The good news is that international travel is set to resume on May 17th 2021. 

However, it looks like the COVID testing requirements will also change once again, as the Government has introduced a traffic light system to classify countries. This system classifies countries as either red, amber or green based on a variety of COVID-19 statistics, with each colour representing different quarantine and testing rules. 

But what does this mean for you and your holiday plans? What kind of COVID tests for travel will you need? Let us explain:

Why do we need a traffic light system?

The government has decided that the traffic light system is the best way to ensure UK travellers are kept safe when they return from abroad – due to the varying rates of COVID-19 infection in different countries.

Although the vaccination rollout in the UK has been one of the fastest in the world, some countries that are popular holiday destinations are way behind us. The traffic light system is therefore aimed at preventing UK travellers from bringing foreign variants of COVID-19 back into the UK, by ensuring all travellers take at least one test when they return.

The traffic light system divides countries in three ways:

  • Red
  • Amber
  • Green

Different testing and quarantine rules will apply depending on what country you will return from – as follows:

Green country testing requirements

Returning to the UK from a country on the green list means less quarantine and less testing. 

Travellers from the UK will be expected to take a test before returning to the UK – although there is no confirmation yet as to what type of test will be valid for this. 

After arrival back into the UK, travellers will need to take a PCR test on or before day two. This is similar to the current Day Two and Day Eight PCR testing requirements for international arrivals, with the difference being that the Day Eight test won’t be needed.

There will be no need to quarantine – unless your COVID test result comes back as positive.

Amber country testing requirements

Returning to the UK from a country on the amber list means following the same rules that have been in place for travellers since February 2021. 

Before you set off on your return journey from an amber country to the UK, you will be expected to take a test – in a similar way to countries on the green list.

Once you have arrived back in the UK, you will need to quarantine for ten days, and take a Day Two PCR Test and a Day Eight PCR Test. 

You do have the chance to potentially cut short your quarantine period though, by taking a PCR Test to Release on Day Five. 

Red country testing requirements

Returning to the UK from a country on the red list means facing the strictest requirements of all.

Similar to the current restrictions on red list countries, you will be expected to quarantine in a government-managed hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1750. 

You will also need to organise and take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on Day Two and Day Eight.

Which countries are on each list?

At the moment there has been no definite announcement as to which countries are on which list – apart from the recent announcement of the green list of countries. . There has also been no official statement on what metrics will be used to help decide which list a country is placed on, although we are led to believe it will be:

  • Number of cases and death
  • Vaccination rates
  • Little or no variants of concern

As you can see, this traffic light system does simplify the testing requirements a little, but being absolutely sure of what tests you need and making sure everything goes smoothly is key.

Fit2FlyTest offers gold-standard Fit to Fly tests, giving you peace of mind that you can safely return from and meet the requirements for those countries on the Green and Amber lists. 

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