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14 Mar 2022

Travel rules change: passenger locator forms and travel tests dropped for UK arrivals

We explain the new Covid travel rules which came into effect on 18 March

When entering the UK travellers no longer need to fill out a passenger locator form, quarantine, or take any Covid tests - regardless of vaccination status

Although the UK has now scrapped arrivals travel restrictions, it's still important to still check the entry requirements of the country you're travelling to, and whether it is currently accepting visitors from the UK. You may still need to take tests before or after arriving in the country, and might also need prove your vaccination status fits the country's validity rules. You can read about each country's travel rules via the FCDO's alphabetised travel advice pages.

    Read our where can I go on holiday story for the full list and advice on booking.

    Which countries are on the green list?

    All of the world's countries and territories are currently considered green.

    Green list: rules for all UK travellers

    UK arrivals no longer need to fill out a passenger locator form, test or quarantine, regardless of vaccination status.

    Which countries are on the red list?

    There are no countries on the red list at present.

    Red list: rules for all UK travellers

    Before 18 March, both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals returning from a red list country needed to take a pre-departure test and undergo a hotel quarantine for 10 days, with day 2 or 8 tests, and no tests to release. As of 18 March, these restrictions were lifted, meaning no tests, quarantine or passenger locator forms to return from a red list country.

    But it isn't just the UK's red list you need to watch out for. Other destinations have their own rules on whether or not they'll permit entry to visitors from the UK. For example,the USA only allows UK travellers who are double vaccinated, while Japan is closed to everyone expect residents.

    How does the government decide which countries are on the red or green lists?

    Destinations have been assigned their status based on a range of Covid-19 health metrics, including vaccination numbers, infection rates and prevalence of variants. But the truth is no one knows exactly how the government makes these decisions, meaning it is impossible to guess how rules may change. The varying statuses indicate the risk in each destination and which tests and quarantine periods are required.

    Read our article detailing airlines with the best flexible flight policies.

    What happens if I'm abroad and the country I'm visiting turns red?

    If it is announced while you are away that your holiday destination's status is changing to red, this is unlikely to take effect without some notice. Now that the travel restrictions in the UK have been lifted, you won't need to test, quarantine or fill out a passenger locator form if returning from a red list country, so it shouldn't affect your holiday.

    people on plane wearing masks

    What else do I need to know?

    Entry requirements: Before you book a trip do find out if the country is allowing UK residents to enter, several green rated countries, such as New Zealand don't. Other countries, such as Malta, require you to show an NHS Covid Pass as proof of being fully vaccinated.

    Covid-19 vaccine certification: You may have chosen to download and print a PDF of your proof of inoculation as a backup in case the app malfunctions. However, be aware that this needs to be dated 1 November or after. Those printed earlier may be refused in a dozen or so EU countries, including Belgium, Croatia and Czechia. A safer bet is to request a letter from the NHS as a backup in case the app fails - the letter does not have a validity date.

    If you are planning to travel to a destination where proof of vaccination is accepted, you also need to check rules on what evidence is required. The government website is a good place to check to see if they'll accept the NHS app or letter as proof.

    FCDO advice: It's essential that you check FCDO advice before travel. This advises on whether travel to a country is safe based on Covid metrics but also includes the risk of a wider range of factors in its analysis - such as civil unrest and terrorism. If you travel to a country against government advice, this could invalidate your insurance.


    Should I book a holiday?

    If you decide to book a holiday, you'll need to check which tests will be needed on your chosen travel dates and factor in the cost. As of 18 March at 4am, all arrivals restrictions for UK travellers were lifted, but you'll still need to consider the entry requirements for your destination.

    It's also important to check FCDO advice. Just because it's not on the red list, doesn't mean the FCDO advises you should travel there. Equally, just because the UK says it's safe to travel, doesn't mean that the country will let you in.

    It's best to book with a flexible provider in case things change. Jet2, Kuoni and Trailfinders are Which? Recommended Providers all have good booking policies.

    You also need to protect yourself in case the country you've booked is later moved onto the government's no-go red list - it could do so at short notice. Delayed Covid-19 test results could also prevent travellers from boarding their flights, and unless you take out travel insurance, you may lose the cost of your holiday. Once abroad you must also be prepared that if you test positive for Covid you will have to self-isolate at your destination.

    vaccine passport

    Proving you're vaccinated

    In England, the NHS app can be used as proof of vaccination status. However, check the country will accept this as valid proof before travelling. Some countries may still require proof of a negative test, check before booking.

    English residents can also request proof online or in letter form by calling 119. Read everything you need to know about using the NHS app for travel from downloading it, to creating a QR code to proving your vaccination status.

    Travellers will be responsible for making sure they have evidence of vaccination before travel. If for any reason you don't, you'll be liable for any additional test costs that are required.

    Residents in Wales can access their Digital Covid Passes for international travel online, and download or print the Pass as a PDF document. This isn't possible for Wales residents on the NHS app. Find out how you can access the Covid pass on the Welsh Government website.

    You can also request a vaccination certificate, through your local health board in writing or by phone. If you cannot access this, you can call 0300 303 5667 to request a vaccination certificate. However, it can take up to 10 working days for this to arrive.

    You can also request a vaccination certificate, through your local health board in writing or by phone. If your travel is urgent and essential, and you can't get a test in time, or quarantine to meet a country's entry requirements, you can call 0300 303 5667 to request a vaccination certificate. However, it can take up to 10 working days for this to arrive.

    Residents of Scotland can use the free NHS Scotland Covid Status App to prove they have been inoculated. It is also possible to request a printed vaccine certificate or download a PDF from the NHS inform website. Alternatively, call 0808 196 8565 if you're due to travel in the next three weeks.

    Residents of Northern Ireland can't use the NHS app. Instead you can apply for a Covid vaccination certificate online or through the COVIDCertNI app. If you cannot apply online for any reason, request a paper version by calling 0300 200 7814.

    How to use the NHS app for travel - how it works and when you need a physical certificate instead