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17 May 2021
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

Green travel list confirmed, but only 16% would go on holiday abroad when rules allow


Person with luggage wearing mask looking up at the flight board

The UK has been eagerly awaiting the easing of travel restrictions abroad. But international travel is still full of uncertainties. 

From 17 May, people in some parts of the UK can travel to countries on a ‘green list’ put together by the government. 

Some of the countries on the list so far are Australia, Iceland and Portugal. 

But according to our research, two in five don’t feel safe enough to travel*. And of those that are considering travelling abroad, one in five would only go if they felt safe to do so. 

Others have been eagerly awaiting this news. One in seven people have already booked a holiday abroad. With Portugal being the most popular country on the green list to visit. 

But travel during a pandemic is still full of uncertainties, and some towns within these countries are still under restrictions. 

Countries can move from the green list to the red or amber list too - if they’re on the red or amber list, you shouldn’t visit them. So how could this impact your insurance? 

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What is the green list and which countries are on it? 

At the time of publishing, the green list is made up of these countries: 

  • Australia

  • Brunei

  • Falkland Islands

  • Faroe Islands

  • Gibraltar

  • Iceland

  • Israel and Jerusalem

  • New Zealand

  • Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira)

  • Singapore

  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

  • St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha 

On 17 May, you should be able to travel to these countries from most parts of the UK, except for Northern Ireland.

The government in Northern Ireland will review this and other measures on 24 May.

Although travel from Wales to these countries is legal, First Minister Mark Drakeford is advising people to think carefully about whether they need to travel abroad

You’ll have to take a coronavirus test before you travel , then another coronavirus test no more than two-days after you get back. 

You’ll also have to fill out a passenger locator form before you arrive back in the UK.


What are the most popular countries on the green list? 

According to our research, the most popular holiday destinations on the green list are:







New Zealand





What can I do when I get to a green list country? 

Our research shows that more than one in five people are confused about the social distancing rules in each country. 

These rules vary depending on the country you are visiting. Portugal’s lockdown for example, is known as “a situation of calamity”. 

Their situation of calamity works in phases from one to four. It’s like the road map that England is using. 

This should end on 16 May in time to greet holiday makers. 

But some municipalities like Odemira, Carregal do Sal, Resende, Cabeceiras de Basto and Paredes are still under stricter measures. 

The rest of Portugal will have slightly less strict measures, with restaurants, cafes and pastry shops open until 10.30pm. 

Groups of six will be allowed inside, and groups of ten on terraces. 

Masks will have to be worn in enclosed spaces too. 

But Visit Portugal has stated that these will be reviewed every 15 days, so travellers should keep this in mind when planning a trip. 

Before you go, check the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)  and the country’s tourist board to see what their restrictions are. 


How are airlines protecting against coronavirus? 

Over one in five people are confused about how airlines will adhere to social distancing rules. 

There will be social distancing measures in the airport. Masks will be mandatory, and you’ll have to keep a two-metre distance when queuing. This distance should be clearly marked. 

They may also ask you to download an app for contactless check-in. 

When you’re on board, you’ll also have to wear a mask. Flight attendants will be disinfecting high-touch areas on a regular basis too. 

It’s likely that your airline will ask people to leave the plane in smaller groups to avoid crowding. 

When you’ve booked your flights, check with your airline to see how they’re keeping you safe. 


What is the amber list and which countries are on it? 

The amber list has over 60 countries on it currently, including popular holiday destinations like Greece, Spain and France. 

You shouldn’t travel to any amber listed country for a holiday. 

You’ll only be allowed to travel to these countries for essential reasons. The Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office says: 

“Whether travel is essential or not is your own decision. You may have urgent family or business commitments which you need to attend to. Only you can make an informed decision based on your own individual circumstances and the risks.” 

If you travel to one of these countries, you’ll have to self-isolate for ten days and take two post-arrival tests . 

You'll have to take one test on or before day two of isolation and then another on day eight of isolation.

You could also pay for a private test to end isolation early under the government "test to release" scheme.

If the result of the test is negative you can end your quarantine period. You can find more information about the test to release scheme on GOV.UK.


What is the red list and which countries are on it? 

You also shouldn’t travel to red listed countries unless it’s essential. 

The list has over 40 countries on it currently. 

Some of the countries on the red list are Brazil, South Africa and the Seychelles. 

The restrictions are more severe if you visit one of these countries. When you return, you’ll have to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights, costing around £1,750. 


Is my insurance valid for travel abroad during the pandemic? 

As we all well know by now, the coronavirus situation constantly changes. 

Countries can move from the green to the red or amber list, depending on infection rates. 

If your holiday destination moves to the amber or red list, and it isn't deemed safe to travel there by the FCDO you won’t be covered by your travel insurance.

This applies even if the country was on the green list when you booked your holiday. 

You must not travel if you have coronavirus. To encourage people not to travel if they have the virus, some insurers are offering cover. But you must provide proof of a positive test result. 

Our travel insurance expert, Jac Morris, adds: 

“Travelling abroad could be allowed from 17 May and no doubt many of us are itching to book our first trip away. From this date, travel to countries that are deemed ‘safe’ by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) should be covered by our travel insurance. 

“However, there could still be a number of countries which are banned for international travel throughout the rest of this year. And travel to any of these countries would mean that the journey wouldn’t be covered by your insurance policy, even if it was deemed ‘safe’ at the time of booking.

"If your holiday can no longer go ahead due to a change in the restrictions, you should try to reclaim the cost from the holiday provider as your first option. 

“The rules and guidance around international travel are changing frequently, and it can be confusing to keep up, especially as restrictions ease over the coming months.

"So we’ve compiled the latest travel information issued by the government, as well as how to get in touch with all of our insurance partners to check the latest advice.” 

*Figures taken from omnibus research carried out by OnePoll on behalf of This was a nationally representative poll of 2,000 UK adults. The research was conducted between 12 May 2021 and 14 May 2021. 


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