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Travel update: what countries have been removed from the red list?

Only seven countries are on the red list at the moment. But there are still rules to adhere to before you travel. Here's what you need to do if you're thinking about booking a holiday.

person looking at departure board

On 4 October, the travel rules were simplified. The government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) removed the amber and green list. Now it’s just the red list and the rest of the world.

Fully-vaccinated passengers who are travelling from the ‘rest of the world’ to the UK won’t need to isolate or do a pre-flight test.

If you’re travelling to the UK from the rest of the world and you haven’t been through a red list country, you should only have to do a PCR test on day two after you return.

From the 24th of October, the PCR test will be replaced with the lateral flow test for fully vaccinated passengers in England. 

You can find out what tests you’ll need at various points of travel at GOV.UK.

Remember: if you have coronavirus symptoms, you’ve been told to isolate, or you’ve tested positive for coronavirus don’t travel.


What’s changed with the new travel announcement?

Now, only seven countries are on the red list:

  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Haiti
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Venezuela.

You won’t be allowed back to the UK from these countries unless you’re a British or Irish national or you have residence rights in the UK.

If you’re a British or Irish national or you have residence rights in the UK, you’ll have to take two tests and stay in a quarantine-managed hotel.

These rules might vary for each country in the UK. You can find out more on GOV.UK.

If you're returning from a country or territory in the ‘rest of the world’ category you won't need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel. The government hopes this will make it easier for holiday makers to get some winter sun.


What you must do when you return to the UK depends on whether you’ve had the vaccination or not


Passengers who are fully vaccinated

If you’ve had both doses of the vaccine or if you're under 18 and returning from a country that’s not on the red list, you must do a PCR test on your second day back.

This will change on the 24 October as fully vaccinated holidaymakers will be able to do a lateral flow test, rather than a PCR test in England. You can find out more about this at GOV.UK.

People visiting the UK from the rest of the world who have been vaccinated have the same rules as fully vaccinated UK residents. That's so long as they haven't passed through a red list country.

Some of the countries that were removed from the red list on 11 October were:

  • Brazil
  • Ghana
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • South Africa
  • Turkey.

You must have had a government-approved vaccine and the proper documentation with you. You can find out what documentation you need on GOV.UK.


Passengers who haven’t been vaccinated

If you're not fully vaccinated, and you're returning from a destination that's not on the red list, you'll need to take a pre-departure test, and two tests when you return. One on, or before, day two and another on, or after, day eight.

You'll also have to self-isolate for 10 days, with the option to ‘test to release’ on day five.

The test and release scheme means you pay for a private COVID-19 test on day five of your isolation. If this comes back negative and the result of your day two test result was negative or inconclusive, you can end your quarantine. Find out more at GOV.UK.

If you're visiting the UK and you haven't had a vaccine, you should take:

  • A pre-departure test.
  • Isolate for 10 days once in the UK.
  • A test on, or before, day two.
  • A test on, or after, day eight.

You’ll also have the option to test and release.


Testing and isolation requirements will vary depending on what country you're visiting in the UK. To find out more visit:


What about travel insurance?

The FCDO doesn’t advise travelling to countries on the red list. If you go against the FCDO advice and travel to a country on the red list, your travel insurance might not cover you.

The FCDO has relaxed the essential travel rule to countries that aren’t on the red list. This means your travel insurance should cover you, as long as the country remains off the red list by the time you travel.

You should be covered by your policy for emergency medical treatment abroad, as well as emergency medical treatment related to COVID-19. Your policy might not provide cover for cancellations due to COVID-19 though. Make sure you check your policy wording carefully before you travel.

More advisories might be removed as countries and territories come off the red list. This should make it easier for people to be covered by travel insurance when visiting other countries.


Will it affect my travel insurance if I don’t have the vaccine?

Insurers should provide cover for people who aren’t vaccinated, but it’s worth checking the small print of your policy to make sure.


What should I check before I travel?

Before you travel you should check the restrictions in the country you’re visiting. They might not be accepting holiday makers yet.

They might have stricter testing regimes for example.

While you’re on holiday you should follow the rules set by that country, for example:

  • Wearing face masks indoors
  • Keeping a safe social distance.