For most of us in the UK, this year has been a long old slog so far. But finally infection rates are plummeting, the economy is opening up and the vaccine rollout is continuing apace – all of which is making people look ahead to autumn, and specifically whether they’ll be able to go on holiday abroad.
Well, the good news is that non-essential travel from the UK is no longer banned. The UK has dramatically loosened its border restrictions and will now allow in travellers from ‘green list’ destinations – without requiring any form of quarantine.
Since the UK moved on to the last stage of its reopening plan, the total ban on foreign holidays has been lifted, meaning UK residents can leave the country for the first time in months. Meanwhile, there are also new rules on which travellers will be allowed into the UK – whether they’re visitors from abroad or British residents returning from a holiday. Here’s what you need to know.
How do the new red and green lists work?
There are now only two lists – not the three ‘green’, ‘amber’ and ‘red’ categories. The UK ‘red list’ lays out the countries from which travel is absolutely forbidden, except for returning British and Irish citizens plus official UK residents.
Those arriving from destinations on the ‘green list’ (or ‘rest of world’ list), meanwhile, now no longer have to take a test before travelling back to England – as long as they’re fully vaccinated. Currently, you still have to take a PCR test two days after arrival, but these will be replaced by cheaper lateral flow tests later in October.
If you’re not double-jabbed, you still need to take a pre-departure test, alongside PCR tests on days two and eight after arrival. Travellers also have to self-isolate for ten days upon entry to the UK, although a ‘test to release’ scheme is still in place for travellers willing to pay for another test to leave quarantine on day five.
Those coming from ‘red’ countries still have to quarantine in a government-mandated hotel at a cost of £2,285 per head.
Which countries are on the UK green list?
The following countries and destinations currently appear on the ‘green list’ for England:
Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Antarctica/British Antarctic Territory
Antigua and Barbuda
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
Bosnia and Herzegovina
British Indian Ocean Territory
Central African Republic
Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue
Czech Republic (Czechia)
Greece (including islands)
Israel and Jerusalem
Papua New Guinea
Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
Sao Tome and Principe
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
St Kitts and Nevis
St Martin and St Barthélemy
St Pierre and Miquelon
St Vincent and the Grenadines
The Occupied Palestinian Territories
Turks and Caicos Islands
Wallis and Futuna
On May 11, it was confirmed that the initial ‘green list’ for Scotland would be identical to England’s. Northern Ireland has said that it will also allow quarantine-free travel from the same countries. Wales has 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.
Bear in mind that not all the countries on the ‘green list’ will be willing to allow visitors from the UK, especially those who haven’t been vaccinated yet.
And if your dream destination still isn’t on the list even after the next update? Have patience: it may not be long before it turns ‘green’ too. Keep your fingers crossed – that long-awaited holiday or family reunion could be on the cards very soon.
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.