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This article was updated on 4th June 2021 to reflect the UK government’s announcement about Portugal on the 3rd June. 

Twelve countries have now been added to the UK government’s “green list”, meaning UK travellers won’t need to quarantine after returning home.

Gibraltar, Israel and Portugal are all among the destinations that were added to the UK government’s “green list” of countries. These are the places they say are safe to visit when holidays and other non-essential travel can begin again from May 17th. However, when the Government completed their first review of these countries on the 3rd of June, they announced that Portugal would be moving to the amber list from the 8th of June. 

Countries around the world have been assigned a red, amber or green status based on a number of health metrics connected to COVID-19 including:

  • Infection rates
  • Variants
  • Vaccination numbers

If a country is on the green list, then there is no need for UK travellers to quarantine on return from their holiday.

However, before rushing into booking your holiday to a green list destination you still need to check what the country’s entry requirements are. 

Which countries are on the green list?

  • Australia
  • Brunei
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal (Until the 8th June when it will move to the amber list)
  • Singapore
  • South Georgia and Sandwich Islands
  • St Helena, Tristan de Cuna, and Ascension Island

Can I book a holiday to a country on the green list?

Yes, as long as you have checked that they will let you in.

If a country is on the green list, this means you don’t have to quarantine when you get home. However, you will still need to take a pre-departure test before leaving the country to return to the UK as well as on or before day two after you land.

Even if these countries open up their border to travellers from the UK, they will probably still require you to provide proof of a negative PCR test on arrival. Each country will have their own requirement, so make sure you check entry requirements before you book. 

You should also take into account any advice from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). If they are advising against travel to a country that you intend on travelling to, then you may find it difficult to get travel insurance. However, if you book your holiday through a reputable holiday company, then you should be entitled to a destination or date change or a refund if the FCDO advise changes after you have finalised your booking.  

It is also important to remember that flights may still operate to certain countries, even if the FCDO advises against travel to that country. Last year some holiday companies stated that if flights were still operating they wouldn’t offer refunds, so make sure you book a package holiday to protect yourself against that. 

What happens if I book a holiday to a green list country and it changes to the amber list?

There is a chance that the government could change the list a country is on with little or no warning, causing havoc to your holiday. Saying this, the government has stated that they will review the lists every three weeks this year, compared to weekly last year, in a bid to minimise disruption – but holidays could still be impacted.

They have also said they will produce a green country ‘watchlist’ to help travellers identify which countries might be at risk of being moved to the amber list. This means you should get some advance warning that the country you are planning to travel to is under review before it actually gets downgraded. For example, on 4th June the UK government announced they would be moving Portugal from the green list to the amber list on the 8th June. 

Can I book a holiday to a country on the amber list?

The government is not encouraging it, but technically yes you can. However, you will need to quarantine at home for ten days after you arrive back in the UK. You will also need to take a pre-departure test before you leave the amber country, and also a PCR test on day two and day eight after arrival back into the UK. 

You can, however, order a Test to Release test, to take on day five if you want to end quarantine early – on receipt of a negative test result. 

Can I book a holiday to a country on the red list?

The government is currently strongly advising against any travel to countries on the res list, except in “extreme circumstances” although it is not actually illegal. You will, however, need to pay for a 10-day quarantine stay at a government-managed hotel, as well as taking a pre-departure test and a PCR test on days two and eight. 

If you are abroad when a country changes from the green or amber list to the red list, then you may need to pay for a flight to get home before the change takes place – and the airfares will probably be very high. Or, you can continue your holiday as planned and pay for the ten-day hotel quarantine.

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