The travel traffic light system – what countries are on the green list?

travel traffic light system

As England moves into the next phase of the roadmap out of lockdown, many are asking where can I go on holiday abroad? The government has confirmed 17 May for the travel restart date, as well as revealing which countries are on the green list under the new travel traffic light system.

So if you’re ready to start dusting off your beach towels, read on to find out everything you need to know about the UK’s travel traffic light system and the destinations that feature on the holiday ‘green list’ this summer.

What is the travel traffic light system?

Following the recent announcement from the UK government, international travel to and from England will be allowed again with the help of a new traffic light system. The scheme sees destinations graded as green, amber and red based on their Covid-19 risk levels, each with different rules around testing and quarantining.

There’s already a ‘red’ list of countries which are deemed to be high-risk for coronavirus. If you’ve been to any of these in the 10 days prior to arriving in the UK you’ll be required to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days. The expanded list has introduced lower risk green and amber countries which will be subject to more relaxed measures.

How the traffic light system will work

Travel traffic light system green list countries

Green countries – you’ll be tested but there’s no quarantine

  • When travelling back to England from ‘green countries’ you’ll need to take a pre-departure test in that country.
  • On or before the second day after arriving in the UK you will need to take a PCR test.
  • You will not need to quarantine unless you receive a positive test.

Amber countries – you’ll need an additional test and must self-isolate

  • People arriving from amber list countries will have to quarantine for 10 days at home.
  • You will have to take a pre-departure test, plus a PCR test on days 2 and 8 (reduced to day 5 by paying for an extra test on that day).
  • There are rumours that fully vaccinated people could potentially avoid quarantine, however this is yet to be confirmed.

Red countries – you’ll be tested and made to quarantine in a hotel

  • When travelling back to England, you’ll need to take a pre-departure test then PCR tests on day 2 and 8.
  • Arrivals from ‘red list’ countries have to quarantine for 10 days in a specific quarantine hotel at a cost of £1,750.

Arrivals from red list countries must book a quarantine package before departure, while arrivals from amber and green countries will be required to book their test packages from an approved list of providers before travelling. Also, remember that other countries’ travel policies may differ from the UK’s. For the latest advice, check the embassy for your destination country before travelling.

So, what countries are on the green list?

Lots of places are already open to visitors, or have announced plans to open up to British holidaymakers, with certain precautions in place, as soon as we’re allowed to fly again.

So, where could British travellers actually go on holiday this summer? Here’s a look at which countries are on the green list from May 17:

  • Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira
  • Israel
  • Singapore
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Brunei
  • Iceland
  • Gibraltar
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • South Georgia and Sandwich Islands and Saint Helena
  • Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Can I go on holiday to countries on the green list?

Yes, you can go on holiday to countries on the green list as long as they are accepting UK arrivals. Holidaymakers are not welcome in all of the green list destinations, such as Australia and New Zealand which are currently closed to international travel.

You’ll need to take a pre-departure test, as well as a PCR test on or before day two of your arrival back in the UK. For green list countries there is no quarantine required on your return to the UK unless you test positive. The country you are travelling to may also require a test, although the EU has suggested those who have been vaccinated, and can provide evidence of this, won’t need to take a test.

What countries are on the amber list?

  • The USA: The USA will be on the government’s amber list. In places like Orlando, Disney World is open for business, as are the other major theme parks and attractions. Or for a beach-based getaway, you’ll find beauty spots like Florida’s Clearwater Beach or Malibu in California, with few restrictions in place.
The USA is likely to make the travel green list
  • Malta: Malta is looking at creative ways to revive its tourism industry – according to rumours it’s planning on paying tourists a handout of up to £170 to visit!
  • The Caribbean: Many Caribbean islands have been included in the amber list, including popular holiday hotspots such as Barbados.
Barbados will make the travel green list this summer
  • Mauritius: Mauritius was removed from England’s red list earlier this year. The island has a relatively low number of cases, however it’s worth noting that international flights are currently suspended, so it will depend on the island’s own restrictions when the UK’s lift.
  • Mexico: A lot of people are asking is Mexico on the red list? Mexico’s case numbers are currently falling, and the country hasn’t been closed to British passengers, so as restrictions ease in the UK, Mexico will be on the amber list. Holiday hotspots like Los Cabos were the first to welcome back travellers in the wake on last year’s worldwide shutdown, and the region continues to host visitors safely.
Mexico is on the travel traffic light system list

Other ‘amber’ countries

Holiday hubs like Spain, Thailand, Canada, Morocco and Grenada will have a place on the UK’s amber list. You can see the full list on GOV.UK.

What countries will be on the red list?

Arrivals from red list countries will face he toughest restrictions of all and must enter into hotel quarantine at a cost of £1,750, including Covid tests on day two and eight. Much of Africa is already on the red list, and three more countries are to be added, these are:

  • The Maldives
  • Turkey
  • Nepal

These countries will move to the red list on at 4am on May 12. If you arrive in England after then you will need to follow the red list rules.

When will the travel ban be lifted?

The government’s original date of May 17, 2021 will see international travel reopen.

A green watchlist will also be introduced to help identify countries most at risk from moving from green to amber, so at least there will be some warning for travellers. Restrictions will be formally reviewed on June 28, and then again no later than July 31 and October 1.

Will I need a vaccine passport?

Covid certification, including proof of a negative test, is already part of international travel. Some airlines have said they won’t be turning away unvaccinated travellers, however it may prove a challenge to find many holiday destinations that don’t require proof of a negative test or a vaccine.

If you’ve had the vaccine, it will be helpful to keep proof that you’ve had it. A number of countries, including Greece and Cyprus, have announced that they expect to admit UK visitors either with a recent negative test or proof of vaccination.

When can I book a holiday abroad?

You can book a holiday right now! If you can, you should probably book sooner rather than later to avoid the rush and hike in prices when international travel resumes. If you book with a provider who offers flexible cancellation policies, you can amend or cancel your dates if anything changes.

Since country lists and regulations are likely to be somewhat fluid, we recommend investing in travel insurance with Covid cover for extra peace of mind.

How about holidays in England?

Holidays in England resumed on April 12, with self-catering accommodation including holiday homes, glamping and camping reopening across the country. The United Kingdom boasts some unique destinations for holidays, and the weaker pound is making UK staycations an attractive option.

Some of the best UK holiday destinations to consider include the coastal regions of Kent, the rolling greens of the Cotswolds, and the sprawling counties of East and West Sussex.

UK staycations are an alternative to international travel

Tempted to book?

Ready to book your next getaway? Top Villas offers a wide range of great-value holiday homes in some of the world’s most popular vacation spots. Book with us and not only will you get beautiful accommodation at great prices, you’ll also benefit from round-the-clock customer service plus a wide range of fantastic travel extras.

Follow our simple online booking process and you can secure your holiday home instantly without any phone calls or fuss. It’s easy to check availability, get a quote and book instantly online. Or if you’d prefer to talk to one of our friendly villa experts, give us a call!

Enjoy total peace of mind

We are currently offering extra flexibly for your peace of mind. Our new flexible cancellation policies mean that you can reschedule or even cancel your stay for any reason, even if you are due to check in soon. Simply choose a property marked with Flex 14 or Flex 30.

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