How does the new foreign travel traffic light system work?

How does the new foreign travel traffic light system work?

If you’re desperate to get away for your summer holiday abroad this year, understanding the new foreign travel traffic light system is going to be essential. So, before you go ahead and book your summer escape, here’s what you need to know about how covid-19 rates could affect you coming into the country.

UPDATE: 04/10/21

From the 4th October 2021, the foreign travel traffic light system will be scrapped and there will only be red list countries and non-red list countries. Fully vaccinated UK residents and under 18 travellers will no longer need to take a PCR test to re-enter the UK. Instead, they will only need to take a day 2 test and complete a passenger locator form.

Adults who are not fully vaccinated will need to take a pre-departure test to re-enter the UK, take a day 2 and day 8 PCR test and will have to quarantine at home for 10 days.

The rules for entering the UK from a red list country (outlined below) remain the same for both fully and not fully vaccinated residents.

What is the new foreign travel traffic light system?

The proposed foreign travel traffic light system will essentially be used to indicate whether we can safely travel to other countries based on their covid-19 rates or variants. With countries split into green, amber and red, there will be different requirements for passengers based on how the country they’re travelling from is categorised.

Remember though – this traffic light system only lays out what is required for travellers coming into the UK. Don’t forget to check what the policy is of the country you’re going to well before you’re due to depart.

How the UK arrivals traffic light system works

For passengers coming into the UK, these are the requirements for the three bands: green, amber and red.

Green countries

These are the lowest risk countries. This means you’ll encounter the least number of restrictions when coming into the UK from countries coded green.

Green country traveller requirements:

  • Passenger locator form
  • Pre-departure test
  • PCR test on or before day two of arrival back in UK

Amber countries

Amber countries are considered medium risk. If returning from an amber country, you’ll need to self-isolate at home upon your return to the UK.

Amber country traveller requirements:

  • Passenger locator form
  • Pre-departure test
  • 10 days self-isolation at home
  • PCR test on or before day two of arrival back in England and Wales
  • Option to pay for a test to release on day five
  • PCR test on day eight

UPDATE: 10.08.2021

Fully vaccinated passengers arriving in England now no longer have to isolate if returning from Amber list countries. You will still need to take a PCR test on or before day two of arrival. 

Red countries

Red countries are considered high risk. If you’re entering the UK from a red country, you’ll need to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days on arrival. This will cost travellers £1,750 per person and you will need to book your quarantine package before departing for the UK.

  • Passenger locator form
  • Pre-departure test
  • 10 days managed hotel quarantine
  • PCR test on or before day two of arrival back in England and Wales
  • PCR test on day eight

When can I travel outside of the UK?

Currently foreign holidays are banned under the existing lockdown measures, however there will be a review of the foreign travel policy on the 17th May and another review on the 21st June.

UPDATE: 17.05.2021

Foreign holidays are no longer illegal for UK residents from the 17th May 2021 and the foreign travel traffic light system is in place. 

When will the country categorisation be released?

There is currently a list of countries categorised red. This means that if you have travelled through one of these countries in the 10 days before arriving in the UK, you will be refused entry. If you are British or Irish national, or you have UK residence rights, you can enter but will need to quarantine in a government approved hotel for 10 days.

You can check the current red listed countries here.

There isn’t currently a set date for the green and amber countries to be released, however it is likely to coincide with the foreign travel review. Just remember that countries can move between categories. This means you’ll need to regularly check the travel requirements of travelling to and from your destination in the weeks before you’re due to leave.

UPDATE: 17.05.2021

You can now view the full list of green, amber and red countries here

Top tips for booking a holiday abroad in 2021

If you’re booking your holiday abroad this year, there are a few things you can do to make sure things run smoothly.

  • Wait until country traffic light lists are released before booking
  • Booking an ATOL protected package holiday will make it easier to recoup your costs if your holiday is cancelled
  • Check the cancellation and refund policies of the companies you want to book with
  • You may want to consider using a local travel agent to help you if things change and you need to rearrange your travel details
  • Check the details of your travel insurance to make sure you know what’s covered
  • Pay with a credit card as you’ll usually get more financial protection

With the first UK travel review scheduled for 17th May, we’ll be keeping a close eye on where we can travel to first when things open up.

Want to spread the cost of your next getaway? Check your holiday loan and credit card options now and get a quick online decision.

Date published: 26/04/2021

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