From 17th May 2021, travel from the UK is permitted under the traffic light system.

To help you understand which countries you can travel to and what rules are in place, we’ll keep this page updated with as much information as possible. If you have any further questions, please feel free to speak to our Travel Specialists at any time.

What is the UK traffic light system for travel?

The traffic light system comprises three lists of countries – green, amber and red. Destinations are assigned to a list depending on their overall risk of further spreading COVID-19. Factors such as infection rates, vaccine roll-out and variants of concern all play a part in deciding which list a country will be added to.

Countries on the green list are safe to travel to without the need to quarantine. Red or amber list countries, meanwhile, are more restricted.

You can see how the traffic light system will currently work in our infographic:

Travel Light Infographic

Please note, these travel restrictions may differ for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Please speak to our Travel Specialists for more information.

What countries are in the traffic light system?

Every country will be assigned a colour in the traffic light system. However, you should also be aware of each destination’s entry requirements, too.

While a country might be on the UK’s green list, and be approved by the FCDO, it could still have its own entry restrictions in place that prevent you from visiting.

At Spectate, our Travel Specialists are keeping up to date on all travel requirements, so we can give you all the information you need to know.

How often will the travel list be reviewed?

The green, amber and red travel lists are due to be reviewed every three weeks. Any changes would come into effect one week later.

So, while a country could currently be on the amber list, it might still be moved to the green list if its risk of further spreading COVID-19 is reduced.

What countries are on the green list?

The full list of countries on the UK’s green list for travel currently includes:

  • Singapore
  • Iceland
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Gibraltar
  • Israel and Jerusalem
  • Brunei
  • Faroe Islands
  • Falkland Islands

Remember, while the UK may permit you to travel to these countries, travel will also be dependent on each country’s individual entry requirements, too.


Holidays to green list countries are permitted, so long as they are also accepting visitors.

Travellers will need to follow the below rules when leaving and returning to the UK, in addition to requirements set by their destination.

Before You Travel

You will need proof of a negative pre-departure PCR test before you leave the UK.

The amount of time you need to take your test before you travel varies according to your destination. Our Travel Specialists will ensure you have all the latest details.

This test must be a RT (real time) test which requires a clinic appointment to record the time it’s taken. You can’t use an NHS home testing kit.

On Return to the UK

You’ll need proof of a negative PCR test taken at least 72 hours before you arrive back in the UK.

Everyone over the age of 11 years will need to take this test, even if they have been vaccinated. You can’t take an NHS home testing kit with you for this. Don’t worry - we’ll help you find an approved test provider in your destination.

There is no need to immediately self-isolate on your return to the UK from a green list country.

You will, however, be required to fill out a passenger locator form at least 48 hours before you arrive and take a PCR test by day two of your return.

This test can be taken at home but must be obtained from a private test provider, not the NHS. You should book your tests well in advance to ensure they are ready for you on your return home. Children under 5 years don’t need to take this test.

If, on your second day home, your test result comes back positive, you will need to follow any self-isolation rules given to you.


As a precaution, places at most risk of being moved to the amber list will be placed on the ‘green watchlist’.

This will help when planning your holiday, as you’ll be aware that possible changes may be more likely for certain destinations.


The UK’s amber list covers countries where COVID-19 risk factors are still too high to allow them to be placed on the green list.

Countries currently on the amber list for travel from the UK includes holiday destinations such as Portugal, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Bulgaria, the Caribbean islands, the USA and Canada.

While travel to these areas will still be placed under restrictions, some of them may be moved to the green list when the system is reviewed every three weeks.


Travel to and from amber list countries from the UK comes with the following rules:

Before You Travel

You will need proof of a negative pre-departure PCR test before you leave the UK.

The amount of time you need to take your test before you travel varies according to your destination. Our Travel Specialists will ensure you have all the latest details.

This test must be a RT (real time) test which requires a clinic appointment to record the time it is taken. You can’t use an NHS home testing kit.

On Return to the UK

You’ll need proof of a negative PCR test taken at least 72 hours before you arrive back in the UK.

You can’t take an NHS home testing kit with you for this, but don’t worry - we’ll help you find an approved test provider in your destination.

You’ll also need to fill out a passenger locator form at least 48 hours before you arrive. You will then be required to self-isolate for 10 days upon your return to the UK, in your home.

In addition, you will be required to take two further PCR tests on the second and eighth day of your return.

These further tests can be taken at home but must be obtained from a private test provider, not the NHS.

If you would like to shorten your self-isolation period, you can opt to purchase an additional PCR test. You can take this on day five of your return and can then end your quarantine if you receive a negative result. This is known as the ‘Test to Release for International Travel Scheme’.

To meet all of the above testing requirements, you’ll be asked to book a travel test package in advance to ensure you have the correct tests in place before you arrive back in the UK.


The red list of countries covers destinations that you should not travel to, unless essential. Holidays and leisure travel is not advised, and many flights, hotels and facilities are unlikely to be operating.

Holiday destinations currently on the UK red list include India, South Africa, the UAE including Dubai and Oman, Maldives, Seychelles and Turkey.


You won’t be able to travel to red list countries on holiday. If you were to travel for essential reasons, you would need to follow these rules:

Before You Travel

You would need proof of a negative pre-departure PCR test before you leave the UK.

The amount of time you need to take your test before you travel varies according to your destination. Our Travel Specialists will ensure you have all the latest details.

This test must be a RT (real time) test which requires a clinic appointment to record the time it is taken. You can’t use an NHS home testing kit.

On Return to the UK

You would need proof of a negative PCR test taken at least 72 hours before you arrive back in the UK.

On return to the UK from a red list destination, you’d be required to spend 10 days in a specified quarantine hotel at your own expense. You should also fill out a passenger locator form at least 48 hours before you arrive back.

In addition, you would be required to take two further PCR tests on the second and eighth day of your return.

Unlike with amber rules, you can’t end your quarantine period early.

Frequently Asked Questions

While the traffic light system is in place to ensure that we can safely begin enjoying our holidays again, we know that travel will feel different in the coming months.

We also understand that you may have questions around which destinations you can travel to, or what the amber and red lists mean for your existing holiday plans.

We’ve tried to answer some commonly asked questions below. If you’d like more information, please don’t hesitate in speaking to our Travel Specialists.


Both the traffic light system and the FCDO currently advise against taking a holiday in a red list destination.

If you were to book a holiday to an amber list country, you would need to follow all self-isolation, quarantine and testing rules. You should also consider what restrictions are in place at your destination, such as social distancing and rules on face coverings.


At Spectate, our Book with Confidence guarantee is in place as a promise to you that we’ll remain as flexible as possible.

This means that if you book a holiday which is later added to the red list, we won’t charge you any amendment fees and can offer you a full refund. As we have direct contacts and strong relationships across our resorts, we’ll do as much as we can to move your holiday should you wish to – either to a new date, or a new destination. In this case, any money you have paid will be transferred straight to your new booking.

If you can’t commit to a new date or destination straight away, we can offer you a refund credit note for you to use at a later date. Your money will continue to be protected under the ATOL or ABTA schemes.

Our Travel Specialists are keeping up to date with every change in the traffic light system and will contact you, if needed, to discuss any changes in your holiday’s status.

We’ll do our best to assist you if…

The FCDO advises against travel to your destination

Along with the traffic lights system, we’ll closely be following advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

In the case where the FCDO advises against travel to your destination, regardless of which traffic light list it is on, we’ll offer you a full refund for your holiday, should you not wish to amend your booking to a new destination or accept a refund credit note.

The country you are due to travel to changes from amber to red

At Spectate, we won’t be providing holidays to countries on the red list.

If this were to happen, it’s likely your flights and hotel would not be operating and the FCDO would advise against travelling.

If your holiday is affected by such a change, our Travel Specialists will contact you to discuss amending your holiday, issuing a refund credit note or providing you with a full refund.

Should your destination be placed on the red list while you’re there, we’ll help you get back home safely if your holiday can no longer go ahead. However, the use of watchlists should avoid abrupt changes to a country’s status as much as possible.

The country you are due to travel to changes from green to amber

If your flights and hotel are still operating, and the FCDO does not advise against travel, your holiday can still go ahead. However, you’ll have to follow the amber list rules for travel. This means you’ll be asked to take an additional PCR test and self-isolate for 10 days on your return home.

Alternatively, if you no longer wish to travel due to amber list requirements, we can amend your booking to a new date or destination, offer you a refund credit note or give you a refund based on the costs we can recover from our suppliers.

Any cancellations or amendments for holidays that remain on the green list will be subject to our normal terms and conditions, though we aim to be as flexible as possible.


If your holiday destination is still on the UK’s green or amber list, but they themselves are not open to international travellers, it’s likely that your flight would be cancelled.

In this case, we would do our best to amend your booking, issue a refund credit note or provide you with a refund if the alternative options weren’t possible.


Destinations currently accepting visitors will require a negative test to allow you entry. If you test positive before you depart, you won’t be able to travel.

If you were to test positive while in your destination, you would need to follow the quarantine rules set by the country you are currently in. You and those in your travel party should not travel home if any person has tested positive.

While our Travel Specialists will do what they can to support and assist you, any additional quarantine costs will need to be covered by yourself or your travel insurer.

For this reason, it’s essential to have adequate travel insurance that covers any medical expenses or cancellation costs incurred by COVID-19.


Our Travel Specialists will have all the latest updates that affect any of our clients. We’ll let you know exactly what you need to do to travel to your destination and safely enjoy your holiday.


From 17th May, the NHS app will show your vaccination status. You can also apply for a letter through the NHS Helpline which will take around five days to arrive.

However, it’s important that you check you have the correct form of vaccination certification required by your holiday destination.


It’s essential that you use an approved private test provider that meets the required standards for your pre-departure and return testing.

For testing while in your holiday destination, we’ll work with our contacts to help you find trusted providers in your area.

Acceptable tests for the UK include a nucleic acid test, such as a PCR or antigen test, or a lateral flow device. Your test must be sent to an approved pharmaceutical lab to obtain results – you can’t use a home testing kit. You’ll find a list of recognised test providers on the Government website.

If you are flying to or from Heathrow Airport, PCR test centres are available there for pre-booking, too.

The result must be sent to you in either English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted.

Once you have your pre-departure test result, you may be required to show the original printed test result at the airport check-in desk. Some destinations may also require this during their immigration checks.

Your test results must include the following information:

  • Your name – which will need to match the name on your travel documents
  • Your date of birth
  • The result of the test
  • The date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
  • The name of the test provider and their contact details
  • Details of what testing device was used, or confirmation that the test was a PCR test

We understand that there’s a lot of new information to take in when taking a holiday this year. However, our Travel Specialists are here to help you every step of the way.

We’re working closely with all our partners to ensure that every client still receives the highest level of service and gets to enjoy the holiday they’ve been looking forward to.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do contact us to speak to one of our experts.

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