As you may well be aware, the UK government has issued the ‘Traffic Light System’. This determines travel rules for different countries based on their Covid ‘risk’. But what does it mean if a country is green, amber, or red, and what are the rules for travellers? In this short article, I will try to shed some light on a grey subject, and help you get set up ready for travel. I will highlight the requirements for travel as well as the covid test requirements needed to be able to get away.
These country categories are decided and set depending on recent covid-19 cases per country. A low rate per 100,000 + a high vaccination rate all contribute to which ‘Traffic Light’ category a country may fall into.
Green Countries And Requirements
‘Green’ countries on the traffic light system are ones deemed to be safest to travel to. These are open to travel for anyone regardless of vaccination status but do require some actions to be able to travel. Going away on holiday does mean Covid testing. However, no one needs to quarantine on returning from a green country. You may, however, need to take tests before arriving at your destination. It is important that you check the requirements of the country you are visiting, as these can and do differ from country to country.
72 hours before your return to the UK, a PCR or lateral flow test must be taken and return a negative result before you are able to board your return flight. This CANNOT be a free NHS test and must be arranged locally or before going on holiday. There are companies that will allow you to take their test away with you, and a video call test can be arranged while in the resort.
‘Day 2’ Testing
For green and amber list countries a further PCR test is needed after arrival in the UK, which must be booked before you leave. This is your ‘Day 2’ test and can be taken anytime up until the second day back in the UK. This is to avoid a potential £500 fine on return to the UK if you arrive without a negative test and the booking reference is required when you fill out your UK passenger locator form. More on this later.
Most private providers charge above £45 for PCR tests and £30 for lateral flow devices. Some travel companies do offer discount codes which are worth looking out for.
The UK passenger locator form is required to board your return flight. You will be asked for your confirmation of this on check-in. This is where you must put a valid booking reference number for your ‘Day 2’ test, otherwise, you cannot board your flight.
Amber Countries And Requirements
Now the ‘amber’ listed countries are a little more complicated. There are different requirements and rules depending on your vaccination status.
Fully vaccinated adults from the UK, US, and the majority of Europe are not required to quarantine or self-isolate on entry to the UK.
The same process applies for covid tests 72 hours prior to your flight to the UK as green countries above. As well as the pre-booked ‘Day 2’ test.
Under-18s do not have to self-isolate. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, children aged 10 and under don’t have to test before travel but do need to take a test two days after arrival. Those aged four and under don’t need any tests.
How do you prove you are fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to departure? One proven and trialled way is to use the NHS app. There is a section specifically for travel where your vaccination status can be checked quickly, easily, and conveniently.
Travelling to an amber-category country without being fully vaccinated is possible, but self-isolation is required on return to the UK for 10 days. This can, however, be reduced to 5 days by using the ‘test to release’ process, but this does come at a cost.
In addition to the ‘day 2’ test on return, non-vaccinated travellers are required to take a ‘day 8’ test.
Under 18’s do not have to self-isolate and under 10’s do not need to test before departure. However, they do need to test on ‘Day 2’. Under 4-year-olds do not have to test at all.
It is essential for you to have your ‘day 2’ & ‘day 8’ tests (should both be required depending on vaccination status) pre-ordered BEFORE departure. The booking reference and company name you booked with, need to be added to your passenger locator forms to be able to board your flight.
You can decide to source your lateral flow test while in your vacation destination. However, I would recommend pre-purchasing and actually taking the tests on holiday with you. This way you are not wasting any of your vacation time travelling or even trying to source a test in resort. I personally used a company called ‘Breathe Assured‘ on my last trip. Once you have purchased your tests, you then book your online appointment for up to 72 hours before you travel home. You pick an appointment time to suit you and a video call is done to monitor your test. A certificate to travel is then issued on a negative result. This will need to be shown at check-in to board your flight.
Red List Countries and Requirements
Red list countries are those deemed to be the highest Covid risk and should not be visited ‘except in the most extreme of circumstances’.
If you have visited any country on the red list within the last 10 days, you are only permitted entry to the UK if you are a UK or Irish national or UK resident.
Regardless of your vaccination status, all persons coming from a red category country must do the following:
- Take a Covid test up to 72 hours before departure and have negative proof.
- Complete a passenger locator form
- Self-isolate in a government approved quarantine hotel. This must be booked and paid for in advance.
From 8th August 2021, the price of staying in a government-approved quarantine hotel has increased. The prices now are £2285 per adult for 10 days (11 nights). An additional adult or child over 11 is an extra £1,430 and children aged 5 to 11 come in at £325.
An expensive return home!!! Better stick to green or amber don’t you think?
Other Countries Additional Requirements
Now it is all well and good knowing what the UK government requires you to do if you’re heading abroad, but what about your destination country?
It is essential that you check if there are any additional requirements outlined on top of the ones already stated above. For instance, if you were planning on heading to Cyprus, you are required to fill out a Cyprus flight pass. This is similar to the passenger locator form, but will also require your proof of vaccination or ‘fit to fly’ certification you receive when paying for a Covid-19 test with a private company.
Spain also has their own version of a passenger locator form to be filled in. It really is essential to check your destination for their requirements.
Remember, just because a country may be on the UK ‘Green List’, this does not necessarily mean you will be granted entry. For example, Australia and New Zealand are both green listed countries, however, their borders remain closed to international travellers.
Please don’t feel put off by these restrictions and requirements. It may seem daunting at first, but having been through it myself already, it really is not as bad as it seems. If you are feeling worried about the whole concept, this is exactly where using a travel agent can be a huge help. This is where having someone do the trivial things for you can really make all the difference. As a licenced ‘Independent Travel Agent’ I would be delighted to help you get away on that much-needed break away from the UK.
So if you’re planning on getting away, remember to ‘Travel With Cooky!‘.
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