Travelling to unsafe countries

You, or your employees, may need to travel to many different countries, each with its own customs, culture and hazards. Depending on the circumstances of the trip or the political climate of the country, there could be added risks. You can stay safe and healthy abroad by taking a few simple precautions.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) recommends several practises before and during trips abroad that will help you mitigate the risks associated with travelling to potentially unstable countries. Before you leave, the FCO recommends that you research your destination, create a travel checklist, ensure you have the required documentation and purchase comprehensive business travel insurance.

Research Your Destination

Research is essential to ensuring a successful trip and maintaining your safety and that of your employees. The political climate of a country can shift rapidly, necessitating up-to-the-minute research to properly gauge your safety abroad.

Foreign Travel Advice

The UK government provides ‘Foreign Travel Advice’, a free Web service located at, to facilitate research prior to travelling abroad.

The ‘Foreign Travel Advice’ section includes updated, country-specific information for travellers, such as safety and security, terrorism, local laws, and customs and entry requirements.

Checking the Health Risks

Travellers can also consult the National Health Service (Scotland)’s website ‘Fit for Travel’ at This site provides detailed, country-specific health information such as required immunisations, malaria risks and recent health news. Be sure to confirm that you are up-to-date on your immunisations. You should always consult your GP before travelling abroad.

Obtain the Required Documents

Before travelling abroad, you should verify that you possess a valid passport and any other necessary documentation, such as a visa. It takes at least six weeks to receive your first passport, and at least three weeks to renew or replace your passport, so plan accordingly. Information on passports can be found at

Make sure that you bring copies of your travel documents. Consider storing these copies on a secure online data storage site. Remember to provide your emergency contact with your itinerary and contact details so he or she can reach you.

Purchase Travel Insurance

An emergency abroad can be extremely expensive. It costs £35,000-45,000 for an air ambulance back to the United Kingdom from the United States. The British Embassy will not pay for this transport, and your credit card accident cover, private health or EHIC may not suffice.

If you already have travel insurance, be sure you know what it covers. Travel insurance can cover the following:

  • An injury or sudden illness abroad
  • Twenty-four-hour emergency service and assistance
  • Personal liability
  • Lost and stolen possessions
  • Cancellation and curtailment
  • Legal expenses
  • Any activities you’ll be doing that aren’t normally covered, like hiking

Travel insurance typically excludes:

  • Drink- or drug-related incidents
  • Damage which resulted from the insured’s negligent care of his or her belongings

About 60 per cent of policies now cover terrorism. Ensure that you are covered, especially if you are travelling to an unstable country.