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UK Government’s “traffic lights” for travel

UK Government's "traffic lights" for travel



September 2021: From 4 October, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to take a pre-departure test before arrival into the UK from a non-red country and later in the month, a cheaper rapid lateral flow test will replace the costly day-two PCR test.  The green and amber lists described below will also be scrapped.  Further updates coming soon.


In May 2021, the UK government launched a ‘risk-based approach’ to reopening international travel, where different travel restrictions apply to each country around the world, based on different factors including:

  • Levels of covid transmission
  • Presence of Variants of Concern
  • Local levels of testing, genomic sequencing and reporting
  • Vaccination progress

The government’s “traffic light” categories are:

Red countries        High-risk countries

Amber countries    Moderate-risk countries

Green countries     Low-risk countries

As well as fulfilling the requirements for the countries travellers plan to visit (see our Destination Information page for details) UK travellers are also expected to comply to the following rules in order to return to the UK:

Gov traffic light system

(From 19 July 2021, green-list arrival rules apply for fully vaccinated travellers, and under 18 years olds, arriving from amber-listed countries).

Before returning to the UK, all travellers will be expected to complete a Passenger Locator Form and take a covid test (antigen or PCR); then at least one PCR test once in the UK, as outlined above. Quarantine is required for non-vaccinated travellers returning from amber countries (at home) and those returning from red countries must spend two weeks in a government hotel, at the their own expense, regardless of vaccine status.

These rules also apply to countries you transit through - so if you have visited a green country but fly via an airport in an amber or red location, the amber/red rules will apply on your return to the UK.

NHS tests are not permitted for travel purposes, so travellers must source tests from an approved provider for the appropriate timings. We provide suggestions, and discounted rates for Journey Latin America’s clients, in our Travel Hub.

The good news is that from 17 May 2021 travel from the UK is no longer illegal: it is your choice whether you wish to travel based on the different UK arrival rules – but bear in mind that the UK FCDO advice continues to be relevant, as we are unable to operate a trip where the FCDO advises against non-essential travel. Our Destination Information page has all the latest country information.

The UK government will be keeping the countries under constant review and has offered assurance that, where possible, notice will be given should any country be likely to move to a more restrictive level. The team at Journey Latin America is also following this closely, so you can rely on us to provide you with the most up to date practical information to help support you with your travel plans.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like any further information.


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