What are the travel rules now?

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Woman with a suitcase walking along a beachimage source, Getty Images

The rules on foreign travel to and from England are being simplified.

The traffic light system is being scrapped, and fully vaccinated people will take fewer tests after travelling to most countries.

How are the green and amber lists changing?

From 0400 BST on Monday 4 October, the amber and green lists will be merged into a “Rest of World” list.

Anyone who’s fully vaccinated will no longer have to take a PCR test before travelling back to England from one of these countries.

That includes all of Europe and many other popular destinations.

They will still have to take a PCR test two days after arrival, but this will be replaced by a cheaper and simpler lateral flow test later in October.

The government hopes this change will be in place “for when people return from half-term breaks”.

How is the red list changing?

There will still be a red list of countries, but it is getting shorter.

Eight countries are being removed from the red list from 22 September, including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives.

If you visit a red list country, you’ll have to to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel, at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers.

What if I’ve not been vaccinated?

If you haven’t been double-jabbed with a vaccination recognised under England’s travel rules, you will still have to take a pre-departure test.

You will also need a PCR test on days two and eight after arriving, and you will have to self-isolate for 10 days on returning from a non-red list country.

Test to Release will remain an option for unvaccinated passengers who wish to shorten their isolation period.

Anyone who tests positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost. This would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.

What else is changing?

The government says it will also recognise travellers as fully vaccinated if they were jabbed in another 17 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and Canada.

What are the current rules?

Going on holiday abroad means taking Covid tests:

Amber list banner

What are the rules for returning from an amber-list country?

The vast majority of countries are amber, including popular tourist destinations such as Spain (and the Balearic Islands), France, Greece and Italy.

Adults fully vaccinated in the UK, the US and most European countries don’t have to self-isolate upon arrival in the UK.

Those who are not fully vaccinated must self-isolate for 10 days.

A Covid test is needed three days before returning from an amber country, and a PCR test two days after arriving. Adults who are not fully vaccinated also need to take an additional PCR test on or after day eight.

Under-18s do not have to self-isolate. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, under-11s don’t have to test before travel, but do need to take one two days after arrival. Under-5s don’t need to test.

In Scotland, children over 12 have to take tests before returning home, and on day two.

Green list banner (v2)

What are the rules for green-list countries?

Nobody has to self-isolate after visiting countries on the green list.

Returning you must:

You only need to self-isolate on return from these countries if your day two test is positive, you develop symptoms or NHS Test & Trace says you’ve travelled with someone who tested positive.

Red list banner

What are the rules for red-list countries?

Red-list countries are those the UK government says present the highest Covid risk, and should not be visited “except in the most extreme of circumstances”.

Dozens of countries are currently red, including Brazil and South Africa. If you have been in one in the last 10 days, you can only enter the UK if you are a UK or Irish national, or UK resident.

Returning from a red-list country, regardless of your vaccination status, you must:

Rates are:

  • 10 days (11 nights) for one adult – £2,285
  • Additional adult (12 and over) – £1,430
  • Children aged five to 11 – £325

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