FAQs on post-lockdown travel by ferry


Due to the current pandemic, travel requirements and restrictions are subject to change. The following guidance is designed to help guide passengers on the latest information relating to travel by ferry.

How safe is ferry travel post Covid lockdown?

Ferry travel is very safe. The safety of passengers and crew is our members’ top priority.

One of the great things about modern ferry travel is that it lends itself well to social distancing, with open deck areas, wide public spaces and even your own comfortable cabin on some of the longer crossings.

In response to the current Covid-19 situation, ferry and port operators have also added additional safety measures and protocols. These include reducing the number of passengers able to travel on board at any one time, increased hygiene and sanitisation measures, staggered boarding and disembarkation and signage to help inform customers on how to keep themselves safe.

It is also worth noting that many of our members have continued to operate ferry services to transport essential goods such as food and medical equipment, as well as keeping lifeline services running for island communities and key workers.

When can I travel by ferry?

That depends on where you live, as there are different travel restrictions in place across England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

The UK government has announced a list of countries that are exempt from travel and quarantine restrictions when travelling from and returning to England. The Welsh government and Northern Irish executive have also accepted these exemptions, though Scotland’s exemption list varies slightly.

As a result, ferry services have started to increase, but are not yet all running at full capacity. They may also be subject to additional changes. Click here for the latest sailing schedules.

Please note that all passengers arriving from overseas to the UK are legally required to complete an online COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form, which can be accessed here.

For the latest government advice on travel in your area, please check out the following:

Where can I currently travel to by ferry?

At the moment, although some restrictions have been lifted, there are still international and regional travel restrictions in place. Travel advice and restrictions are subject to change, depending on government amendments.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice to travellers is that they should only travel if essential, unless you are travelling to one of the exempt destinations. For the latest advice, please check here

Travel restrictions and guidance currently differs in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and the British Islands of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

Please note that in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, it is a legal requirement to wear face coverings on all public transport, including on ferries. It is not currently a legal requirement in Ireland but it is still recommended.


In England overnight stays are permitted in most areas. Please note that regional lockdowns are being imposed in some parts of the UK and you should check the latest advice before travelling. Please check with your ferry operator here to find out if and when they are sailing.

There are ferry services operating between UK and Ireland to enable the flow of essential goods, services and for essential travel. On arrival in the Republic of Ireland you are currently required to quarantine for 14 days.


Ferry services are operating at reduced capacity to comply with Covid protocols. Please check the service update if you are travelling to the Scottish islands before you travel.

Up-to-date information and advice from Transport Scotland can be found here


There are ferry services operating from Wales to Ireland for essential travel and the transportation of goods such as food and medical equipment. On arrival in the Republic of Ireland you are currently required to quarantine for 14 days.

The latest government advice regarding transport and travel in Wales can be found here

British Islands

Channel Islands

Ferry services to and from Jersey resumed on July 4. Scheduled passenger services to Guernsey are yet to restart. For more information click here.

The latest travel advice from Jersey can be found here.

The latest travel advice from the Bailiwick of Guernsey can be found here.

Isle of Man

The Isle of Man’s borders are currently closed, therefore ferry travel to the island is not possible at this time, except for limited exceptions. The latest government advice regarding travel to the Isle of Man can be found here

What can I do on board?

In many cases, you will be able to walk around the ferry, enjoy the fresh air from the outside deck area and relax in a comfortable seating area with other members of your group.

Some services are offering a selection of food and drink options while you sail, and, on the longer journeys, you may be able to enjoy your own space in a private cabin.

Facilities and requirements will vary depending on the ship and service you’re taking, so we recommend you check with your ferry operator for full details.

Please note that additional measures have been put in place by all ferry operators for your safety as well as that of the crew. These include the availability of extra hand-sanitisers, increased cleaning and signage to help with social distancing and other safety information. In most cases you will be required to wear a face covering in the public areas on board the ship.

What are the quarantine rules for travel to and from the UK?

Current travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), advises against all but essential international travel, unless you are travelling to one of the exempt destinations. For the latest advice, please check here.

Due to the pandemic, travel requirements are subject to change as restrictions are being reviewed, so we advise you to check the latest government advice for changes before you travel.

When you are returning to the UK, you may be required to complete an online form from the British Government and self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. This does not apply when returning from travel within the UK and for countries in the Common Travel Area (the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland).  For countries that are listed as being exempt, when returning to England, Northern Ireland and Wales, or Scotland you will not need to self-isolate but you will still need to complete the form.

Note that if you transit a non-exempt country to go to an exempt country then you will still need to self-isolate for 14 days – check here for the rules on transiting a non-exempt country.

You are able to travel to the Republic of Ireland if your trip is essential, but you are currently required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, unless you are travelling from Northern Ireland. Full details can be found here.

Do I need to wear a face covering when I travel by ferry?

New rules on face coverings on public transport in England were introduced on 15 June, in Scotland from 22 June, in Northern Ireland from 10 July and in Wales from 27 July.  This includes ferry transport. Full details and requirements for England can be found here, for Scotland here, for Northern Ireland here and for Wales here.

Face coverings are not currently required on public transport in Ireland, but are advised. Some ferry operators do, however, require passengers to wear face coverings whilst travelling on their services and we recommend checking out what is required by your ferry operator before you travel.

Can I book a ferry as part of my summer holiday this year (2020)?

Yes, most operators are accepting ferry bookings for travel this summer, but we advise you check the operator’s website for confirmation of sailing timetables and other travel details.

With over 80 ferry routes across the UK, British Islands and Ireland, as well as over to Europe, there is plenty of choice for you to book a ferry for a great break this summer. Click here for more inspiration on where you can travel.

What can I do if I want to postpone my travel?

During this exceptional situation and depending on when your original travel is booked for, some ferry operators are offering passengers the option to postpone their travel to a later date without incurring amendment fees, although other terms and conditions will be applicable. We recommend passengers check all terms of travel and consider booking flexible tickets to ensure travel can be amended without incurring an amendment fee.

As many operators are receiving extremely high call volumes at this time, we recommend that you first look to amend your booking online via your operator’s website, where you can also find further information and instructions on booking amendments.

If I need to cancel my booking will I get a refund?

This depends on the type of ticket you purchased, the reason for the cancellation and the terms and conditions that apply to your ticket. We recommend that passengers purchase more flexible ticket options if they want the security of being able to cancel or rebook. If you need to cancel your ticket, we recommend you review your ticket terms and conditions and then contact your operator to understand what your options are in the first instance.

Ferry operators are only required to refund those with non-refundable tickets if their passenger service is cancelled or delayed for more than 90 minutes. However, during this time operators are generally allowing customers to amend their travel dates without incurring an amendment fee, and are, in some cases, offering to hold a customer’s ticket price as a credit against future travel.

We recommend all passengers take out travel insurance when booking travel and that the policy includes Covid-related travel disruption.

Please note that Discover Ferries does not have regulatory authority over ferry members. In cases where passengers have a dispute regarding Ferry Travel Passenger Rights, we recommend contacting the below organisations:

ABTA is the Voluntary Complaints Handling Body for ferry services from England & Wales
Transport for Scotland for ferry services from Scotland
The Consumer Council for ferry services from Northern Ireland

For England and Wales ferry passengers (excluding services operated, contracted and / or licensed by Transport for London) –
Email ferry@abta.co.uk  https://www.abta.com/help-and-complaints/ferry-complaints
Address: 30 Park Street, London, SE1 9EQ

For Scotland -Transport for Scotland (Scottish Government)
E-mail: MPRAppeals@transportscotland.gov.uk

For Northern Ireland – Consumer Council for Northern Ireland
E-mail: complaints@consumercouncil.org.uk
Address: The Consumer Council, Elizabeth House, 116 Holywood Road, Belfast BT4 1NY
Telephone: 0800 121 6022, Text phone: 028 9067 2488

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