International Travel - Risks & Health

Date: 14.10.2016     Last updated: 17.04.2019 at 15.36
This is a guide for BBC staff planning to travel overseas. It covers the basic precautions needed when travelling to countries usually deemed to be of low health risk, for example, most of Europe, Scandanavia, North America, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

This is however not exclusive and circumstances can change depending on current events and the activities you are planning to undertake.

Travel to other countries may require a specific written risk assessment.

Please check the High Risk Country Pages and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) pages before you travel for latest advice.

What Can Go Wrong?

  • Accidents
  • Health related problems related to travel (e.g. DVT’s) and pre-existing conditions.
  • Poor standards of health, hygiene, and hospital care if help is needed.
  • Accidents or incidents when driving or travelling in hired or contracted vehicles
  • Some airlines are banned by the EU, risk assess before use
  • Crime and threats to individuals

Legal/BBC Requirements

  • When the only travel option is on EU banned airlines you must produce a risk assessment and get senior manager authorisation/sign-off.

Control Measures

Before Travelling - General

  • Contact BBC Insurance to check what you are covered for and ensure your own personal travel insurance is valid and sufficient.
  • Book any travel via BBC Procurement travel site on Gateway using preferred suppliers. If not, use reputable travel providers wherever possible.
  • Check information on local weather, power supply and adaptors required, transport, visa requirements, culture, language and attitudes to help you plan.
  • Download travel, map, currency, sat nav and translation apps and ensure phone will work abroad.
  • Ensure your Line Manager and/or deployer has your contact details, next of kin and hotel/travel plans – keep them up to date and arrange how you will stay in contact whilst you are away.
  • Inform the nearest local BBC bureau (see link) of your visit and the local embassy where appropriate.
  • Ensure you have sufficient funds and resources for all likely outgoings including emergencies before departure.
  • Ideally plan schedule including working hours accordingly taking into consideration travel and time differences.
  • Ensure you have relevant permissions from relevant authorities to film before you travel.

Before Travelling - Health

  • Ensure you are fit to travel. People with pre-existing medical conditions or at risk from DVT, should discuss any concerns with their GP or the BBC Occupational Health (OH) and take sufficient medications for pre-existing conditions
  • Contact OH in good time before travel for latest advice on health risks, malaria prevention and for any inoculations required. Take advantage of the online travel health assessment, details of which will be sent to you when you book in for travel advice and vaccinations
  • See links in r/h margin on risks from malaria and zika fever if you are travelling to areas where these are endemic
  • The biggest infection risk is from food, water and insect bites. BBC Safety Stores offer a wide range of equipment, including mosquito nets & first aid kits
  • Read Passport to Health: A guide for International Travellers
  • If you are travelling within Europe (and are an EU citizen) ensure you have completed an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • If you are travelling to remote locations you should prepare an emergency medical evacuation plan, read the Medical Emergency Evacuation page for more information.
  • Select an aisle seat for long distance flights; make regular movements to reduce risk of DVT

During Trip

  • When flying drink plenty of water and move about to reduce risk of DVT.
  • Ensure you observe good personal hygiene, drink only bottled water and avoid high risk foods.
  • Arrange to be met by local BBC driver organised via local bureau, fixer or maybe arrange airport pick-up from hotel. This also applies when travelling locally.
  • If hiring local car and driver make some basic checks like driver’s licence, seat belts and vehicle maintenance.
  • If driving yourself, ensure you're not overly tired from travel and time difference. Ensure you have correct paperwork and book car via reputable company, via BBC travel site.
  • Check vehicle before setting off for its condition, correct equipment provided, adequate fuel. eg, triangle, hi-viz jacket as required locally and for any vignette/motorway passes required.
  • Where possible, only carry essential equipment, valuables and money and be inconspicuous where possible.
  • Use hotel safe where available to secure valuable info and kit.
  • Tuck a small amount of currency in your wash bag or body belt as an emergency backup.
  • Keep photocopy of your passport/visa and any valuable contact details in case of loss of phone; and local addresses for BBC and British Consulates..
  • If hiring or purchasing equipment locally ensure you get it from a reputable supplier and undertake some basic visual checks.
  • Be aware of and discuss with team the local security issues including attitude to the BBC, hostility to journalists and general crime levels.
  • Report any incidents or near misses to your line manager or contact back at the office.

On return

  • Should you suffer any ill health please seek urgent medical advice via your local GP or A&E Department if required.
  • If you get a temperature on your return tell the person treating you where and when you travelled. Malaria can occur up to 12 months after you leave the last malaria area visited – even if you have taken your tablets.
  • Report any incidents or accidents on myRisks.

Division Specific Issues


  • If you are a very regular international traveller and your job involves travelling at short notice (usually in News) then you can have your core vaccinations (tetanus, Polio, Diphtheria, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A) kept up to date. This offers advantages over a trip by trip approach but you must always seek advice prior to any international trip.

FAQs/Did You Know?

  • The ‘Know before You Go’ website offers some invaluable information to stay safe and healthy for those travelling.
  • In country British embassies may provide a list of lawyers, translators and doctors but their staff do not take any responsibility for their competence or ability or, the consequence of any legal action initiated or advice given.
  • Call the BBC’s emergency health assistance provider if you require urgent medical help whilst abroad (credit card style info is available).
  • For non-emergency situations you can still call the emergency health assistance provider who may be able to direct you to appropriate local medical or hospital facilities.
  • The BBC Safety app available for Android, iPhone and iPads contains some useful relevant links and essential key contacts.
  • There is always someone on-call in BBC Safety 24-7-365. Please can Duty Facilities Manager at New Broadcasting House for contact details.

 Safety Guides - Quick Links

About this site

This site describes what the BBC does in relation to managing its health, safety and security risks and is intended for those who work directly for the BBC.

It is not intended to provide instruction or guidance on how third parties should manage their risks. The BBC cannot be held liable for how this information is interpreted or used by third parties, nor provide any assurance that adopting it would provide any measure of legal compliance. More information.

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