Written by Christopher Nye,
Last Modified: 5th September 2020

With the UK’s quarantines and travel restrictions changing every week – and varying even between different parts of the country – it’s hard to keep up with where you can and cannot view property. That’s all we needed with just weeks to go until the Brexit transition period ends. Read your update to the latest “exempt list” travel rules.

The first thing to understand is that while the government is imposing heavy restrictions on travellers arriving into the UK from most countries, relatively few have restrictions on people arriving in their country from the UK.

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That is because Britain currently has relatively low infection rates. Using the standard of “new Covid cases per 100,000, in the previous seven days”, the UK government imposes quarantine on countries where the number exceeds 20.

Where can you travel without quarantining on your return?

In the week to 4 September, the UK was on 14. For comparison, Spain has 125 and France 60. Switzerland’s cases have reached 25 per 100,000 in the last 7 days and visitors arriving from there now need to quarantine on arrival in the UK, while Portugal, currently on 23, may well have quarantine re-imposed from next week.

European countries currently looking healthy include Italy on 15, Greece on 14 (though some islands have restrictions), Ireland on 15, Germany on 10 and Cyprus on 2.


Your socially distanced Mediterranean home!

The “exempt” list, of countries which you can travel from to the UK without the need to isolate is:

Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Barbados, BES Islands, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macau, Malaysia, Mauritius, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Réunion, San Marino, Seychelles, South Korea, St Barthélemy, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Pierre and Miquelon, Slovakia, Slovenia, St Vincent and the Grenadine, Taiwan, Turkey, Vatican City, Vietnam.

The final complication is that different parts of the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – all have slightly different rules. We have listed the rules for England, but of travelling to other parts to check the government website.

Where can you buy?

For all other countries you will need to quarantine for 14 days when you come back to the UK. However, that does not mean you cannot travel to those countries and view property there.

Countries like New Zealand, Australia and the USA have very strict rules for arrivals from the UK (and elsewhere). You can only travel to these countries if you are a citizen or legal resident, and even then you will normally have to quarantine for 14 days. However, if you do wish to travel, there are flights available. You can fly to New Zealand from around £800 return, or to the USA from around £400 return.

Most other countries are not imposing quarantine on new arrivals from the UK, including France which previously suggested that it would do.

With many countries’ economies in the doldrums, this is a great time to buy. If you need to raise a little more money to buy, read how to do that safely with your free guide, How to Pay for an Overseas Property.

You can travel to France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus or Greece and buy a property with few restrictions. However, each country will have different ways of keeping infection rates down. Some require you to have a Covid test within 72 hours before your flight out. Some will have temperature checks before you board, or on arrival (which seems a bit late).

With only a few weeks to become resident in European Union countries before the transition period ends, many British people are facing a difficult choice. Do they travel to Spain, France or Portugal, which have higher infection rates, and risk needing to quarantine on their return? Is maintaining all their EU rights to residence, work and healthcare, without needing a visa, worth it.

The evidence we are getting at Property Guides is that thousands or us are making the leap and traveling there anyway!

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