26 May 2021 by Christina Sharp
Last Updated 20th Sept 2021
It’s time to dip your toes in the water. The ban on overseas leisure travel in England was lifted on 17 May 2021 and as time passes there are more locations where you can go on holiday without quarantine. The travel corridor update for UK travellers remains linked to the traffic light system unveiled by the UK Government earlier this year which grades countries on their COVID risk from green, amber to red. The good news for people travelling to and from England is that from 4th October 2021, simplified travel rules will apply, which we will explain here. EU countries have their own rules, so its important to check where you are travelling from and to (including stop-overs). For example Spain this summer opened its borders for travellers from the UK, EU and some non EU locations.
So which countries are deemed safe places to travel? It’s important that you check the FCDO website directly or your Government equivalent to ensure you are relying on current and accurate information. You can check the latest categorisation of countries on the FCDO website here.
This is especially important as the list of countries in each category changes depending on a variety of risk factors and this may happen with little or no notice. Travellers to low-risk green countries still have to take a COVID test before leaving and on returning, but you don’t need to quarantine on return. The good news for travel enthusists is that the rules are soon changing for England and a simplified system for international travel applies from 4th October 2021.
The new simplified travel rules mean that from 4am on 4th October the current traffic light system will be replaced by one single red list. This will reduce red tape for travellers to and from the current amber list countries. Rules for arriveals to England will be easier from this date and testing requirements will reduce fully vaccinated travellers. England will also allow entry to fully vaccinated travellers from 17 new countries who will be treated the same as returning fully vaccinated UK travellers.
More good news for travellers is that from the end of October, fully vaccinated UK travellers and those with an approved vaccine (from countries not on red list) do not need a day 2 test after travel. Instead they can take a free lateral flow test. Travellers testing positive must still isolate and take a PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller.
However, until 4th October England's red, amber and green traffic light system remains in force, where different rules apply for different countries when travelling into England
Entry to the UK is currently prohibited for non-residents departing from countries on the red list. This rule does not apply to citizens and those with residency rights. If you have been in or through a country on the red list in the previous 10 days, you will be refused entry to the UK.
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The system (until 4th October 2021) grades every country based on the level of infections and vaccinations as well as other key indicators: For UK travellers:
British citizens and anyone coming from a Red List country must comply with a 10-day mandatory quarantine in managed quarantine hotel upon arrival.
Travellers arriving from an Amber List country (if arriving before 4am on 4th October 2021) must:
Travellers must provide the address and details of the place they will quarantine on their passenger locator form. You could face a fine of £5,000 if you break quarantine rules. You may be able to end quarantine early if you pay for a private COVID-19 test through the Government Test to Release scheme.
These are quarantine free countries. On arrival in England before you must take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 after you arrive, but you do not need to quarantine, or take a pre-departure test, or day 8 test unless any test result is positive.
According to the FCDO, If you have been in or through a country on the red list in the 10 days before you arrive in England, you must follow the red list rules. In fact you still have to follow red list rules if you came through a red list country on your way back from an amber list country. So the rules are, you must follow the rules of the country on the highest risk category if you have travelled through, or visited a location in that category in the 10 days before you arrive in England – even if you also travelled from a green list country.
After 4th October 2021 the new rules announced by the UK Government on 17th Sept 2021 will apply and the single red list for travel will be in place. Wherever you are thinking of going, your best bet is to check your governement travel rules, for UK residents this is the FCDO's travel advice to ensure you stay safe and travel aware.
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