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What are the latest UK travel restrictions? Here’s everything you need to know

Pre-departure tests are now required for all arrivals to the UK and the ‘red list’ has been expanded again

Huw Oliver
Sophie Dickinson
Written by
Huw Oliver
Sophie Dickinson

For a good chunk of 2021, Brits were totally forbidden from holidaying abroad. But as the UK continues to reopen, the country has finally lifted its blanket ban on foreign leisure trips. This means that, for Brits, that long-awaited holiday in the sun – or family reunion – might actually be a reality. And for the rest of the world, travel to the UK is back on.

Gone are the ‘green’, ‘amber’ and ‘red’ categories. Now, there are just two lists – and if you’re fully vaccinated, there are even fewer restrictions. Dreaming of packing your suitcase already? Popular destinations like Turkey and Maldives have been added to the ‘OK to travel’ list, meaning you can go ahead and book that trip of a lifetime. 

What are the latest UK travel restrictions?

The ‘red list
The ‘red list’ is still in place. It lays out the countries from which travel is completely banned, except for returning British and Irish citizens plus official UK residents. All those who are allowed in will have to stump up £2,285 per head to self-isolate in a government-mandated hotel for ten days.

The ‘amber list
The ‘amber list has been scrapped. Travel to countries on this list was possible with PCR testing. There’s now only the red and ‘OK to travel’ list, which is a merger of the ‘amber’ and ‘green’ lists.

The ‘OK to travel’ list, or ‘green list’
The new, two-tier set of rules will create a simpler, more straightforward system’ according to the UK government. All countries that aren’t on the ‘red’ list are now considered ‘OK to travel’.

What are the rules for fully-vaccinated travellers?

From December 7, everyone visiting the UK – regardless of vaccination status – will have to take either a lateral flow or PCR test before entering. The rules apply to anyone over the age of 12 and the pre-departure test must be taken a maximum of 48 hours before leaving. Previously, these tests were only required if travellers were unvaccinated.

As of last week, all travellers must take a PCR test on arrival to the UK, too, and isolate until they get a negative result. The tests must be booked in advance from a government-approved provider.

All arrivals must also fill out a ‘passenger locator form’.

Which countries are on the UK’s ‘OK to travel’ green list?

For the moment, England’s ‘OK to travel’ list covers the vast majority of the world’s countries, including popular destinations like Spain, Italy and the USA.

Previous travel updates for Scotland and Northern Ireland have been identical to England’s. Wales had introduced a similar traffic light system, though first minister Mark Drakeford has advised Welsh citizens only to travel abroad for ‘essential’ reasons for the rest of the year.

Here is the current ‘red list’ in full:

South Africa

Here’s everything you need to know about travel from the UK to Europe after Brexit.

And if you’re worried about taking the plunge? Here’s how to book an overseas holiday this year – without losing your money.

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