The 8 countries and territories 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.
Non-essential international travel has finally been permitted to resume, and the government is using a traffic light system in order to do so. With it, the government is categorising 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. In fact, the government recommends against travelling to amber and red destinations for leisure purposes. 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.
Therefore, when we’re looking at summer travel without quarantine, we can only focus on green lists countries. And, unfortunately, there aren’t very many of them.
When Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the first iteration of the green list on Friday 7 May, only 12 countries and territories were included on it. Then Portugal was removed. With the most recent changes, which took effect on 30 June, however, 16 countries and territories were added to the green list — including popular holiday hotspots like Madeira, the Balearic Islands and Barbados. Now, there are 27 destinations on the green list.
The government has said that it will review which countries it includes on its green list every three weeks. It will take into account a destination’s vaccination rate, infection rate, the prevalence of variants of concern and their genomic sequencing capability. The U.K. government has also implemented a “watch list” for travellers to know if a country is near a move from one level to another. For example, a “green watchlist” shows if a country is at risk of moving from green to amber.
Keep in mind that even for arrivals from the lowest-risk green destinations, 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 & Development Office has also revised its advice on travel to certain countries. After advising U.K. nationals against all non-essential 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, like Australia, don’t remain an option at all, as it’s still closed to tourism. On the other hand, some countries will let U.K. arrivals in but will also require you to quarantine.
Below, we take a look at what countries and territories will allow U.K. nationals in without quarantine and also appear on England’s green list. Overall, there aren’t many you can travel to without a quarantine on either end of the trip — and they often require a negative test or to be fully vaccinated.
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.
Spain’s Balearic Islands are now part of the green list. The Balearics include the four popular destinations of Ibiza, Menorca, Mallorca and Formentera. (Note that mainland Spain remains on the U.K.’s amber list.)
Arrivals into the Balearic Islands 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.
British Virgin Islands
On 15 June, the British Virgin Islands changed its requirements for fully vaccinated travellers. Currently, fully vaccinated persons travelling from overseas — including the U.K. — are required to provide an RT-PCR test or an approved rapid antigen test within five days of arrival, as well as proof of full vaccination.
Quarantine is no longer required for fully vaccinated travellers, and they will not need to take an additional PCR test on arrival. They will still need to pay for a BVI Gateway Traveller Authorisation Certificate at a cost of $35 (about £25).
Unvaccinated travellers and those who are partially vaccinated (i.e., have received one dose of a two-dose regimen) are subject to quarantine. Partially vaccinated travellers can enter with a negative PCR test result taken within five days of travel, proof of partial vaccination, taking a PCR or antigen test on arrival and quarantine for a period of four days. Unvaccinated travellers must quarantine for seven days and take an additional PCR test on day seven. Both groups must get a BV Gateway Certificate for $175 (about £126).
The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is welcoming U.K.-based travellers into its borders this summer. Gibraltar is welcoming Brits who have only been in green list countries in the past 10 days. Fully vaccinated travellers must submit proof on their Passenger Locator Form. They must then take a lateral flow test on arrival in Gibraltar — you can book a free test through the Gibraltar government. If you’re staying in Gibraltar longer than seven days, you must take a second test on day five.
As of 13 June, unvaccinated arrivals are required to have a pre-flight COVID-19 lateral flow test before travelling to Gibraltar. You must then also take a lateral flow test on arrival in Gibraltar — you can book a free test through the Gibraltar government. If you’re staying in Gibraltar longer than seven days, you must take a second test on day five.
Requirements differ if you’ve been in a Gibraltar-listed amber country in the past 10 days. You can find the list of country designations here.
Iceland has a rather complicated entry policy in place, and it depends if you are fully vaccinated or not to determine if you have to quarantine. 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.
If 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, on arrival, you will need to take one test and are not required to stay in quarantine but are asked to wait at your place of stay for the result (around six to 24 hours).
Non-vaccinated and non-recovered Brits are not allowed to enter without quarantine at this time.
Madeira is not subject to the same entry requirements as mainland Portugal, which requires that anyone not fully vaccinated quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
British arrivals into Madeira must have one of the following:
- 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; or
- EU Digital COVID Certificate (as of 1 July).
If you arrive in Madeira without proof of negative PCR test or vaccination status, you will be required to take a test on arrival and quarantine until the results are known (about 12 hours). You must also complete and submit a traveller questionnaire.
(Note that mainland Portugal remains on the U.K.’s amber list 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 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.
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. Having more options for summer travel as the U.K. continues to expand its green list makes for more travel options for Brits.
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 start to see this list grow.
While we know that travel will resume this summer, we also do know that it will look very different to pre-pandemic journeys. For that reason, it’s 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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