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 campers in 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 in the UK and Europe during the pandemic.
For the latest detailed government guidance visit the coronavirus page on the UK government website and the websites for the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
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?
Yes! Camping is currently allowed in all parts of the UK as lockdown restrictions are eased.
From 12 April 2021, as part of step 2 of the Government's roadmap out of the national lockdown in England, campsites will be allowed to open and people will be able to take camping holidays. Initially it was announced that it would only be campsites where indoor facilities like shower and toilet blocks were not shared with other households, meaning campers would need to have their own self-contained washing and toilet facilities, whether they were in a motorhome, campervan, caravan or tent.
However new guidance issued by the UK Government on 8 April clarified the rules.
Campsites and caravan parks will be permitted to open as long as the only shared facilities used by guests are receptions, washing facilities (including facilities for laundering clothes), public toilets, baby changing rooms, breastfeeding rooms, water points and waste disposal points. These should be cleaned regularly and be well ventiliated and campers are being urged to keep contact with other households to a minimum.
Shower facilities should be only be operated in a way that ensures no household mixing takes place. This would mean either assigning private shower facilities to one group or running a reservation and clean process – where one household can exclusively book the shared facilities for a fixed time, and the facilities are cleaned between reservations.
The Caravan and Motorhome Club has announced that it will be opening most sites in England on 12 April and will have toilets and shared washing and cleaning facilities – excluding showers. Operational issues mean some campsites will not have toilet and shared washing and cleaning facilities ready to open straight away.
Tent campers are advised to contact the Club campsite directly to make a booking.
The most recent information from the Camping and Caravanning Club is that its sites in England and Wales were opening but shared toilet/shower blocks will be closed until 17 May. Campers will be allowed to use chemical toilets that can be disposed of via waste disposal points, and a toilet tent can be put up on your pitch.
Before you book any campsite, check in advance with individual sites to find out what facilities they will have open and make sure they are allowing tents to pitch. If sites decide to open without shared facilities then you may be allowed to bring your own toilet and shower facilities, but again, check what the site will allow.
All other overnight accommodation – including campsites with shared facilities – will be allowed to open fully 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.
Campsites in Scotland were given the go-ahead to reopen after lockdown on 26 April, when overnight stays in tourist accommodation were permitted, but only with members of your own household or extended household. Unrestricted travel within Scotland and between Scotland and England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man is also allowed.
The Camping and Caravanning Club has reopened most of its sites in Scotland, with facility blocks operating, with official measures in place.
The Caravan And Motorhome Club's Scottish sites have all been reopened and toilets, showers and shared washing and cleaning facilities will be available at campsites in Scotland which have them. Tent campers should contact the relevant Club campsite directly.
Anyone planning to travel to a Scottish island is encouraged to take a Covid to test before they set off to reduce the risk of coronavirus being brought into island communities.
Travel restrictions remain in place for travel between Scotland and the rest of the world so overseas holidays are not yet allowed.
Campsites in Wales are now open, but toilets and showers and other indoor shared facilities remain closed for now. Campers must bring their own washing and toilet facilities.
Travel restrictions between Wales and the rest of the UK were lifted on 12 April at which point campers from other parts of the UK were able to book sites in Wales – depending on the travel restrictions in place where they live.
• Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, campsites and services for touring caravans were allowed to reopen from 30 April. The rules only allow self-contained accommodation with no shared facilities, which can be exclusively used by a single household or bubble. It is hoped all tourism accommodation will be able to reopen by May 24.
What has been done to make campsites safe?
Where they are allowed to open, strict rules designed to stop the spread of Covid-19 are in place at campsites.
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.
Visitors to campsites in England and Wales will have to complete Track and Trace information.
• 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 all parts of 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. Further details on overseas leisure travel are expected later in the year but there have been warnings that foreign holidays may not be allowed this summer.
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.