UK travel red list cut to just 7 countries [UPDATE: The travel traffic light system]

travel traffic light system

Updated 07/10/2021

The UK has removed all but seven of the remaining countries on the red list.

Brazil and Mexico have come off the red list, and so travellers will no longer need to quarantine in an approved hotel at their cost for 10 full days.

Th countries that remain on the red list are Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The red list only states what travellers must do when entering the UK, and there may still be restrictions when entering countries on the red list.


Updated 17/09/2021

From 4 October the travel traffic light system will be simplified, removing the amber list, while keeping a simple red list. The latest update to the travel restrictions will affectively merge the amber and green lists. Travel measures for those entering from those countries will also be simplified. For those who are fully vaccinated, you will no longer need to take a pre-departure test or quarantine for 10 days on arrival. You will still need to complete a passenger locator form and take a covid on our before day 2 of your arrival in the England.

Read more here.

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 been regularly updating 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 and complete a passenger locator form.
  • 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 (if you’re double vaccinated you will not need to quarantine)

  • You will have to take a pre-departure test, plus a PCR test in the 3 days before you travel to England and complete a passenger locator form.
  • Book and pay for tests to be taken within 2 days of arrival.
  • People 18 years+ arriving from amber list countries need to quarantine for 10 days at home.
  • Double vaccinated US and EU travellers arriving into the UK from ‘amber list’ countries will no longer need to quarantine. A pre-departure PCR/Lateral flow test and PCR test on day 2 after arrival will still apply.
  • Under 18’s will not need to quarantine and may be exempt from a test, depending on their age.

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

  • If you have been in a country on the red list in the last 10 days you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK.
  • 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 complete a passenger locator form and book a 10-day hotel quarantine package (with 2 Covid tests), at a cost of £1,750 (based on 1 adult staying in 1 room). Additional adults/children aged 5+ will also incur a fee*.

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:

  • Singapore
  • Brunei
  • Iceland
  • Gibraltar
  • Germany
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • South Georgia and Sandwich Islands
  • Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
  • Israel and Jerusalem (at risk of moving to amber list)
  • Australia (borders currently closed to travellers)
  • New Zealand (borders currently closed to travellers)
  • Malta
  • Bulgaria
  • Hong Kong
  • Norway
  • Slovenia
  • Austria
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria
  • Slovakia
  • Finland

The following countries are on the green watchlist (which means they are at risk of moving to amber):

  • Madeira
  • Barbados
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bermuda
  • The Cayman Islands
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • British Antarctic Territory
  • British Indian Ocean Territory
  • Montserrat
  • Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
  • Croatia (currently at risk of moving to the amber list)
  • Taiwan

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 Caribbean: A handful of Caribbean islands are currently on the amber list, including Jamaica, St Lucia, St Maarten, St Barts, the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands.
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, and is now accepting some international flights.
  • India, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will be moving to the amber list.
  • Mexico: A lot of people are asking is Mexico on the red list? Mexico moved to the red list on 8 August. Holiday hotspots like Los Cabos were the first to welcome back travellers in the wake on last year’s worldwide shutdown, and will hopefully be able to welcome them back safely soon.
Mexico is on the travel traffic light system list

Other ‘amber’ countries

Holiday hubs like France*, Italy, mainland Spain, Portugal, Canada and Morocco currently have a place on the amber list. The Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera) and the British Virgin Islands are also now on the UK’s amber list. You can see the full list on GOV.UK.

Double vaccinated US and EU travellers arriving into the UK will no longer need to quarantine. A pre-departure PCR/Lateral flow test and PCR test on day 2 after arrival will still apply — with the exception of France*, where quarantine is still in force, even for the double vaccinated. This restriction will stay in place until 04:00 BST, 8 August. After this time, all fully vaccinated travellers arriving from France into England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be exempt from quarantine.

Under 18’s will be exempt from quarantine and depending on age, Covid tests too.

Is Spain open to tourists?

Many travellers are asking is Spain open to tourists? The answer is yes, Spain has lifted restrictions for UK travellers. Mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands are on the amber list, so certain protocols apply. Firstly you will need to offer proof of a negative Covid-19 test 14 days prior to arrival, if your departure is from one of Spain’s list of ‘risk countries‘. You’ll also need to complete an online pre-travel declaration form. Once you’re there, be prepared to present a negative test result on check-in to your accommodation, as well as when travelling to the mainland from the Spanish Islands. On your return to the UK, you will need to be tested and to quarantine at home or booked accommodation for 10 days.

From 19th July, quarantine will no longer be required for fully vaccinated travellers and under 18-year olds, but a Covid test will be required 3 days before returning and on the 2nd day after return. Stay in the know here.

What countries will be on the red list?

The full list of red list countries can be viewed here. Arrivals from red list countries will face the 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 more countries were recently added, including:

  • Costa Rica
  • Egypt
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • The Dominican Republic
  • Haiti
  • Eritrea
  • Mongolia
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Cuba
  • Indonesia
  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Sierra Leone
  • Mexico
  • Georgia
  • La Reunion
  • Mayotte
  • Thailand

When will the travel ban be lifted?

The government lifted the international travel ban on May 17, 2021. The traffic light system places 3-tier restrictions on countries with low, high and escalating Covid-19 cases.

A green watchlist is helping 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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