You want to take the leap and start afresh in a new country – but of course, you also want to be safe from COVID-19.

Fortunately, there are nations out there that took the global pandemic seriously from the beginning, have been through the worst of the virus, and are now able to let foreigners in.

Unfortunately, British nationals aren’t always invited. Make sure to check whether your chosen country will let you in.

Lots of countries are being cautious and locking down their borders entirely, while many of those that are letting some nationalities in don’t include the UK on their safe list.

We’re therefore only able to give an honourable mention to New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam, which all would’ve featured in this article – if you were allowed in.

woman looking at flight schedule in airport

It’s hard to know where you can go during this global pandemic

The 9 safest countries right now

1. Taiwan
2. Iceland
3. Singapore
4. South Korea
5. Norway
6. Austria
7. Denmark
8. Germany
9. Switzerland

a chart showing COVID-19 deaths in 10 countries

The UK hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory, compared to these countries

Taiwan

CasesDeathsDeath rate
46771.5%

Taiwan has done incredibly well in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

The East Asian country of 24 million people has only recorded 467 cases of the virus, and has suffered just seven deaths.

That’s fewer fatalities than São Tomé and Príncipe, which has a population of 211,000 – 113 times less than Taiwan.

Most importantly, there have been no deaths in Taiwan since May 12th, according to Our World in Data.

Taiwan learned harsh lessons from the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed 73 people in the country. In 2004, it set up the National Health Command Centre, which has sprung into action during this pandemic.

On December 31st, after limited reports of a dangerous virus in China, officials boarded flights from Wuhan (where the virus started spreading) to test passengers.

Taiwan closed its borders on March 19th, and started tracking the phones of people in quarantine. If you break quarantine, you can be fined £8,000 – and people have been.

As a result of quickly implementing these tough actions, the country never had to go into lockdown – and in April, the situation was good enough for Taiwan to donate 10 million masks to countries in need.

Despite lying just 80 miles away from China, Taiwan is your best, safest choice.

What you’ll need to do

  • Provide authorities with a negative COVID-19 test at least three working days before boarding your flight into Taiwan
  • Fill in a health declaration of your travel history for the past 14 days
  • Self-isolate for 14 days after you arrive, or risk an £8,000 fine

Iceland

CasesDeathsDeath rate
1,872100.5%

One island follows another, which shows that it’s easier to avoid a disastrous outbreak if you’re surrounded by water – though not simple enough for some countries.

Iceland started testing on January 31st, four weeks before the country recorded its first case on February 28th.

The government tracked each individual case, and managed to control the spread while imposing relatively mild restrictions.

From March 24th, no more than 20 people could gather in one place, but just two months later on May 25th, this was upgraded to 200.

Just seven weeks later, on July 5th, the government stated that 500 people could gather.

The country has allowed in visitors from the Schengen Area (which includes the UK), as long as they take a COVID-19 test.

And don’t worry, Iceland isn’t just being blasé with tourists’ wellbeing. The country’s policies have worked extremely well.

There have been no COVID-19 deaths since April 21st, according to Our World in Data – more than three months.

In total, there have been 1,872 cases and 10 deaths – a 0.5% death rate.

And if you’re looking for another reason you’ll be safe there, Iceland has been the most peaceful country in the world since 2008, according to the Global Peace Index.

What you’ll need to do

  • Book a test in advance for 9,000 króna (£52), or self-isolate for 14 days instead (if you were born in 2005 or later, you’re exempt from both)
  • If you test positive, you’ll be obliged to self-isolate for 14 days in your hotel or government-provided accommodation, unless you test negative within that time
  • Sign up for contract tracing app Rakning C-19 when you arrive. It’s not compulsory, but you should do it anyway

Iceland is stunning, and has an excellent healthcare system

Singapore

CasesDeathsDeath rate
52,205270.05%

Singapore has the third-highest population density in the world, putting its 5.7 million people at huge risk of suffering massive casualties from a viral pandemic like COVID-19.

The fact that the city-state has done so well at limiting deaths – with only 27 fatalities having been recorded so far – is phenomenal.

Singapore has seen more than 49,000 cases of COVID-19 – a higher number per million than countries like the UK, Italy, and Mexico, which have all suffered terrible losses.

The clearest sign of Singapore’s success has been its 0.06% death rate.

When the country got its first case on January 23rd, its authorities leapt into action. The disease didn’t even have a name yet.

As well as health checks at airports and testing anyone suspected of having the virus, Singapore also found any people who’d been in contact with a confirmed case and quarantined them until they tested negative.

When cases surged in April, the government instituted a lockdown.

If residents went outside for anything apart from essential activities or exercise, they could be fined up to S$10,000 (£5,700) – or sentenced to six months in prison.

With only one death in the past two weeks, you can move to Singapore with peace of mind.

What you’ll need to do

  • If you have a long-term pass, or in-principle approval for one, you must email Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority – at ICA_nCoV_request@ica.gov.sg – to ask for permission to still move
  • When you arrive, you’ll have to spend a 14-day period at a government-designated hotel, which will now cost you around S$2,000 (£1,140) – unless you’re a citizen or a permanent resident, in which case the government will pay for your stay
  • Follow the rules once you’re there, including wearing a facemask when outside, recording any times you go inside a shop, allowing only five people in your home, and not speaking on public transport

South Korea

CasesDeathsDeath rate
14,3053012.1%

With a population of 52 million people, South Korea is a similar size to the UK – and what’s more, it’s in close proximity to China.

It’s remarkable, then, that the country has only suffered 301 deaths, compared to the UK’s more than 45,000.

South Korea has managed this by implementing a massive testing project, with drive-through clinics set up for this purpose.

The state isolated and treated infected people, and tracked down those who’d been in contact with them for testing.

As a result, the death count has never spiralled, and even cases have stayed relatively low, at around 14,000. The curve hasn’t been flattened as much as obliterated.

There have been 12 deaths in the past two weeks, so as long as you keep to the country’s appropriately rigorous guidelines, you should be as safe as it’s possible to be in this world.

What you’ll need to do

  • Don’t visit China’s Hubei province for 14 days before you travel to South Korea, or you’ll be refused entry
  • Bring a face mask, as shortages have occurred
  • Prepare yourself to be tested on arrival, before being quarantined
  • Bring enough to pay for your stay in the quarantine facility, which costs 100,000 won (£65) per day – if you test positive, you’ll be treated for free
Gyeongbokgung palace in spring, South Korea

This extraordinarily beautiful view could soon be your view

Norway

CasesDeathsDeath rate
9,2082552.8%

Norway announced a lockdown on March 12th, two weeks after the country’s first case, and on the same day as its first COVID-19 death.

The borders were also closed, and a plan to test 300,000 people per week was drawn up.  This was soon dropped, however, with officials deeming it unnecessary.

In the two months since that decision was taken, the country has had a relatively low number of cases, at 700, and suffered just 20 deaths.

On April 6thless than four weeks after the lockdown began – health minister Bent Hoie announced Norway had “brought the coronavirus infection under control”, with a reproductive rate (R rate) of 0.7. 

Thanks to what Prime Minister Erna Solberg called “the strongest and most intrusive measures” implemented in peacetime, Norway endured a short, low peak.

Cases also tailed off to a larger extent than all of their European counterparts – excluding Iceland, of course.

This has been great news for everyone, apart from funeral homes.

The UK is currently one of the European countries with a low enough transmission rate to be exempted from quarantine, but keep checking these government guidelines in case that changes.

What you’ll need to do

  • Nothing in advance as it stands, but check your destination’s local authority website for your area’s guidelines
  • Once you’re there, keep a distance of one metre between yourself and people outside your close circle of contacts

Austria

CasesDeathsDeath rate
21,1307183.4%

The first Austrian case of COVID-19 was recorded in the state of Tyrol, on February 25th. 

Just 16 days later, authorities put the entire state under lockdown, and three days after that, the government implemented a nationwide lockdown, with people only allowed outside for work, groceries, exercise, or to assist others.

All universities were closed, public gatherings of more than five people were banned, and on March 30th, face masks were made compulsory in shops.

Authorities carried out random testing on 1,544 people in affected regions to calculate the virus’s prevalence, and over the second half of April, the lockdown was gradually eased.

In mid-June, Austria lifted travel restrictions. The number of new cases has gradually crept up since then, and on July 23rd, Austria recorded 359 cases – the most since April 4th. 

However, the very next day, this number was down to 110. 

There are no guarantees, so if you’re considering moving to Austria, keep an eye on the numbers and the government’s response.

Just eight of Austria’s 718 deaths from the virus have come in the past two weeks, and the country has done extremely well at reducing the virus’s spread before now, with 96.2% of concluded cases ending in recovery. Hopefully, this will continue.

Beautiful Hallstatt village in Alps at sunset, Austria

Austria is one of several European countries to deal well with COVID-19

What you’ll need to do

  • At the border, you must hand over a medical certificate that’s no more than four days old, with the results of a microbiological test (it can be written in English)
  • Otherwise, you’ll have to prove that you have somewhere to quarantine yourself for 14 days
  • If you test negative for COVID-19 in this period, you can exit quarantine – and Vienna Airport will test you for the virus for €190 (£173), as long as you book in advance

Quick note: you don’t need to undergo quarantine or bring a medical certificate if you’re from a list of 31 European countries… that doesn’t include the UK. It is on a different list, however – of 32 countries on which Austria has placed a travel warning.

Denmark

CasesDeathsDeath rate
13,9646154.4%

Just like other European countries on this list, Denmark announced a lockdown in the first half of March.

Hospitals created drive-through clinics like South Korea had, those with mild or no symptoms were kept home with daily visits from medical professionals, and anyone who’d been in contact with an infected person was also placed under home quarantine.

It became illegal for more than 10 people to gather in public, and all shopping centres, hairdressers, and nightclubs were closed, with 1,500 krone (£183) fines for anyone who broke the new rules.

After initially resisting it, the authorities began mass testing in late March, setting up testing centres in towns and cities all over the country.

And on April 15th – unlike other European nations – the Scandinavian country became the first outside Asia to relax its lockdown.

Schools, daycare centres, and hairdressers were reopened, followed by restaurants, cafes, and shopping centres in May.

Despite the short, 33-day nature of its lockdown, there has been no substantial uptick in the number of cases and deaths in the three months since then, with just two deaths in the past two weeks.

The UK is currently on the list of countries you can travel from to Denmark, though keep checking the official guide – it updates weekly, on Thursdays.

What you’ll need to do

  • Nothing, as it stands. Follow your region’s rules, and keep checking your local authority’s website for updates

Germany

CasesDeathsDeath rate
209,7369,1474.4%

The UK has suffered 45% more cases than Germany, and 500% more deaths, despite being an island, hundreds of miles further from the origin of the virus, with 16 million more people.

Speaking to the World Economic Forum, German health minister Jens Spahn explained that his country “took the COVID-19 threat seriously from the beginning.

“Accordingly, the country’s ICU capacity was increased by 12,000 beds to 40,000 very quickly.”

Germany created one of the first rapid COVID-19 tests, and has expanded its testing capacity beyond expectations.

Spahn said: “We are able to perform up to one million diagnostic tests per day, and will soon have the capacity to perform around five million antibody tests per month.”

He explained that “when it comes to a disease outbreak, you can’t control what you can’t see.”

While the country has suffered more than 9,000 fatalities, its death toll per million is still below any European country to the west of Germany, despite having to face the virus before many of them.

Germany’s actions helped to flatten the peak, which never went above 75 new daily cases per million. In contrast, Switzerland – the 9th safest country – peaked at 161.

Germany’s success at restricting the virus was seen by its ability to reopen its top professional football league, the Bundesliga, on May 16th, just two months after initiating measures to limit public movement.

Since the beginning of May, the number of cases has stayed low – under 15 cases per million. For comparison, the UK went above that level on July 15th.

What you’ll need to do

  • Nothing, at the moment
  • Germany’s COVID-19 rules are different in each of the 16 states, so make sure to check what the authorities are currently advising (or ordering) where you’re going
Beautiful streets in Rothenburg ob der Tauber with traditional German houses, Bavaria, Germany

The delights of Germany are open to you, without any pre-conditions

Switzerland

CasesDeathsDeath rate
35,2321,9805.6%

Switzerland suffered from COVID-19 at first, but took actions which quickly reduced its infection rate.

On March 16th, the country closed schools and most shops, and four days later, the government banned all public gatherings of more than five people.

Switzerland’s peak of daily cases per million was higher than any other country on this list, but in the space of just three weeks from late March to mid-April, it brought its numbers down to the level of the other best-performing nations.

This allowed the country to start easing restrictive measures on April 27th, and in the past two weeks, there have been just five deaths.

What you’ll need to do

  • Nothing, as it stands. Keep checking whether the UK is placed on the government’s mandatory quarantine list, but we’re not on it currently
  • Comply with rules once you’re there, including staying 1.5 metres away from other people and wearing a mask on public transport
  • Your canton may have more restrictive rules, so check its government website

Summary

It’s harder than usual to move abroad – but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

You just need to take extra precautions. You don’t want to go somewhere that hasn’t experienced COVID-19 yet; you want to move somewhere that has been through the virus and come out the other side with its head held high.

Also be sure to check government websites frequently, to make sure you’re still allowed into the country you’re planning on moving to.

But remember: the pandemic won’t last forever. Soon, you’ll be able to enjoy everything your new home has to offer.

If you’re ready to start a new life in a different country, just fill in this form and our suppliers will give you a quote for shipping your possessions there.