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Visits and Exchanges

General advice for travelling overseas and for preparing for exchange visits can be found from the following sources.

Foreign Office Travel Advice
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) produce travel advice bulletins relating to political risks and health requirements for individual countries. It is advisable to check the travel advice each time travel is planned.

Foreign Embassies and High Commissions
Most countries are represented in the UK by Foreign Embassies and High Commissions (for Commonwealth countries). They are useful contacts for specific information on the country in question and also provide the necessary visas for entry into the country.

UK Representation Overseas
UK Embassies and High Commissions are often interested in local authority or community links and may appreciate receiving information about any visits. Click here to locate UK representation overseas.

Department for International Development
The Department for International Development (DfID) produces country strategy papers for the developing countries in which they run programmes, setting out the DfID priorities for the country. These are particularly useful for local authorities engaging in technical project work.

Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) produces informative country guides for businesses that are hoping to trade or invest overseas. To find out if there is a guide available for the country that you are linked with contact the BERR enquiry point and ask to speak to the country desk.

National Tourism Offices
Many countries have national tourism offices, usually based in London, who will, on request, be able to provide general information about the country or even the specific area to be visited.

Medical Advice
It is recommended that medical advice is sought from your GP in advance of travelling. If GPs do not administer the specific vaccinations needed it may be necessary to visit a Travel Clinic for help and advice.

Insurance
Insurance cover should be obtained in all cases and for all activities.

Local authorities should inform their legal and/or insurance sections of all international link and twinning activities both at home and overseas, to ensure that adequate cover exists to include travelling, all activities and events and public liability insurance. This applies to all categories of personnel - officers, elected members and school children.

Twinning associations should also seek professional advice about all forms of insurance cover. Additional insurance cover is often required for countries where the FCO has issued travel warnings (see above).

Health and safety
Local authorities may also wish to consult with Health and Safety Officers on various aspects of local activities and events.

When children and young people are involved in transnational and twinning activities, there should be an agreed policy, and advice should always be taken from the appropriate bodies.

This is the tenth of a series of articles about twinning published by the Local Government Association (LGA) on their website. The original can be found here Copyright in this article belongs to the Euoropean and International Division of the Local Government Association who have very kindly given us permission to use it, for which we thank them.