Can I travel on holiday from tomorrow? Rules around international travel explained

Travel rules for Brits are set to change from tomorrow (May 17), including the restart of non-essential foreign travel in England and Scotland.

Both Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon have announced plans for foreign travel to resume in England and Scotland respectively, with both nations operating a traffic light system with green, amber and red lists that determine quarantine and testing requirements.

So, how will it work?

The green list will require a pre-departure test, no quarantine, a PCR test on day two. The amber list will require a pre-departure test, self-isolating at home for 10 days, PCR tests on days two and eight. (You can do a test on day five and if it’s a negative result, be released early).

A family watch planes take off from the airport during sunset
Non-essential foreign travel can resume from May 17 in England and Scotland

Finally the red list will involve a pre-departure test, followed by mandatory hotel quarantine for 10 days, as well PCR tests on days two and eight. No test and release will be available in this scenario.

The green list is obviously the most appealing to holidaymakers as it doesn’t require you to quarantine when you’re back in the UK.

England has 12 countries and territories on its green list; Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; Falkland Islands; and Israel.

For Scotland the green list is essentially the same, although it has also added Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, as well as South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

A view of a beach in Portugal on a sunny day with turquoise waters
Portugal has made it on the initial green list

More countries are expected to be announced as vaccine roll-outs rise and Covid cases fall – and take note that Scotland and England do have differing lists, so always check the rules depending on where you live.

It’s worth noting that the lists are subject to change, so if you are planning a trip you should always check the latest government updates before booking or travelling.

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If you’ve booked a holiday and a destination becomes amber, you can still go; it just means you’ll need to self-isolate home when you return.

Travel firms are offering some flexibility if the lists do change.

For example, TUI lets you amend a trip for free if a green destination becomes amber, and the same applies for an amber destination becoming red. Meanwhile, Thomas Cook has said that if a destination is amber, you can also change your holiday for free. We have a wider guide on companies’ rules for changing holidays including TUI, Jet2, easyJet, BA and more – check it out here.What about UK holidays?

Are you sticking to UK holidays this summer, or planning to go abroad? Let us know in the comments below.

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