RFXplainer: Travelling overseas to buy, sell or let property
As of March 29th, foreign travel from the UK remains illegal for all but non-essential reasons. Anyone caught unlawfully travelling could be fined up to £5,000. Those essential reasons, however, include anything “in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property.” That includes “preparing a residential property to move in” or “to visit a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property”.
So if you have to go abroad to facilitate the purchase or sale of a second home or to prepare it for post-pandemic lettings, according to the new rules, this should be ok.
In our first RFXplainer blog, we’ll give you all the information you need if you have to travel for any of the above reasons.
What will I need to travel?
Travel declaration form
Before you leave the UK, you’ll need to fill in a Travel Declaration Form and print this off and bring it with you to the airport, train station or ferry port. You can find them on the Government’s website or here.
Wherever you need to go, you’ll need a negative test when you arrive. The main thing to note is that for a number of countries, the NHS tests available here in the UK will not be enough.
Spain, for example, requires either PCR, TMA or Lamp tests and you’ll need to go private to acquire one of these.
Most countries currently require the negative test to have been taken inside 72 hours of your arrival and many will test you again when you arrive.
You can find out the test requirements of any country in the world from the UK Government’s Foreign Travel Advice page.
Any required travel documentation
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has added even more paperwork to international travel. Before you go, check the UK Government’s Foreign Travel Advice page for any required documentation.
I’m allowed to leave Britain, but where can I go?
Not all foreign governments agree that property affairs constitute an essential reason to travel. So before you go, make sure you’ll be allowed in. Again, the UK Gov’s foreign travel advice page is your best source for up to date information but here’s a current summary of some of the most popular property destinations for UK residents.
Property affairs are not currently deemed essential travel by the Spanish authorities.
The current entry requirements for Spain are here.
UK residents can now enter France for non-essential reasons. So those with property or those looking to purchase property in France would be allowed to enter. However, you’ll need a negative test and have to self-isolate for seven days before taking another test. You’ll also have to sign a form declaring you’re symptom free and have not been near anyone with symptoms in the last two weeks.
France entered a fresh national lockdown at the start of April. It is set to last for four weeks and is a lot less strict than previous measures. The official travel advice hasn’t changed but it may be worth waiting until the lockdown is over to conduct any business as non-essential travel within France is currently restricted.
The current entry requirements for France are here.
It is not immediately clear if the Portugese would allow you in for property reasons. But any essential travel requires physical, documented proof so you would likely have to justify the importance and essentiality of your trip.
It’s also important to note that anybody travelling from the UK has to quarantine for fourteen days on arrival.
The current entry requirements for Portugal are here.
Italy is currently under another national lockdown until at least April 30th and UK citizens are blocked from entering indefinitely. There are some exceptions but only for “absolute necessities”. It’s highly unlikely property affairs would be accepted as an exception.
The current entry requirements for Italy are here.
You are currently unable to enter America if you have been in the UK within the last fourteen days.
The current entry requirements for the USA are here.
UK residents can now enter Greece for non-essential reasons so those with property interests will be able to enter. However, you’ll need to arrive with a negative test and take another one on arrival. You’ll then have to self isolate for seven days, assuming this is negative. You will have to isolate for fourteen days if you test positive.
The current entry requirements for Greece are here.
Until March 31st, temporary visitors from the UK are currently not allowed to enter Cyprus. Cypriot citizens and their family members (including their parents, foreign spouses, and children under 18), and legal residents of the Republic of Cyprus are exempt and may enter.
This is set to change from April 1st when the restrictions into the country will be lifted. From then, any visitors from the UK can avoid quarantine if they provide a negative PCR Covid test. From May 1st, anyone who can provide proof they are fully vaccinated will be able to enter without testing or quarantining.
The current entry requirements for Cyprus here.
When will non-essential travel out of the UK be allowed?
The current travel ban from the UK will officially end on June 30th. However, Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have both indicated travel restrictions could be lifted as early as May 17th.
The UK Government’s Global Travel Taskforce will present their evidence and reveal when they plan to lift the restrictions on April 12th.
When non-essential travel is permitted, the Government will introduce a traffic light system. This will mean that anyone travelling to a ‘green’ country will be able to return to the UK without quarantining on arrival. However, they will still need to provide a negative test to board their return flight and take another test when they land back in Britain.
For all up to date travel advice, please check the UK Government’s Foreign Advice Travel Page.
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