What is the travel traffic light system?

Has the government’s latest travel announcement left you with some questions? What you need to know about the traffic light system.

Has the government’s latest travel announcement left you with some questions? Are you wondering what this travel traffic light system is about? We’re all happy that international travel has officially resumed from 17 May, but it’s not completely clear to everyone what the rules are.

We’ve answered the most pressing questions below, so keep reading to learn about the red, amber, and green lists for travel.

The lists

Countries that you can travel to are designated to one of three lists: red, amber, and green. The list a country is in shows what restrictions you’ll have to stick to when you get back to the UK, based on how much of a Covid-related risk the location(s) you’ve been poses.

At the time of writing, the red, amber, and green lists are being used by England, Scotland, and Wales. Northern Ireland is yet to announce their plans for international travel opening back up.

Green list

  • PCR test taken within 72 hours before returning from abroad
  • Take another PCR test on your second day back
  • No self-isolation needed, unless you test positive

Amber list

  • PCR test taken within 72 hours before returning from abroad
  • Take two more PCR tests when you’re back, on day two and day eight
  • Self-isolate at home for 10 days
  • Test to Release, to cut your time at home short, is available from day five

Red list

  • PCR test taken within 72 hours before returning from abroad
  • Stay in quarantine hotel for 10 days
  • Take two more PCR tests when you’re back, on day two and day eight (no option for Test to Release)

How often are changes going to be made?

There will be formal reviews of the lists every three weeks to begin with, but there could be changes at short notice if the government sees it as necessary.

What if the country I’m in changes while I’m away?

The government will have watchlists for countries that are close to moving from green to amber, or amber to red, so hopefully this should provide you with some warning.

In the event that a country changes list while you’re there, you’ll need to adhere to the new restrictions when you get back. You might be able to get home before the change takes place but this usually won’t be covered by your travel providers.

Does this mean I can go on holiday?

The government is recommending against going to countries that aren’t green on holiday. It’s still legal to go away but there are more risks involved than green countries, for example if it’s moved to the red list and you have to pay for a quarantine hotel.

The traffic light system also doesn’t really decide where you can go on holiday. That’s more based on the FCDO’s travel advice and the specific entry requirements for each country. At the moment, Australia is on the green list but they’re not accepting tourists and you could find that remains the case for others.

Don’t forget your travel insurance

For some people, travel insurance is more important than ever. So don’t forget to take out a travel insurance policy with Avanti for your next holiday!

Make sure you’re clear on the rules for the country you’re travelling to, otherwise your policy might not be valid.

Take out a UK travel insurance policy with Avanti today to give you peace of mind, knowing we have your back when you next go away in your home country.


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