Under current circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, many people want to know when they must quarantine in the UK after travelling abroad. Following recent announcements, countries have now been sorted into a traffic light system ordered by levels of risk. Further to this, you will need to take day 2 and 8 tests if you visit a country outside of the green list.
If you’re looking for information on when you must self-isolate, we’ve gathered all that you need to know in this handy guide. With that said, let’s take a look at the current rules set by the government regarding travel, quarantine and keeping safe — both in the UK and abroad. This information is all correct at time of writing, but travellers should always consult with the latest FCDO and government advice before booking travel and before departing.
The green countries travel list
The British government has launched a ‘traffic light’ system for countries around the world to categorise them based on their potential for safe travel. This list is set to be reviewed and updated every 3 weeks based on a variety of factors including transmission rates, new infection variants and vaccination rollouts.
There are some countries that have been placed on the ‘green’ list for travel. This means that you will not have to quarantine after you have visited one of the countries on the list.
No isolation or quarantine period will be needed, but you will be required to take a PCR test before you return to the UK. A PCR test is a pre-departure test that will test whether you are carrying the virus. If you are free from the virus, you will be able to return to the UK without the need to isolate.
Countries on the green list in its first iteration include Australia, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand and Singapore. As usual, if you must travel abroad for work reasons, you will be required to quarantine upon your return.
There are certain jobs that qualify for travel exemption including many in the medical profession. If you are planning to travel abroad, it’s important to make sure you have all the necessary documents in place.
Green list countries are ranked as the safest to visit based on the likelihood of coronavirus transmission. However, this safety rating applies purely to factors relating to COVID-19 and not to any other political, safety or travel measures. Being rated as a green country also does not mean that the country itself is accepting travellers or does not have its own travel restrictions in place.
The Amber Countries Travel List
If you visit an ‘amber’ country on the travel list, you will need to take a COVID test before your return to the UK. You will also need to quarantine for 10 days altogether and pay for PCR tests on the second and eighth day of your isolation period.
Countries on the amber list include Barbados, Fiji, France, Germany and Spain.
You will also have the option to pay for a test to release on day five of your quarantine period. By doing this, you may be able to end your isolation period early if you’re found to be negative for COVID-19; but will still have to take a day 8 test regardless of the result.
Whilst non-essential travel to the countries on the amber list isn’t entirely forbidden, it is advised against. All of the above advice is applicable to those who have travelled through an amber country in any capacity in the 10 days before their arrival in the UK, even if it wasn’t their destination and they didn’t stay.
The Red Countries Travel List
Finally, the red countries list indicates those countries with the highest rates of coronavirus. Currently, there are over 40 countries on this list and new countries can be added to the list at any time. If you have to visit one of these countries for work reasons, you will need to take extra measures and are required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon arrival to the UK.
You must take a coronavirus test before you fly to the country and one before you fly back to the UK. It is also necessary for you to take PCR COVID tests on the fifth and eighth days of your isolation period.
As it stands, 40 nations are currently on the red list. It is strongly advised that you avoid travelling to these countries where possible. All of the above advice is applicable to those who have travelled through a red country in any capacity in the 10 days before their arrival in the UK, even if it wasn’t their destination and they didn’t stay.
Hotel Quarantine Period
If you enter the UK from a red list country, you will be required to quarantine in a managed hotel for a period of 10 days. You will not be permitted to quarantine at a private address and could be fined up to £10,000 if you fail to provide accurate details of the countries you have visited.
Only British nationals, Irish nationals and those with residence rights in the UK will be permitted entry to the UK at all when travelling from a red country, even if quarantine measures have been planned.
Travellers planning trips to countries on the red list will be required to arrange to cover the costs of their hotel quarantine period, and be able to prove that they have booked sufficient government-approved quarantine accommodation before departure. Various hotel quarantine packages are available but they are not cheap — prices start at £1,750 for 1 adult in 1 room.
There are two exceptions to the enforced hotel quarantine period post-travelling through or from a red list country. These are nurses working for the NHS, who are able to quarantine in specific NHS facilities; and children attending boarding schools in England, who may be able to quarantine at their school premises.
You can book day 2 and 8 tests from Medicspot, Agilis, Clinicare UK, The Acorn Pharmacy and a number of other Government-approved providers across the UK. To find out more, visit the government’s testing guidance advice page.