Government unveils 12 countries and territories on traffic light green list for 17 May return to travel

May 7, 2021

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On Friday afternoon, the Prime Minister and Transport Secretary made the announcement that the English public has been waiting on for months: Where can we go on holiday?

At a press conference, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps unveiled the plans for England’s return to international travel as of 17 May — a date originally set in February as part of the roadmap out of lockdown. Additionally, the government has announced which countries will appear at which level of its traffic light system.

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When non-essential travel is allowed to resume as of 17 May, the Global Travel Taskforce has found that 12 countries and territories and will be on the green list. They include:

Australia; Brunei; Gibraltar; Falkland Islands; Faroe Islands; Iceland; Israel; New Zealand; Portugal (including the Azores and Maderia); Singapore; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; and St Helena, Ascension, Tristan Da Cunha.

Shapps said the government is being “necessarily cautious” in the countries it has on its green list.

Additionally, as of that date, most countries will populate the amber list.

The current red list, which has been in effect since early 2021, will continue to apply to travellers coming from high-risk countries. Currently, there are 43 countries on the highest-risk red list, which requires that arrivals into England undergo a 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel.

Shapps announced on Friday that Turkey, Maldives and Nepal have been added.

Related: All 43 countries that are on the UK’s travel red list

Keep in mind that Friday’s announcement does not necessarily mean that all green-list countries are open to British tourists. The arrival country has to be willing to accept Brits, and each country will offer their own entry requirements. If you are interested in visiting a green-list country, check on its entry requirements to ensure that it will be open and accepting Brits in time for 17 May’s lifting of restrictions.

Related: England will use NHS app as digital vaccine passport for international travel

As a reminder, here’s a look at the requirements for each traffic light category, which travellers will have to abide by on their reentry to England:


  • Passenger locator form;
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 test (can be from a lateral flow device) taken in the three days before departure; and
  • Post-arrival COVID-19 test (must be a PCR test), taken on or before the second day of your return.


  • Passenger locator form;
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 test (can be from a lateral flow device) taken in the three days before departure;
  • Quarantine for 10 days at home;
  • Pre-book a COVID-19 test package to take PCR tests on days two and eight of quarantine; and
  • Eligible for Test to Release to purchase and take an additional test after five days of quarantine. If negative, you can leave quarantine early, but you must still take the day-eight test, even though you’ve left isolation.


  • Only U.K. nationals and residents are permitted to enter (no visitors);
  • Passenger locator form;
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 test (can be from a lateral flow device) taken in the three days before departure;
  • Pre-book a quarantine hotel stay through the government, starting at £1,750 for a solo adult traveller. Hotel quarantine stays include transport to and from the airport, food and drink, security at the hotel and a PCR testing package for mandatory tests on days two and eight of quarantine; and
  • Not eligible for Test to Release.

As of 17 May, travellers looking to leave England on holiday will no longer need to fill out the travel declaration form. Originally introduced earlier this year, all travellers have been required to submit a travel declaration, justifying that their reason for travel was essential.

Keep in mind that Friday’s announcement means that the devolved nations will “fall in line” with England’s.

Shapps has said previously that the government will review the countries on its green list regularly — once every three weeks. It will also implement a “watch list” for travellers to know if a country is near a move from one level to another. For example, a “green watchlist” will show if a country is at risk of moving from green to amber.

In the aftermath of the announcement, British Airways’ CEO Sean Doyle was largely supportive, though emphasized that the government should add more soon.

“What’s clear is that with high levels of vaccination in the U.K. being matched by other countries, we should see more destinations going ‘green’ before the end of June,” Doyle said. “It’s disappointing to hear that despite the stringent safeguards introduced for travel from ‘amber list’ countries, the Government is now suggesting travellers avoid these. We cannot stress more greatly that the U.K. urgently needs travel between it and other low-risk countries, like the U.S., to re-start the economy, support devastated industries and reunite loved ones.”

Featured photo by Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images.

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