Update: 17 September 2021

From Monday 4 October, a simplified system for international travel and relaxed measures for fully vaccinated travellers and children will make it easier to go on an overseas holiday. Read more on our webpage: What you need to know about foreign travel from October.

 

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:

  • The traffic light system, which sets out what you need to do when returning to the UK.
  • The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice for the destination you are planning to visit.

 

The traffic light system

There is a traffic light system in place in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for international travel, which places foreign countries on a green, amber or red list. There is also a ‘green watchlist’ to identify which countries are more likely to move from the green list to the amber list, but for which green list rules apply.

There are different testing and quarantine requirements on your return to the UK depending on which list the country you have visited is on and whether or not you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. For entry into the UK, ‘fully vaccinated’ means it’s been at least 14 days since you’ve had either two doses of an approved two dose vaccine (such as Pfizer or AstraZeneca) or one dose of an approved single dose vaccine (such as Janssen) and you need to have received your full course in the UK, Europe or the US. 

You’ll need to check which list your travel destination is on and which requirements apply to you before you go away so you know what you need to do for your journey back. The Government is reviewing the traffic light lists every three weeks, so if your destination is currently on the amber or red list, it may change to the green list at the time of your departure.

  • Green – You will need to take a COVID-19 test (antigen test, LAMP test or PCR test) in the three days before returning to the UK and a PCR test on or before day two of your return. You won’t need to quarantine or take any additional tests unless you get a positive test result.
     
  • Amber (travellers who have been fully-vaccinated) – You will need to take a COVID-19 test (antigen test, LAMP test or PCR test) in the three days before returning to the UK and a PCR test on or before day two of your return. You won’t need to quarantine or take any additional tests unless you get a positive test result.
     
  • Amber (travellers who haven’t been fully-vaccinated) – You will need to take a COVID-19 test (antigen test, LAMP test or PCR test) in the three days before returning to the UK, a PCR test on or before day two of your return and another PCR test on day eight of your return. You’ll also need to quarantine at home for 10 days on your return. If you’re returning to England, you’ll have the option of a “test to release” on day five to end self-isolation early.
     
  • Red – You will need to stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 days on your return, as well as take a COVID-19 test (antigen test, LAMP test or PCR test) in the three days before returning to the UK and a further PCR test on day two and day eight of your return.

Regardless of which list the country you are returning from is on, you will need to complete a Passenger Locator Form before you return to the UK. Read more about how to get a test for your holiday on our blog: Which COVID-19 tests do I need for my holiday and how do I get one?

Full details of the traffic light system - including which countries are currently listed 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 traffic light system, 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, if proof of vaccination will be accepted for entry and how you can show your vaccination status, if there will be any health checks on arrival and what public health measures are 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.