Coronavirus travel advice for campers in the UK and Europe
The coronavirus situation is changing on a regular basis. Here is the most up-to-date information about the rules for the UK today.
- Introduction to Covid rules
- Current rules for camping in the UK
- How safe are campsites?
- Advice for travelling to and from Europe
- Quarantine rules for returning to the UK
- Ferry sailings to and from Europe
- Rules for travelling to popular European countries
Introduction to Covid Rules
This page is updated regularly and includes the most up-to-date information for camping and travel during the pandemic.
For the latest detailed government guidance visit the coronavirus page on the UK government website
If you are considering a camping holiday in a tent, motorhome, campervan or caravan it’s vital that you plan properly and are aware of all the rules and regulations both here in the UK and in Europe.
With foreign travel guidance being updated regularly and local lockdowns being introduced to combat spikes in some areas of the UK, it’s important to keep an eye on government advice and only take a trip if it’s safe to do so.
Here you will find everything you need to know about where you can visit with your motorhome, campervan, caravan or tent in the UK and Europe.
If you are planning to travel abroad you should also check the local restrictions in place in the country you intend to visit.
Can I go camping in the UK?
No. Camping is currently not allowed in all parts of the UK. However, as lockdown restrictions are eased, campsites will be allowed to open.
A national lockdown was introduced in England on 4 January 2021 which means you should not leave your home, except for essential purposes. Campsites - in common with all non-essential accomodation - must close and you cannot take holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed. This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if it's not your primary residence.
As part of step 2 of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown, from 12 April 2021, campsites will be allowed to open, but only where indoor facilities like shower and toilet blocks are not shared with other households. This means all campers will need to have their own self-contained washing and toilet facilities, whether they are in a motorhome, campervan, caravan or tent. Check in advance with the sites to make sure they are allowing tents to pitch. All other overnight accommodation – including campsites with shared facilities – will be allowed to open in Step 3, no earlier than 17 May.
If you need to travel abroad from England for a legally permitted reason (eg work) you should check the latest Foreign Office advice on destinations and travel corridors. Foreign holidays will not be allowed from England until 17 May at the earliest.
New restrictions were introduced in Scotland on 4 January which saw the whole of the mainland put into national lockdown, with a legal requirement to stay at home except for essential purposes. Campsites and caravan parks must close. An update on the Scottish government's roadmap out of lockdown on 23 February made no mention of when campsites would reopen, but it's unlikely to be before the end of April at the earliest.
The whole of Wales is currently in Alert Level 4. This means all holiday accommodation, including campsites, must close (except for essential purposes, for example for work or other reasons). Travel within Wales is not permitted, without "reasonable excuse".
Travelling into Wales for a holiday is not permitted during the lockdown and Welsh residents can’t visit other parts of the UK or abroad for a holiday.
No roadmap for easing restrictions has been published yet, however there has been speculation that there could be a phased reopening of some self-catering tourism business by Easter, which will possibly include campsites.
• Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, campsites and services for touring caravans remain closed as part of the restrictions put in place to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and to help manage the pressures on the health and social care system.
The Northern Ireland Executive's pathway out of restrictions sets out an exit plan but no timetable has been confirmed. Caravan sites will be allowed to open without shared facilities in the Gradual Easing third phase, followed by campsites with shared facilities in the next stage, Further Easing. No dates have been set for these stages.
What has been done to make campsites safe?
Campsites across most of the UK are currently closed. When they reopen, strict rules designed to stop the spread of Covid-19 are expected to be in place.
When campsites reopened after lockdown in summer 2020 there were some changes introduced to ensure the safety of campers and campsite workers. Group bookings were mostly ruled out for the time being, and social distancing measures were put in place, with pitches spaced further apart than usual on many sites and floor markings in public areas like the toilet blocks, shops, receptions and washing-up areas.
Some sites closed down their shared facilities altogether, but where they remained open additional cleaning regimes and other measures were put in place. These included frequent deep cleaning, staggered visiting times and restrictions on the number people entering the toilets and showers at a time.
Some campsites supply hand sanitising liquid at communal points such as water taps and playgrounds (if they are open). If the site doesn’t provide it, take your own and use it every time.
• Follow the rules
Of course, camping lends itself to safe holidaying. Motorhomes, caravans and tents are self-contained and being in the open air means that as long as you keep your distance, the risk of infection should be low.
But no matter how many measures are introduced by the campsite owners, it’s down to individual campers to act responsibly and follow all the most up-to-date guidance on mixing with other groups, wearing face masks and hand washing.
Travelling in Europe during Coronavirus
Non-essential overseas travel from the UK is not allowed. Currently travellers returning to the UK from overseas have to go into quarantine for up to 10 days unless they have visited a country that the government has decided is exempt. These travel corridors – sometimes known as air bridges – remove the need for travellers to self-isolate when they return to the UK from overseas. All travel corridors were suspended for a month on 18 January 2021.
When the travel corridor scheme resumes, the countries will be constantly under review by the UK government and the devolved administrations so your travel plans could be disrupted at short notice.
Before returning to the UK you must fill in a “passenger locator” form and provide contact details and a UK address, regardless of whether you have to self-isolate.
Under the Test to Release scheme, people returning to England from countries not on the exempt list and need to self-isolate will be able to take a COVID test with a private test provider to see if they can end their self-isolation early.
If you are abroad you must follow the advice of local authorities for the safety of you and others. Information from local authorities overseas can be found online, and is often available in English. It is your responsibility to know the most up-to-date rules that apply where you are.
Quarantine rules may differ for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland depending on the decisions of the devolved authorities.
Breaking quarantine rules is a criminal offence and fines can be imposed on anyone who does not self-isolate, provide accurate contact details or fill out a passenger locator form ahead of their return.
How long do I need to quarantine?
The length of time you need to spend in quarantine depends on where you have visited in the last two weeks. If you arrive directly in the UK from a country that’s not on the travel corridor list you must self-isolate for 10 days.
• Can I avoid quarantine if I'm driving back from Europe?
In theory, you don’t need to self-isolate if you drive through a non-exempt area (eg France) without stopping. If you do stop, you don’t need to self-isolate if no new people get into the vehicle and no-one in the vehicle mixes with other people.
However if you then take a ferry from France or the Netherlands to the UK you would need to self-isolate on return to the UK, even if you didn’t stop in a non-exempt country, as you would be mixing with other people on board.
Currently the only way to get back to the UK in a vehicle without having to isolate is if you start your journey in an exempt country (eg Germany) then cross the English Channel via Le Shuttle from Calais without stopping in France or any other non-exempt country.
• Do I have to leave a country if the rules change?
Quarantine rules or essential-travel advice might change for a country while you are already there but in those circumstances there is no need to leave immediately.
The latest UK government advice on self-isolating when you are travelling into the UK can be found here: Self Isolating Rules
Are ferries still sailing as normal?
Many ferry services between the UK and Europe are still operating during the pandemic, with additional safety measures in place. If you decide not to travel due to the coronavirus situation, in most cases ferry operators are allowing passengers to switch their ticket to a future sailing date for free. If you decide to cancel your trip completely, standard ferry operator terms and conditions will apply which might mean you have to pay a fee.
Travel Restrictions by Country
Vist the Foreign Office website to find out the current travel rules for the major European destinations for motorhomers and campers. Many countries have imposed bans on people travelling from the UK. If you are visiting another country it is important to be aware of the rules that have been put in place by the local authorities. Entry restrictions in some countries may be different depending on the areas you have passed though en route.