What are the rules for travelling to green, amber and red list countries?on June 25, 2021 at 3:20 pm


The government is considering allowing double vaccinated adults to avoid quarantine after travel.

Tourists walk holding inflatable mattress at Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca on June 7, 2021.

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Malta, Madeira and the Balearic Islands are among the holiday destinations to be added to the government’s green list for travel.

Travellers will no longer have to self-isolate on their return to the UK from these places.

But you should check entry rules for each country. Malta, for example, is to require tourists to show proof of being fully-vaccinated – to avoid two-weeks’ quarantine upon arrival.

From 04:00 on Wednesday 30 June, a number of countries and territories will be added to the government’s green list.

Malta, Madeira, and the Balearic Islands are joined by a number of UK overseas territories. These include Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and Montserrat, and Caribbean Islands including Antigua, Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados and Grenada.

However all these additions – apart from Malta – will be on the “green watchlist”, which means that they are at risk of being moved to the amber list. Israel has also been moved to the green watchlist.

The government says that people should “take extra consideration” when booking holidays in any of these destinations.

It also says “if there is a sudden change in conditions, a country or territory may be moved between lists without warning”.

Six nations have been added to the “red list” – with strict rules on limiting travel to and from the UK. These are the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Haiti, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda.

The government had expressed hopes to scrap quarantine for people travelling back from amber list countries, who have had both Covid jabs.

Announcing the latest changes, the Department for Transport said this would happen “later in the summer”, with further announcements next month.

All countries go onto the amber list unless there is specific evidence to suggest they should be on the green or red lists.

Most popular tourist destinations are on the amber list – the government currently advises that people should not holiday in these countries.

Graph showing Covid case rates in selected countries

The decision is taken by ministers, and informed by their advisers, the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), which looks at the Covid situation in each country.

The lists are reviewed every three weeks. The rules are broadly the same for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Green list banner (v2)

If you’re returning from a green list country, you must:

You do not need to quarantine unless your day-two test is positive, or NHS Test & Trace says you have travelled with someone who tested positive.

Amber list banner

The vast majority of countries are on the amber list.

The government advises people not to travel to amber destinations, although the holiday industry has accused it of sending out mixed signals.

If returning from an amber list country, you must:

It may be possible to end quarantine early in England if you pay for an additional test under the test-to-release scheme.

Red list banner

Red list countries are those the UK government says are at the highest risk from Covid, and should not be visited “except in the most extreme of circumstances”.

Dozens of countries are on the red list, including India, Pakistan, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa.

If you have been in one in the last 10 days, you can only enter the UK if you are a UK or Irish national, or UK resident.

If you’re returning from a red list country, you must:

Rates are:

  • 10 days (11-nights) for one adult – £1,750
  • Additional adult (or child over 11) – £650
  • Children aged five to 11 – £325

Before returning to the UK you will need to pay for a private test with high accuracy, such as a PCR or antigen test. Further tests are also required after you return.

In the UK tests can be bought from government approved providers. You can also access lists of providers in some destinations through UK government travel pages.

Failure to provide proof of a negative test before travelling to England could result in a £500 fine.

A limited number of direct flights from red list countries are operating, as part of a trial at Heathrow and Birmingham airports.

The airports have “dedicated facilities” to keep red list passengers separate from other arrivals, and then transfer them to quarantine accommodation.

Graphic showing how the traffic light system for arrivals will work

Anyone planning to visit an amber or red list country should check their proposed destination on the FCO country advice pages.

If the FCO advises against travel, insurance would almost certainly be invalid.

If not, the cost of medical treatment abroad would be covered, usually including Covid.

But few policies, including those for green list countries, will cover your costs if you contract Covid and can’t fly home.

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