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Issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 24 August 1999

British nationals contemplating travel overseas, or who will be resident overseas, in the period late 1999 to early 2000, should be aware of possible difficulties which may arise from the Millennium Bug problem (also known as the Year 2000 or Y2K problem).

Some computer systems, and other equipment controlled by micro-processors, may fail if they are unable to process correctly information involving dates from 1 January 2000. This could lead to disruption in a wide range of essential services, although it is difficult to predict where they might occur or their likely impact or duration.

Governments, businesses, national and international organisations continue to research the problem and are taking steps to minimise its likely impact. The travel industry in the UK are assessing the possible impact of the Millennium Bug on their operations here and overseas and are drawing up business continuity plans for the date-change period. British nationals should however be aware of the potential for possible disruptions to their travel plans from interruptions in services including:

  • transport;
  • telecommunications;
  • financial services (including cashpoints, electronic transfers);
  • medical services;
  • power supplies;
  • water and sanitation services;
  • distribution of food and other goods.
British nationals travelling over the New Year period should anticipate possible delays in flights overseas and allow plenty of time for any connecting flights. Essential possessions such as passports, medications, eyeglasses, emergency telephone numbers and contacts for your place of destination and back home, etc. should be kept in carry-on luggage. The international air transport industry are seeking to ensure that they can provide a business as usual service over the New Year period. The Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions (DETR) will be issuing information on their progress from early October.

British nationals are advised to consult their insurance companies to check whether policies cover Millennium Bug-related risks. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have produced an information sheet, Travelling Safely into the 21st Century, which is available free from the ABI, 51 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7HQ (tel: 0171 600 3333). It can also be found on the ABI's website,

Travellers should also consult travel agents and airlines for information on how the potential problems for travel, hotels, food etc. are being addressed at their planned destination. It will, of course, be for individuals to take their own decisions.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is taking steps to ensure that its own internal systems, including at British Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates overseas, are Millennium compliant. This will be largely done through our major IT and communications replacement programme. British Diplomatic and Consular Posts are preparing to provide the usual range of assistance and protection over the New Year period. However, local disruptions to essential services may temporarily affect the level of service that our overseas Posts can provide.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is gathering information on the Y2K situation in foreign countries. This will be reflected in our country specific travel advice notices as and when they are issued.

A summary of information which is already publicly available from other countries' official Year 2000 web pages is on Action 2000's website,

Information may also be found on a number of other websites:

Business related advice is available in the Trade Section of the FCO website - - and from Action 2000 -, tel: 0845 601 2000).