A Quick Guide to International Travel Rules

A Quick Guide to International Travel Rules

Traffic Light System for International Travel from 17th May 2021

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has now confirmed the UK policy for international travel through the Covid-19 pandemic. Every country will be designated according to a traffic light system, based on the prevalence rates, variant prominence, vaccination rates and testing capability.

The full list of Red, Amber & Green list countries can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-amber-and-green-list-rules-for-entering-england#green-list, where you can also sign up for email alerts following Government updates to the list.

Country Designation & What it Means

Non-essential travel to RED list countries is still illegal. Whilst it is still possible to travel to these countries for specified legitimate reasons, on return to the UK full quarantine will be required in Government designated hotels.

It is no longer illegal to travel to AMBER list countries, however it is still not advised.  On return to the UK it will still be necessary to quarantine but this can be done at home or other location of choice.

From 17th May 2021, 12 countries and overseas territories are on the GREEN list. There will be no requirement for quarantine on return to the UK when visiting:



Falkland Islands

Faroe Islands



Israel & Jerusalem

New Zealand

Portugal (including The Azores & Madeira)


South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands

St Helena, Ascension & Tristan Da Cunha

Other UK Requirements

Covid-19 Testing 

Before returning to the UK, you will need to provide a negative Covid-19 test result taken during the three days prior to travel (unless exempt). The test must meet minimum performance standards, and only original result notifications in English, French or Spanish will be accepted.

Further testing will be required on your arrival in the UK

Red Countries – further testing will be provided as part of the quarantine package

Amber Countries – A PCR test will be required on Day 2 and Day 8 after arrival in the UK. It may be possible to end quarantine early by taking a test on Day 5 under the Test to Release scheme.

Green Countries – A PCR test will be required on Day 2 after arrival in the UK.

In addition, all UK arriving passengers are required to complete the Online Passenger Locator Form, declaring where quarantine will take place (for amber countries) and also to enable Track & Trace following any positive test results. 

International Requirements

It will also be necessary to check the requirements of any country you are travelling to or through.

The EU has proposed to allow travel into the EU from June for passengers who have been fully vaccinated. It should be noted though that member states may still include additional requirements for testing and quarantine.

Many other countries around the world are also preparing to open their borders to international visitors too. Current information by country can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice


The UK Government has confirmed that passengers can declare their vaccination status via the NHS Health App (not the track&trace app) or by requesting a paper record from the local GP.

Other Considerations

When booking, check with your agent, operator or airline for current terms & conditions and cancellation policy in the event that your booking must be cancelled or amended due to changing travel rules.

And finally, check your insurance coverage.

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