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UK Travel Restrictions – Can you travel from the UK and what are the quarantine rules on your return?

22 February 2021

Last updated on 4th June 2021 – 8-minute read

By Letitia Smith. Letitia is the Content Manager at AllClear. As a specialist travel insurance provider, we keep you updated on all the latest travel news.

While the vaccine rollout continues its success, travel is back on the agenda for 2021. However, there are travel restrictions in place that may impact on your choice of destinations in 2021. 

Chris Rolland, AllClear CEO said: “A recent poll of over 3,000 AllClear customers found that 70% feel more confident about travelling following their vaccination.  We also know from separate research 72% of people in the UK would be happy to pay as much as £850 to ensure safety while travelling, with the top priority being to seek out better travel insurance.”

So we’ve put together this up-to-date guide to help you plan for travel from the 17th May. 

Red, Amber and Green Travel 

Traffic-light-System-AllClear-Travel

Red – full stop to travel, you will not be able to go

Before travelling, you’ll need to check the government’s travel advice on the destination you plan to visit. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website details the latest information on COVID-19, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.

If the FCDO advise against ‘all travel’ you will not be able to travel to that country. If advice is against ‘all but essential travel’ you may be able to travel under some circumstances – see the Amber section below.

Here’s the list of banned countries or red list. With travel from those countries already banned, it means this quarantine will only apply to returning Brits.

You’ll need to self-isolate in a government approved quarantine hotel for 10 days. These quarantine packages come at a cost, and you need to book this before you travel. During your quarantine you must take two mandatory coronavirus tests, on day two and day eight of your 10 days. You will need two negative results otherwise your self-isolation period will be extended.

For more information,  visit the FCDO website.

Amber – You may be able to travel under certain circumstances

Travel is not impossible under an amber light, but you may need to qualify for travel or fulfil certain entry requirements.

These countries are not listed as a travel corridor, which means you may need to quarantine when you get back home. 

How do you know which countries are an amber light for travel?

As well as reviewing the UK’s own travel advice, you’ll need to look at your destination’s guidance. They may have entry restrictions in place, such as having to quarantine on arrival, which wouldn’t work if you were only planning a 1 or 2 week holiday.

Your destination country may also only be allowing entry to travellers arriving for ‘essential reasons’, not tourism. So double-check you will be OK to fly before heading off.

Find out more in our blog ‘Arriving at your holiday destination 

What to do if you’re planning on travelling 

  • Make sure there is no national government travel ban in place
  • Check the FCDO advice 
  • Keep up-to-date with your destination’s local government advice, safety guidelines and entry requirements

Green – Travel is OK

Great news!  On the 10th May 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, confirmed that international flights can resume from May 17.

Therefore, you’re free to go ahead and book your trip if your destination:

  • Is on the government travel corridor list and not subject to any UK travel ban.
  • Has no travel bans in place for UK citizens entering the country.
  • You will not need to quarantine on your return

However, because of the global pandemic, you will likely still need to complete some Covid testing during your trip. 

REMEMBER! For your travel insurance to be valid, regardless of the traffic light system, you will need to make sure that the FCDO is NOT advising against all but essential travel to your destination. 

Green List countries and their entry requirements and requirements for returning to the UK

Green List
Country

Requirements to enter chosen destination 

Requirements to return to UK

Gibraltar

 

Permitted travellers must present proof of a negative result from a PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Gibraltar, or take a fast test on arrival at Gibraltar Airport.

Passenger locator form & Pre-departure test at destination

Iceland

 

Proof of a negative PCR taken within 72 hours of their time of departure to Iceland. Followed by two COVID-19 tests, one on arrival and another 5-6 days later. Between these tests, you must follow quarantine measures until you know the result of the second test.

Passenger locator form & Pre-departure test at destination

Israel

 

All eligible travellers will be required to complete an entry form and quarantine for 14 days. This may be shortened to 10 days upon the completion of two negative coronavirus tests (one upon arrival and one after 9 days). Minimum time required between the two tests is at least 24 hours. You should submit all requests for permission to enter Israel directly to the Israeli Embassy in London.

Passenger locator form & Pre-departure test at destination

New Zealand

 

If you’re outside Australia, you can fly quarantine-free to New Zealand once you have met Australia’s managed isolation and quarantine requirements. You will also need to meet immigration rules and eligibility criteria.

Passenger locator form & Pre-departure test at destination

Australia

 

All international travellers entering Australia need to undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a designated facility (for example a hotel) at their port of arrival. You may be required to pay for the costs of your quarantine. This is arranged by individual State and Territory governments. A negative COVID-19 test result is required for travelling to or transiting through Australia.

Passenger locator form & Pre-departure test at destination

Singapore

 

From 24 April, a PCR COVID-19 test is required 72 hours before departure from the UK, with a negative resulted needed in order to travel. All arrivals must have three PCR COVID-19 tests after arrival: one upon arrival in Singapore, one after 14 days and one at the end of their 21 day quarantine period.

Passenger locator form & Pre-departure test at destination

Falklands

 

Tourists are currently not permitted to visit the Falklands. Any entrants into the Falkland Islands are expected to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.

Passenger locator form & Pre-departure test at destination

Faroe Islands

 

All who have been vaccinated (at least eight days prior to their trip to the Faroe Islands) are allowed to enter the Faroe Islands without needing to quarantine for four days after arrival. PCR tests at the border are a requirement for all travellers (also those vaccinated and previously infected travellers) until 30 June 2021 or until further notice.

Passenger locator form & Pre-departure test at destination

St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island

 

All arrivals to St Helena will be subject to compulsory quarantine for 14 days and will require a test at the beginning and end of quarantine to check they are free of COVID-19.

Passenger locator form & Pre-departure test at destination

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

 

Must apply to the Commissioner for permission to land on the Islands before you travel regardless of your nationality or mode of transport.

Passenger locator form & Pre-departure test at destination

Brunei

 

 

Entry to Brunei is severely restricted. Anyone seeking to enter or exit Brunei must apply for a permit from the Prime Minister’s Office at least 8 working days before the intended date of travel. Travellers must provide a negative COVID-19 RT PCR test on arrival, obtained within 72 hours of travel.

Passenger locator form & Pre-departure test at destination

 

Source: The FCDO

REMEMBER! For your travel insurance to be valid, regardless of the traffic light system, you will need to make sure that the FCDO is NOT advising against all but essential travel to your destination.

Things to remember when you’re travelling

Double-check the guidance for your destination country for any last-minute changes to entry requirements or quarantine rules. For the latest travel advice on a particular country, please visit the FCDO Foreign Travel Advice website. If you live in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland, you’ll also need to check your local government website for travel advice as this may differ. The Government’s Twitter feed is also a good way to keep up-to-date.

  • Check what extra things you may need to pack  
  • The FCDO recommends you should be prepared to stay abroad longer than planned. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, you should pack extra medication and details of prescriptions as a precaution.
  • Some destinations – such as China, Thailand, Egypt, Turkey and now the EU – need  six-month validity on your passport. So check your passport expiry date before booking your holiday.

What do you need to look for in a travel insurance policy? 

Comprehensive travel insurance is vital so you can travel with confidence. Look for a policy that covers you for cancellations, emergency medical treatment and repatriation costs related to COVID-19.

Remember that the validity of travel insurance is dependent on FCDO advice – as the current advice warns Brits against all but essential travel to a destination, then your travel insurance is not valid for a holiday. 

How do you get a COVID-19 test before you travel to your destination?

If you need to take a COVID-19 test before you travel abroad you’ll need to arrange and pay for a private test. Do your research and make sure the laboratory doing the test is UKAS certified. The cost for private tests ranges between £89 and £295.

You should NOT use the NHS testing service.

Arriving back in the UK – What you need to know 

The second part of this blog post is all about quarantining and Covid-testing for when you return back to the UK. 

Is COVID-19 testing mandatory for your return to the UK? 

When you arrive back in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, and have travelled by plane, train or boat, you must provide proof of a negative test taken up to 72 hours before you start your journey home.

Even if you tested negative before leaving the UK, you’ll still need to provide a negative test within 72 hours of travelling back to the UK.

You shouldn’t need to provide proof of a negative test to travel within the UK. You also won’t need to take a test if your journey to the UK began in the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Ascension, the Falkland Islands or St Helena. You also do not need to quarantine when arriving in England if travelling from these countries.

Do you need a mandatory COVID-19 test if you’ve had a vaccine?

At the moment, there are no exceptions to the rules on COVID-19 testing if you have had a vaccine. It’s possible this may change as more is known about how well the vaccine stops transmission of the virus and as more people are vaccinated.

What sort of test do you need to take?

The Government has set out the standards for tests it will accept. If you do not take a test that meets the standards then you may not be allowed to travel home. Approved tests include:

  • A nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) test.
  • An antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device.

You can find more information about the test and where to find test providers when abroad on the FCDO travel advice pages.

Will your travel insurance cover the costs of a Covid test abroad?

Travel insurance only covers the cost of unexpected events and emergencies. The COVID-19 testing requirement is now a routine procedure for international arrivals, so it isn’t covered by your travel insurance.

What if you travel back to the UK without proof of a negative test?

You may not be allowed to board your transport back to the UK without proof of a negative test. There are fines of £500 for people who fail to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival in the UK.

Do you still need to isolate for 10 days if you’ve had a negative test before arriving in the UK?

All arrivals need to isolate, unless you’ve travelled from a country on the Green List. 

You can cut your isolation time in half, to five days, using the Test to Release scheme. You’ll need to pay for a private test and if that test comes back negative then you can end your self-isolation

Do you need to complete a passenger locator form?

You’ll need to fill out a Public Health passenger locator form, within the 48 hours before you’re due to arrive in the UK. Once you arrive, you’ll be asked to present this form together with your negative COVID-19 test result.

Hopefully, this information guide is helpful, but be aware that Government advice can change quickly. Thanks also to Nigel Thompson, Travel Editor at the Mirror for some of this information above.

We’ll continue to keep you updated as we work to make travel safe again, allowing you to travel with confidence and peace of mind.