Like the rest of the world, the UK has paid a heavy price. The country has one of the highest numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths around the world. Even though they are the first country to start a vaccination scheme, they are still battling a deadly second wave. The new Covid-19 variant has been discovered in the country and is said to be more infections. As a result, several countries have banned flights from the UK right before Christmas.
But like most countries around the world, the UK is trying to go back to normal and is slowly reopening its borders to travelers visiting as tourists. If you are planning to travel to the UK during this Covid-19 pandemic, here’s everything you need to know about the latest travel restrictions.
Different Rules and Restrictions
The United Kingdom’s four nations ( England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland ) have each implemented different travel restrictions. England imposed a “travel corridor” scheme where visitors coming from countries on their travel corridor list can enter the country with no quarantine. All visitors who came from countries outside of the “travel corridor” list must go on quarantine for 10 days upon their arrival.
Meanwhile, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have similar schemes as that of England, however, the countries that are on their “exemption list” are not necessarily the same as England.
All travelers, resident, and tourists traveling into the UK coming from any country must provide their journey and contact details. Please note that you may be fined for up to up to £100 if you refuse to provide your contact details. You may be fined more if you break this rule more than once. Those who refuse to self-isolate could be fined £10,000.
Green, Amber, and Red List Countries
The UK uses a “traffic light system” in categorizing countries according to their Covid-19 situation. Countries are grouped as either green, amber, or red, with the green countries having the lowest risk while red has the highest risk. Travelers entering the UK must follow certain travel restrictions according to the categorization of the country in which they came from. The traffic light system is being reviewed by the UK government every three weeks.
If you came from the “Green List” of countries, you must take a Covid-19 test before you travel to the UK. You will be tested again upon arrival and you are required to book and pay for this test in advance. A negative test result must be submitted before taking your flight.
On your arrival, you need to take a second Covid-19 test on or before day two since you arrive. Kids below four years old are not required to take this test. If the test result is negative, then you don’t need to quarantine, unless it was determined that you have been in close contact with someone who is positive.
Here are the countries and territories under the green list.
- Antarctica/British Antarctic Territory
- Antigua and Barbuda
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- Cayman Islands
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- Hong Kong
- Israel and Jerusalem
- New Zealand
- Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno Islands
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- St Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha
- Turks and Caicos Islands
The UK government is closely monitoring the situation in the countries on the Green List. Some of these countries are on the “green watchlist” which means these countries are at risk of moving from green to amber anytime soon. For the latest update, refer to the UK Government Website.
Those who came from the “Amber List” of countries or have been to any of these countries in the past 10 days must undergo a Covid-19 test at least three days before their trip and submit a negative result before taking their flight.
On your arrival, you are required to quarantine at home or in any place you are staying for ten days. While in quarantine, you need to take the test on or before day 2. Then take another test on or after your 8th day in isolation. These tests must be booked prior to your entry into the country. This rule also applies to UK residents who came from any of the Amber Countries and are not fully vaccinated, including those who were fully vaccinated in another country.
For vaccinated travelers who came from amber countries, you don’t need to quarantine or take another test on your 8th day of isolation.
Here are the countries and territories on the “amber list”.
- Akrotiri and Dhekelia
- The Bahamas
- Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- The British Virgin Islands
- Burkina Faso
- The central African Republic
- Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Czech Republic (Czechia)
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- French Polynesia
- The Gambia
- Greece (including islands)
- Marshall Islands
- New Caledonia
- North Korea
- North Macedonia
- The Occupied Palestinian Territories
- Papua New Guinea
- Portugal (including the Azores)
- San Marino
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Solomon Islands
- South Korea
- South Sudan
- Spain, including the Canary Islands and the Balearic islands (Formentera, Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca)
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Maarten
- St Martin and St Barthélemy
- St Pierre and Miquelon
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- United States (USA)
- Wallis and Futuna
- Western Sahara
If a country or territory is not on the list above, it is either on the green or red list category. Countries and territories are only green or red if they appear on the green or red list.
If you came from any country or territory that are on the red list or have been to any of these places in the past ten days of your arrival in the UK, then you must take a Covid-19 test before your trip and book a quarantine hotel package that comes with two Covid-19 tests. This applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. Take note that non-UK residents or citizens will be refused entry if the purpose of the visit is non-essential. Booking for quarantine hotels can be done through this online portal.
Upon your arrival in the country, you must immediately head to the hotel for your 10-day quarantine. You must undergo a Covid-19 test on your second day and another on your eighth day. Only if both tests turn out negative will you be allowed to end your quarantine.
Here’s a list of countries and territories under the “red list”.
- Cape Verde
- Congo (Democratic Republic)
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- French Guiana
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
It’s important to note that different isolation rules could apply if you visit Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. You still need to self-isolate if you’ve been to or made a ‘transit stop’ in the previous 14 days in any country that is on the red list. A ‘transit stop’ is a stop where passengers can get on or off a coach, ferry, train, or plane. Your ticket should say if a stop is a transit stop.
What Other Measures Have Been Put In Place?
The government guidance says all flight passengers should remain at least 2m (6ft) apart from other people wherever possible and consider wearing a face covering. People traveling through Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports should cover their faces and wear gloves.
What Visitors Can Expect?
Visitors traveling to England will find that the country is currently divided into four tiers. Tier 1 is considered the lowest. As of January 1st, only one area in the country is on Tier 1, and that’s the Isles of Scilly. Under this tier, up to six people are allowed to gather indoors and outdoors. Sporting events can take place for a maximum capacity of 4,000. Pubs and bars can operate as normal.
Tier 2 restrictions will only allow individuals to mix among households when outdoors. People will not be allowed to meet other households indoors, even in pubs and bars. Retail shops are open, but sporting events can only take place with only 2,000 spectators.
Tier 3 measures will see pubs, restaurants, and bars closed. Mixing between households can only happen in outdoor public settings such as on beaches and parks.
Tier 4 is a “stay at home” order, which means no one is allowed to go out unless necessary. This applies to London and most of the east and southeast areas of the country. People can exercise outdoors alone while schools remain open.
The government is requiring everyone to follow social distancing measures. As per the law, travelers should wear face coverings in the following settings: shops, supermarkets, indoor transport hubs, indoor shopping centers, banks, building societies, post offices, and public transport.
Check out the United Kingdom on our live map.