travel in alignment to contemporary guidance. To ensure that travellers are insured, and that we are able to locate and support impacted travellers should an incident occur, the below processes must be followed for UK and international travel:

The University has now published new Travel Policy, please read and refer to this document as a primary means to comply with the latest University guidance. The University position on the type of travel considered essential is set out within the essential travel principles, including guidance on the trip approval pathways. There can be differences between the type of travel that the UK Government classes as essential, and the type of travel that the receiving destination classes as essential. You must check FCDO guidance for your destination country as a minimum to limit the risk of arriving and being denied entry. There will be no insurance cover in place for a forced return due to non-compliance with a public available entry policy, and any associated unrecoverable costs will fall to the traveller’s budget. This check must be documented in your risk assessment, and reviewed regularly up to your departure date. Note that travel is not permitted until the approval processes have been completed, and for international travel, where insurance has been confirmed. Our insurer has made this a condition of cover being provided.

Bookings must not be made until insurance cover and approval has been confirmed to you.

All travel bookings should be made via the University travel partners, Click Travel or Key Travel. This provides the following benefits:

  • A central data store of trips based on accurate data, allowing fast location and support of individuals impacted by an incident
  • Reporting on carbon footprint without the traveller having to take any additional action
  • Provision of travel alert data with a direct impact on travellers to the University and to the traveller

Note: If you are unable to book via the travel partners, due to the loss of the reporting capability detailed above, you will be required to provide the full detail of your trip for central recording within your college or service. This includes (not exhaustive) travel dates, locations, and travel method and class.

Note that the essential travel principles will remain in place post COVID-19, and have been developed to support the University’s Green Recovery commitments.

For staff responsible for authorising travel

Please check to ensure that the trip is aligned to the University essential travel principles and ensure you comply with all necessary documentation required as part of the University’s Travel Policy. This also defines the level of approval required. The risk assessment should be reviewed for assurance that the mitigations identified manage the risk to a reasonable and acceptable level. Note that if the destination location is not on the green list, Director level approval will be required regardless of other current restrictions. Confirmation of whether the booking is to be made via Click Travel or Key travel should be included within the approval process. If the booking is to be made via an alternative provider, you must ensure that a central record is held within your college or service, based on accurate trip data and travel method and class, and ensure the traveller has sent a full itinerary to This information may be called upon in the event of an incident, to identify and support impacted travellers.

All approvals to non green list countries should include a statement from the approver confirming they agree that: (a) the travel is essential and can’t be deferred without serious detriment, and (b) the controls within the risk assessment are considered to be appropriate. Note that this should include the risk of unrecoverable costs due to refusal of entry to a destination location due to publicly available restrictions of the Government of that location.

For international travel only, the relevant approval and completed and fully approved risk assessment should be sent to This is the final stage of the approval process, where confirmation is sought that insurance cover can be placed. No bookings should be made until this confirmation has been provided.

For UK/In Country travel, the insurance step is not required, and booking can be made based on the risk assessment and approval only.

You should be aware and prepare for this situation during the planning of your trip, through the risk assessment. Please note that countries can change between green, amber and red at any time, this will be shown via the amber watch list on the government website. If the country you are in changes to red, you will need to book quarantine on return (see below). You must also notify your supervisor/trip approver, and call into action the plans made for this scenario.

  • If the country changes to amber, then you must prepare to comply with stricter entry requirements on your return to the UK – this will include self-isolating in a chosen accommodation for 10 days, PCR testing on days 2 and 8 of return (must be booked by traveller), and optionally testing to release on day 5 of self-isolation.
  • If the country turns red, you must book a managed quarantine hotel before your departure to the UK, following this guide. This will come at the cost of £1750 – you must decide as part of your risk assessment who will pay for this (e.g. yourself or your sponsor or supervisor). Please note that you must use a personal credit or debit card for this transaction, so ensure the booker has a valid method of payment. You must then ensure you take Government approved PCR tests on days 2 and 8 of quarantine, there is no option for testing to release.

When filling out your risk assessment, you should note your inbound quarantine arrangements if they are required. This will include who will book and pay for a managed quarantine hotel if you are visiting a red listed country, or if your destination is added to the red list whilst you are abroad. If a supervisor or sponsor is going to book a managed quarantine hotel on your behalf, please contact them as soon as possible in advance of your return journey, as there may be difficulties in booking your hotel.

  • For staff and PGR inbound travel, if you have any unforeseen difficulties in arranging quarantine, first discuss this with your supervisor or head of service as a first point of contact, who will escalate it on your behalf if necessary. As a final point of contact, please contact
  • For student inbound travel, please refer to our information for students who are self-isolating webpage.

British and Irish nationals, or third country nationals with residence rights in the UK, can enter the UK after having been in one of the red listed countries, but they are required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival at a managed quarantine hotel. There are no exemptions to self-isolation for these travellers. Non-EEA national visitors, and EEA nationals without a right to reside in the UK, will be denied entry to the UK if, in the 10 days before their arrival to the UK, they have been in or travelled through a red listed country. If you are an international student with a Tier 4/new student visa or pre-settled/settled status under the European Union settlement scheme, you are exempt from this ban, because you have residence rights.

If you are allowed to travel to the UK from a red list country, upon arrival in England you will need to self-isolate for 10 days in a designated quarantine hotel. Please note that if you need to stay in a travel quarantine hotel, you may only enter the UK through designated airports – you can find detail on the Government website. You will be escorted through the airport with other passengers who need to quarantine at a managed quarantine hotel. Your ‘quarantine package’ includes transport to your quarantine hotel.

When you arrive in England, you will be taken directly from the airport to one of these government approved quarantine hotels. There is a maximum cost of £1750 per person to quarantine in one of these hotels. Bookings will be made through a dedicated Government online portal before you travel and will include:

  • assigned government transportation
  • food and drinks
  • accommodation in a government-approved hotel
  • security
  • welfare support
  • COVID-19 testing on day 2 and 8 of quarantine

You can find the Government’s full guidance on quarantine hotels and details of how to book on the Government’s ‘Booking and staying in a quarantine hotel when you arrive in England’ website.

To ensure compliance, the Government had introduced fines from £5,000 rising to £10,000 for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel.

Please contact the Rapid Response Hub if you plan to travel to the UK from a red list country and need to self-isolate in a quarantine hotel. You will be eligible for support such as our ‘Digital Hamper’, with vouchers for services like Kindle, Amazon, and Netflix to keep you entertained during your time in quarantine. We can also arrange welfare calls to check in with you during your time in hotel quarantine and make sure you have everything you need. You can find details about our support for self-isolating students, much of which can be accessed virtually, on our dedicated self-isolation support pages.

If the £1750 fee for hotel quarantine creates a significant financial hardship for you, the Government offers an opportunity to apply for a deferred repayment plan when booking. If these costs cause you substantial financial hardship, you may be eligible to apply for financial support through our Success for All Fund. Please read the information on the Success for All Website carefully if you are considering applying for a grant.

These enhanced measures are in place in order to prevent the spread of new strains of COVID-19 into the UK.


Before travelling, you should read the Government’s safer travel guidance for passengers. There are some key features to consider, including:

  • if possible, travel using private transport rather than public transport
  • if travelling in a private vehicle, avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or support bubble
  • wearing a face covering while travelling unless exempt, especially if using public transport
  • where possible, keep a safe distance from people from other households when travelling
  • wash or sanitise hands regularly
  • avoid the busiest routes where possible, as well as busy times like the rush hour
  • download the NHS COVID-19 app before you travel, if possible, and check in where you see official NHS COVID-19 QR code posters
  • if using public transport, book ahead wherever possible to let transport providers know you will be using the service

If you are planning to travel to Exeter or Cornwall from overseas, you can find details of routes to airports and travel hubs on our Planning Your Travel webpage. Travel plans are aimed at students travelling to Exeter / Cornwall from major airports. Also on this website, you can find details of local taxi companies that will provide airport transfer at reasonable rates if you feel more comfortable travelling in a private vehicle. If travelling from the airport, it is important to plan your travel carefully in advance and adhere to the safe travel guidance outlined above.

If you are entering the UK from a country classified as amber, you may wish to utilise the Test to Release Scheme, to potentially shorten your time in self-isolation. Please note the Test to Release Scheme does not replace the separate Government day 2 and day 8 tests, which still must be booked and taken.

Please check that the country you are travelling from, or any country you are travelling through, is not classified as red list or green list before booking a test for Test to Release.

The scheme is voluntary and applies to those self-isolating in England only.

Find out more on our dedicated Test to Release information page.

Yes. Everyone travelling to the UK from abroad will need proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test result to enter the country. You need to have taken the test in the 3 days before you travel. If you arrive in England without proof of a negative approved test for COVID-19, you could be fined £500.

You can read the full Government Guidance for further details.

Arrivals from countries classified as amber will be required to undertake 2 mandatory COVID-19 PCR tests – on day 2 and day 8 of their 10-day quarantine. If you have travelled from a country listed as amber, you can participate in the Test to Release scheme.

Arrivals from countries classified as green will be required to undertake 1 mandatory COVID-19 PCR test – on day 2 after arrival to the UK.

Arrivals from countries on the red list will be required to undertake 2 mandatory COVID-19 PCR tests – on day 2 and day 8 of their 10-day quarantine.

You must book these tests through the Government portal. You can read full details and book your tests on the Government’s website.

People travelling to England will be responsible for booking these tests before they travel. The passenger locator forms you complete, any time in the 48 hours before arriving in the UK, will require you to include details of your self-isolation arrangements and the testing package you have arranged. Tests must be booked from a list of government-approved test providers. A penalty will be given to any international arrival who fails to take their mandatory test(s).

To ensure you receive all the support you need, all international travellers to our Cornwall Campus should contact us using this form:

International Arrivals COVID-19 Isolation support

Travel Test Packages booked through the Government portal are provided by a company called Corporate Travel Management (CTM). The booking form and contact details for anyone requiring support can be found here: Anyone experiencing a delay in their tests for days 2 and/or 8 being delivered by CTM is advised to call 119.