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Coronavirus ferry passenger FAQs

By 16/06/2020September 10th, 2021FAQs, Information


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, spacious public lounges 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 increased hygiene and sanitisation measures, extra signage to help inform customers on how to keep themselves safe, the requirement to wear face coverings (unless exempt) and on some services staggered boarding and disembarkation.

It is also worth noting that during lockdowns 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?

You can travel by ferry now. Travel is not restricted within the United Kingdom, and the Common Travel Area (Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Isles) is allowing entry to fully vaccinated Brits. However there are different travel restrictions still in place for those who are not fully vaccinated.

For the latest government advice on travel, please check the following links:

Where can I currently travel to by ferry?

Travel has reopened domestically in the UK and within the Common Travel Area, France and Spain for fully vaccinated Brits. Varying restrictions are in place for travel to France, Spain and The Netherlands so please check before travel.

Before travelling we’d recommend taking a rapid lateral flow test. Do not travel if you are showing any symptoms of Coronavirus or feel unwell.

Please note that it is still mandatory to wear face coverings (unless exempt) on most ferry services from the UK, Channel Islands and Ireland.

United Kingdom

Ferry services are operating to their advertised schedule . Please check with your ferry operator here for the latest service update.

Common Travel Area

Channel Islands

Ferry services to and from Guernsey and Jersey are operating from Portsmouth and Poole. For more information click here.

Guernsey and Jersey’s borders are open for fully vaccinated visitors from the Common Travel Area without the need to self-isolate on arrival, restrictions are still in place for unvaccinated visitors and children. Check the latest travel advice from the Bailiwick of Guernsey and Jersey.

Isle of Man

Ferry services to and from the Isle of Man from Heysham, Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin are operating.

The Isls of Man’s borders are open to fully vaccinated visitors from the Common Travel Area, and children under the age of 5, without the need for testing or self-isolation. The latest government advice regarding travel to the Isle of Man can be found here


Ferry services to the Republic of Ireland are operating as scheduled.

Ireland’s borders are open to fully vaccinated visitors from the Common Travel Area, and children under the age of 12, without the need for testing or self-isolation. The latest government guidance on entering Ireland from Great Britain can be found here.

Continental Europe 


Ferries are operating to France as scheduled.

For current entry requirements to France and arrival requirements to the UK after visiting France see https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france

The Netherlands

Ferries are operating to The Netherlands for essential travel.

Restrictions are in place to travel to and from The Netherlands. See here for the latest advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/netherlands


Ferries are opertating to Spain as scheduled.

For current entry requirements for Spain and arrival requirements to the UK after visiting Spain see https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain

What are the rules for international travel to/ from Great Britain?

Due to the pandemic, travel requirements are subject to change so please check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice before travel here. There is also an official UK government step-by-step guide to travelling abroad available here.

For international arrivals to England there is a traffic light system in place which applies to people differently depending on whether the destination visited is categorised as ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’ and whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

Green: arrivals will need to take a pre-departure test as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day 2 of their arrival back into England – but will not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) or take any additional tests,
Amber: arrivals will need to quarantine for a period of 10 days and take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 with the option for Test to Release (England only) on day 5 to end self-isolation early. Fully vaccinated arrivals from ‘Amber’ list countries need only to take a pre-departure test as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day 2 of their arrival back into England – but will not need to quarantine on return.
Red: arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for ‘red list’ countries which include a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and PCR testing on day 2 and 8.

For the government approved list of suppliers of PCR testing packages for day 2 and 8, click here.

When you are returning to the UK, you are also required to complete an online passenger locator form from the British Government. 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).

Note that if you transit an ‘amber’ or ‘red’ country to return from a ‘green’ country then you will need to follow the rules for the amber or red country.

We advise you to also check the entry requirments of the country you are travelling to here.  Some countries may require proof of a negative PCR test a maximum of 72-hours before arrival. ‘Fit to Travel’ PCR tests should be booked in advance. You will need to make sure your test provider will return your result to you prior to the start of your journey.

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

Yes, you need to wear a face covering when travelling by ferry, unless you are exempt for medical reasons. Due to changing guidance we recommend checking what is required with your ferry operator before you travel.

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. You will be required to wear a face covering in the public areas on board the ship and are encouraged to use contactless payment methods when making on board purchases.

Can I book a flexible ticket?

Yes, absolutely. If you want the added security of being able to make last minute changes to your booking, then we’d recommend buying a flexible ticket. Please check the operator’s website for individual ticket terms and conditions.

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

Ticket amendments will depend on the terms and conditions of the ticket you purchased. 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 advise passengers check all terms of travel and consider booking flexible tickets to ensure travel can be amended without incurring any additional fees.

As ferry companies are experiencing high volumes of requests during 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 may allow customers to amend their travel dates without incurring an amendment fee.

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 [email protected]
Address: 30 Park Street, London, SE1 9EQ

For Scotland -Transport for Scotland (Scottish Government)
E-mail: [email protected]

For Northern Ireland – Consumer Council for Northern Ireland
E-mail: [email protected]
Address: The Consumer Council, Elizabeth House, 116 Holywood Road, Belfast BT4 1NY
Telephone: 0800 121 6022, Text phone: 028 9067 2488

View all ferry FAQs