The best destinations you can visit from the UK without quarantine on either end
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.
Nonessential international travel has finally been permitted to resume, with the government using a traffic light system to categorise countries based on their risk level: red for high-risk destinations, amber for medium-risk destinations and green for the lowest-risk destinations.
With the traffic light system, arrivals into the U.K. from an amber or red country or territory must quarantine for 10 days — either at home if they come from an amber destination or accommodation at a government-approved hotel if they come from a red destination.
The only traffic light level that allows arrivals to skip quarantine altogether — though they must still test twice, once pre-departure and one post-arrival — is the green list.
However, if you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine on your return from an amber country, which essentially turns all amber countries green.
This opens up many dozens of destinations you can travel to without self-isolating on your return, but which of those destinations will allow you entry without any quarantine period on your arrival there?
Italy, for example, will allow Brits entry for tourism purposes, however, you will need to quarantine for five days on arrival regardless of your vaccination status.
Keep in mind that even for arrivals from the lowest-risk green destinations as well as amber arrivals if you are fully vaccinated, travellers will still need to follow the following guidelines:
- Fill out a passenger locator form prior to departure;
- Take a pre-departure COVID-19 test (can be from a lateral flow device) in the three days before departure; and
- Book a post-arrival COVID-19 test (must be a PCR test), and take it on the second day of your return.
This is a major adjustment to the U.K.’s policy for travel in 2020, which allowed travellers coming from travel corridor countries to enter England without having to test or quarantine.
But, like last year, in addition to the green list, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has also revised its advice on travel to certain countries. After advising U.K. nationals against all nonessential international travel since 5 January and the start of the third lockdown, the FCDO has changed that. Now, the office issues destination-specific advice.
While there are likely to be some discrepancies on the two lists — some countries may be deemed unsafe by the FCDO but are on the green list, and vice versa — the sweet spot lies wherein a country is shown on both lists.
And on top of the green list and the FCDO list of destinations that it deems safe to travel to, the destination has to be willing to let you in. Some countries, such as Australia, aren’t an option at all, as it’s still closed to tourism. On the other hand, some countries will welcome U.K. arrivals but will also require you to quarantine.
Here are some of your best options if you are fully vaccinated, and looking to travel without quarantine at either end.
Antigua and Barbuda
All arriving passengers in Antigua and Barbuda must have proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test using a nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab taken by a medical professional within seven days of their flight. Home tests are not permitted. Children younger than 12 are exempt from the testing requirement. There is also a required health declaration form for travellers to submit.
The Antigua and Barbuda government says that arriving passengers “may be required” to undergo additional testing for COVID-19 on arrival or at their hotel or place of lodging. Whether a traveller will need to undergo additional testing will be “determined by the Health Authorities” and will come at the expense of the traveller — $100 (about £72).
The government also says that any arriving passengers with symptoms of COVID-19 may be required to quarantine, but it will again be “determined by the Health Authorities,” and will come at the expense of the traveller — $100 (about £72) per day.
Croatia is an increasingly popular summer holiday destination following its starring role in Game Of Thrones. Croatia is currently on the green list meaning no quarantine on your return to the United Kingdom whether you are vaccinated or not.
If you have proof of vaccination you can enter Croatia with no requirement to quarantine. You will need to provide evidence of a negative antigen test no older than 48 hours, or a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours.
If you aren’t vaccinated, you’ll need a negative PCR test less than 72 hours old, or a doctor’s note saying you have recovered from the virus between 11 and 180 days before travelling.
You will need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form and submit this at least 24 hours before you arrive in Greece. This timing in not negotiable: If you have not submitted it more than 24 hours in advance you will be denied boarding.
Greece is allowing entry to U.K. travellers for tourism on presentation of a negative PCR test or proof of full vaccination, with no mandatory quarantine on arrival. Your temperature may be also checked, and you may be randomly tested on entry too.
If you are fully vaccinated (i.e. you have received two doses of an approved vaccine and it has been at least two weeks since your final dose), you will not need to formally quarantine on arrival in Iceland.
Where you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from COVID-19, you will need to have proof of your vaccine certificate either on paper or in an electronic version. Additionally, you may need to take one test on arrival.
Non-vaccinated and non-recovered Brits are not allowed to enter without quarantine at this time.
Malta is only allowing fully vaccinated Britons to enter without the need to self-isolate on arrival. Arrivals must be able to provide proof of the paper version of their NHS COVID-19 vaccination letter in order to be eligible for restriction-free travel to Malta.
“Only the paper version of the NHS Covid vaccination letter, with subject ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination confirmation: two doses received’, will be accepted, not the digital app version, nor a printout from the digital app,” the office of the deputy prime minister said.
Portugal (Madeira and The Azores)
British arrivals into Portugal must have one of the following:
- A COVID-19 PCR test taken at least 72 hours prior to boarding
- Vaccine certificate (two doses 14 days prior to entry)
- Immunity declaration that you have already had COVID-19
- EU Digital COVID Certificate (as of 1 July)
You must also complete and submit a traveller questionnaire.
If you have not been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before travel you are required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival to mainland Portugal. If you are not fully vaccinated, consider the Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores instead, as they do not have these quarantine requirements. You may have to take a test on entry to these islands if you are unvaccinated and for arrivals to Madeira, may have to quarantine for up to 12 hours while you wait for the test result.
Note that mainland Portugal remains on the U.K.’s amber list at this time, while Madeira and the Azores islands of Portugal have been moved to the green list.
Arrivals into Spain from the U.K. must present either proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test or proof of full vaccination for at least 14 days.
With proof of negative PCR test or proof of vaccination, there is no quarantine requirement.
The United Arab Emirates
If you’re looking for guaranteed sunshine and heat, you’re going to get it in spades in Dubai right now. You can expect temperatures in the 40s which might be a bit much for the average Brit, but the upside is accommodation is very cheap this time of year so you can absolutely have a five-star trip on a budget.
The United Arab Emirates was on the U.K.’s dreaded red list for some time but has now moved to the amber list.
Tourists travelling from the U.K. and arriving in Dubai and Abu Dhabi must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test which was taken no more than 72 hours before departure and present the certificate at check-in. In all circumstances, the test must be a COVID-19 PCR swab test. Other test results including antibody tests are not accepted.
Turks and Caicos
All travellers are required to have a TCI Assured Travel Authorisation in order to board their flight to Turks and Caicos. The authorisation is free and you’ll need a negative PCR test result taken within five days prior to travel, insurance that covers COVID-19 medical costs and full hospitalisation, doctors’ visits, prescriptions and air ambulance, as well as an online health screening questionnaire in order to get it.
Once you’ve been granted entry via the travel authorisation, no further COVID-19 tests are required. Children younger than 10 are exempt from the testing requirement. There is no mobile tracking app or daily health checks, and visitors are free to roam — without quarantine and restrictions — during their stay.
Ultimately, we’re seeing more and more countries and territories added to this list, which is good news for travellers.
It’s worth noting that we may see more countries allow for fewer restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers. Brits who are vaccinated can use the NHS app as a digital vaccine passport to show proof of vaccination in many countries. Along the same lines, the NHS app will also be used to be able to store proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test result for travellers who haven’t yet gotten vaccinated.
This is a situation that will likely change often. As more and more countries and territories around the world detail their plans to reopen, we will hopefully see this list grow. But it’s still more important than ever to stay updated and informed with the entry requirements for both your destination and when you return home to the U.K.
Featured photo by Westend61/Getty Images.
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