COVID-19  update – current as at 16 June 2022

Please note that if you are travelling, it is your responsibility to comply with relevant COVID-19 and travel regulations at both your destination and when returning home. Many of these regulations have legal enforcement in place and you may be breaking the law locally or may be denied boarding to travel if you do not comply with them.

If you are not on the UK campus, you should also check your own government’s rules about travelling abroad and returning home.


Planning travel domestically

If you are travelling domestically then you only need to submit a travel declaration where your trip involves an overnight stay, where you are engaging in a higher-risk activity (i.e. not meetings, conferences, studying, etc.), or where the FCDO advises against all, or 'all but essential' travel.

For clarity, travelling domestically is defined as the following:

  • Travelling within Scotland, when you are based at one of the Scottish Campuses
  • Travelling within Malaysia when you are based at the Malaysia Campus
  • Travelling within the UAE when you are based at the Dubai Campus (with the exception of travel to Abu Dhabi, which does require a Travel Declaration)

If you are unclear about whether you need to complete a travel declaration, please get in touch with Assurance Services to discuss your situation.


Planning travel internationally

If you are planning to travel internationally on University business, you should do the following things:

  • Current Government Guidance on Travel - Familiarise yourself with the current restrictions in place, and actions you should take in order to travel to your planned destination, using the UK Government’s Foreign, Development and Commonwealth Office’s (FCDO) travel advice website. This website provides useful travel information for every country globally, including current restrictions and actions you should take when travelling to that destination. The University uses the UK Government advice to inform its travel approvals for students and staff.

If your destination is classed as ‘advise against all but essential travel to’ on the FCDO website then your trip would need to be approved as ‘essential’ for it to proceed. Please contact Assurance Services for further advice.

  • Arriving in your home country from abroad - Familiarise yourself with the current regulations and actions you should take for returning home at the end of your trip. Depending on where home is, this may include the requirement for booking PCR Covid tests and self-isolation. This can often be found on your home country's government website which for Scottish staff can be found here.
  • Travel Declaration - Complete a University Travel Declaration form as soon as possible even if your precise travel dates have not yet been finalised. This helps the University to assess and approve your trip in good time and to enable you to book your travel confident that your trip is approved and insured. When your Travel Declaration is approved, you will receive a link to the University’s travel insurance policy. Please keep a copy of this with you when you travel. It includes details of cover provided and how to make a claim.
  • Travel Risk Assessment If one or more of the following criteria applies then you must complete an additional Travel Risk Assessment document:
    • You are planning on travelling to a higher-risk country (currently: Israel, Nigeria, Mexico, Columbia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Russia, plus any countries advised by UK Government as ‘advise against all but essential travel’). Please note that several of these countries require individual insurer confirmations of cover, so you should submit your request well in advance.
    • You are undertaking higher-risk activities during the trip. These may include activities such as research fieldwork, placement activities in an industrial workplace, diving, mountain climbing etc.
    • You have an underlying medical or health condition or illness that requires disclosure and consideration from a risk perspective.

The Travel Risk Assessment should be signed by an appropriate member of staff in your School or Directorate and if you are unsure, please contact Assurance Services who can provide advice.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

  • Download the University’s SafeZone app. This app is required for all students and staff travelling on University business and contains useful safety information, as well as allowing you to contact the University in an emergency and the University to contact you.

​​​​​​​You should only book travel once your Travel Declaration has been approved. Consider booking travel on a flexible basis to allow for cancellation and curtailment of trips if required.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, any student/staff member of Heriot Watt are not permitted to fly on University business with any airline affiliated with Russia. 



Short holidays

Sometimes University travellers want to extend their business trip to add on a short holiday to the beginning or end of business trips, these can be permitted and insured generally if they are: in the same country as the business element of the trip, less than a week in length, and if they are not longer than the business element of the trip. If you intend to do this, please contact Assurance Services to confirm if this will be permitted. If permitted, the full trip including holiday element should be recorded in the Travel Declaration.

Impact of BREXIT on travel to/from the UK

The UK has left the European Union, and this has changed some of the requirements for UK travellers travelling to EU destinations and for EU travellers coming to the UK. Please ensure you have familiarised yourself with entry and visa requirements using the UK or EU country websites and it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa and travel documentation to gain entry to your destination, and this may include ensuring your passport has at least six months validity at the end of your trip. If you have any queries relating to travel and BREXIT, please contact Assurance Services who can provide further information.

Visas/Consular letters

Certain destination countries require you to obtain a visa prior to travelling. This may require you to obtain a consular letter which shows that you are a member of staff or student at Heriot-Watt University. Depending on the country involved, you may either obtain a visa by post or by attending the relevant embassy in person and possibly having an interview. You should check the specific requirements of the destination country. If you require a consular letter, please tick the appropriate box in the Travel Declaration.

Is Travel Insurance the same as Medical/Health Insurance cover?

Please note that our Travel Insurance cover is not equivalent to private Health or Medical Insurance cover. This policy is a travel insurance policy only and so provides cover for emergency medical treatment as part of the benefits provided. Our Travel Insurance policy is not as comprehensive as private Medical, or Health Insurance cover and the University does not provide Medical/Health Insurance Cover for students or staff in the UK. The element of emergency medical cover within the Travel Insurance policy is sufficient to allow students and staff to travel safely on University business.

If the destination countries or receiving institutions require students or staff to take out Medical or Health Insurance Cover to a specific level then this will need to be arranged privately.

Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) and EHIC cards

If you are travelling to a European destination, you should consider whether you should take an EHIC card if you already have one or apply for a GHIC card. If your travel has been approved, you will be covered by the University’s Travel Insurance policy which includes an element of emergency medical cover. However, the EHIC and GHIC cards provide comprehensive and easy to use access to healthcare when visiting European destinations. It is important to remember that Travel Insurance is not an alternative to a GHIC. Travel Insurance will provide support and response to emergency treatment. It is not intended to support routine or ‘everyday’ medical treatment. 

Key information

Assurance Services