Updated 22 May 2021

If you are looking to go on a holiday abroad, visit family or friends overseas or go on a foreign business trip, there are two things you need to check and follow:

  • Government requirements around international travel for travellers from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
  • The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice for the destination you are planning to visit.

Government requirements for international travel

There is a traffic light system in place in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for international travel, which categorises countries as green, amber or red. There are different requirements on your return to the UK depending on which country category you have visited, including arranging and paying for a series of tests from Government-approved private testing providers. You’ll need to check which category your travel destination is in before you go away so you know what you need to do for your journey back.

  • Green – Travellers will need to take a COVID-19 test (antigen test or PCR) before returning to the UK and another PCR test on or before day two of their return. No quarantine or additional tests will be needed unless a positive result comes back.
  • Amber – Travellers will need to quarantine at home for 10 days on their return, as well as take a COVID-19 test (antigen test or PCR) before returning to the UK and a further PCR test on day two and day eight after returning. If returning to England they will also have the option of a “test to release” on day five to end self-isolation early.
  • Red – Travellers will need to stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 days on their return, as well as take a COVID-19 test (antigen test or PCR) before returning to the UK and a further PCR test on day two and day eight of their return.

Regardless of the country category, all travellers will need to complete a Passenger Locator Form before they return to the UK.

Full details of the traffic light system - including which countries are currently categorised as green, amber, or red, and information on which private test providers can be used - can be found on the Government websites for the UK nation you are returning to: gov.uk (England), gov.scot (Scotland), gov.wales (Wales) and nidirect.gov.uk (Northern Ireland). Requirements may vary between nations, so check the details on the page that is most appropriate to you. 

You will also need to check the FCDO travel advice for the country you’d like to visit to see if there are any entry restrictions in place, which we explain in more detail below. 

Checking the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Travel Advice 

In addition to reviewing the government rules for international travel, you will also need to check the Government’s latest advice for the country, or countries, you would like to visit at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice before you go away. 

This advice is provided by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and includes important information about the country you’ll be travelling to, such as:

  • Details of any entry requirements, including if the country you’d like to visit is currently allowing UK travellers to enter.
  • Specific requirements relating to Coronavirus, such as if you need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test certificate on arrival, any health checks on arrival and public health measures in place at your destination.
  • Advice on health, including the latest country-specific health advice from NaTHNaC on the TravelHealthPro website.
  • Advice on safety and security, such as how to keep your valuables safe while in destination.
  • Information about local laws and customs, such as advice on what to wear when visiting a religious tourist attraction.

You’ll need to check this information regularly before your trip and it’s a good idea to sign up to country specific email alerts so you’re kept up to speed with any important updates.

You can also read guidance from the Government about travelling overseas during the pandemic at their Coronavirus travel guidance page and find more information about staying safe abroad at the FCDO’s Travel Aware page.

If you have any further questions about travelling abroad during the pandemic, or how to prepare for a forthcoming trip, please visit our webpage: Get ready for travel: your essential guide or speak with your ABTA Member travel provider.