The government has added Bulgaria and Hong Kong to the green list and Croatia and Taiwan to the green watchlist from 19 July.
Destinations around the world have been assigned a green, amber or red status based on a range of Covid-19 health metrics, including vaccination numbers, infection rates and variants.
Green (and amber from 19 July or 26 July in Northern Ireland) means there’s no need to quarantine on return to England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, although you do still need to take two tests. Each UK nation maintains their own green list, although currently the lists are almost identical. The key difference is England also operates a green watchlist.
However, before rushing into booking a holiday to a green list destination, you still need to consider the country’s entry requirements. Some green list countries or territories do not currently allow leisure travel from the UK. New green list addition Hong Kong, for instance, will not allow entry to anyone from the UK. While Bulgaria has an FCDO warning against travel there meaning your insurance would be invalid should you visit.
Which countries are on the travel green list?
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Balearic Islands – currently on the green watchlist, moves to amber from 19 July
- British Antarctic Territory
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- British Virgin Islands – currently on the green watchlist, moves to amber list from 19 July
- Bulgaria – from 19 July
- Cayman Islands
- Croatia – currently on the amber list, will move to the green watchlist from 19 July
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- Hong Kong – currently on the amber list, moves to the green list from 19 July
- New Zealand
- Pitcairn Islands
- Saint Helena, Tristan de Cuna and Ascension Island
- South Georgia and Sandwich Islands
- Taiwan – currently on the amber list, moves to the green watchlist from 19 July
- Turks and Caicos Islands
Is it safe to book a holiday to a green list country?
It’s safer to book a country on the green list rather than the green watchlist. While green list country statuses are reviewed by government every three weeks, countries on the green watchlist can be downgraded to amber or red at any time.
You also need to check entry requirements before booking. For example, Australia is on our green list, but it won’t allow Brits to enter the country.
Finally, check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice. The FCDO advises against non-essential travel to most places in the world currently. The practical implication of this is that if you were to travel your travel insurance wouldn’t be valid. Currently, the FCDO doesn’t advise against non-essential travel to green list countries, but that may not always be the case when new countries are made green. If you’ve booked through a good package holiday company, you should be entitled to a refund if the FCDO advice change after you’ve booked.
Even when countries open to UK travellers, they may still require you to provide proof of a negative PCR test on arrival (or proof of two vaccine doses). Tests are an additional cost to the holiday and each country will have different requirements. Always check entry requirements and add up the additional costs of testing to see whether it’s affordable before booking. See where to get cheap Covid-19 tests for travel.
Which countries are on the travel amber list?
There are currently 149 countries on the amber list, which includes: Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mauritius, Morocco, Poland, Portugal and the Azores (but not Madeira), Spain, Sweden, Thailand and the USA. From 19 July, the Balearic Islands and British Virgin Islands will be moved to the amber list.
Can I take a holiday to countries on the amber list?
The government says it’s fine to travel to amber list countries for holidays – from 19 July in England, Scotland and Wales and 26 July in Northern Ireland.
If you are double-jabbed, you will not need to quarantine when you return home, however you will need to take a pre-departure test before coming home. You will also need to undergo a PCR test on or before day two of arriving back in the UK.
If you are not vaccinated, you’ll need to quarantine at home for a period of 10 days on your return to the UK after visiting an amber country. You’ll also need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on day two and day eight. Alternately, you can pay for an additional Test to Release on day five to end quarantine early. The majority of countries around the world are on the amber list.
Additionally, you need to consider the FCDO advice. If the FCDO advises against travelling to a specific amber country, you’ll find it very difficult to get travel insurance. You also need to consider whether the country will allow you to enter.
Later this summer, UK residents who are fully vaccinated won’t have to isolate when travelling from amber list countries, according to the government. No date has been announced.
Can I take a holiday to countries on the red list?
The government strongly advises against travel to red countries, except in ‘extreme circumstances’. You’ll need to pay for a 10-day stay at a government-managed quarantine hotel – that currently costs £1,750 for a single person. You’ll also have to pay for pre-departure testing and PCR testing on days two and eight.
If you’re abroad when the country is added to the red list, you may need to pay for a flight home before the change takes place (with airfares likely to be very high). Alternatively, you could return as planned and pay for hotel quarantine. A good package holiday provider should offer to bring you home early, but check the terms and conditions before you book.
Should a country’s status change to red before you go, you will likely be allowed to change the date/location or get a refund. But always check your tour operator’s T&Cs before you book.
Countries, including Haiti and Dominican Republic, have been added to the lengthy red list in the latest government announcement. See the full list.
Already have a holiday booked? Find out if it will go ahead or whether you should cancel your trip
What happens if I book a holiday to a green list country and it’s changed to amber?
It depends. Residents of England, Wales and Scotland who have had both Covid-19 vaccinations will be able to holiday in amber list countries without having to quarantine on their return from 19 July. Northern Ireland will also follow suit from 26 July. There’s no need therefore to try and change your trip to a green list country from those dates if vaccinated, or rush home if you are already abroad.
If the holiday destination you’ve booked does change to amber, you aren’t vaccinated and don’t want to quarantine, you aren’t legally entitled to a refund if the holiday isn’t cancelled – and it often won’t be. Almost all airlines and plenty of holiday providers are still taking people on holiday to amber list destinations. Many will allow you a date or destination change if the country changes to amber from green, but not all. These amendments, while advertised as free, are usually costly because the new dates are more expensive.
A limited number of holiday companies, such as Explore, Kuoni and Trailfinders will offer refunds if your destination is changed from green to amber or red. Better airline policies, such as that from British Airways, allows you to cancel and claim a voucher
Choose your package holiday company carefully, too. Loveholidays and On The Beach said last year that they wouldn’t offer refunds for packages if flights were still operating to a destination. Read our reviews of the best and worst holiday companies who have committed to refunds.
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