New Covid travel rules explained: traffic light system scrapped as travel rules simplified

There are reports that the number of countries on the red list will be cut to nine from 54 later in the week

New rules to make travel to the UK from overseas easier and simpler have come into force.

The UK’s traffic light system - which involved green, amber and red lists - has been scrapped, with countries categorised as either being on the red list or not.


At a glance: 5 key points

  • Fully vaccinated residents and unvaccinated under 18s from more than 50 countries and territories can now enter the UK without needing to complete a pre-departure lateral flow test, take a day-eight post-arrival PCR or self-isolate at home. Just a single day-two post-arrival test is needed
  • There are reports the number of countries on the red list will be cut to nine from 54 later in the week
  • Countries such as Brazil, Mexico and South Africa are expected to be opened up to quarantine-free travel
  • Travellers arriving from a red tier destination will still be required to spend 11 nights at a quarantine hotel
  • Under 11s were already exempt from pre-departure Covid testing

What’s been said

“We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good, and today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses and the travel sector.

“Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than eight in 10 people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to lower the cost of testing and help the sector to continue in its recovery.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

“Things are moving in the right direction and the removal of these restrictions will make it easier and cheaper for people to travel.

“We’ve seen a good response to the announcement in terms of bookings and, given current trends, we would hope to see more countries come off the red list and further mutual recognition of vaccine status.

“There is still much to do though. This is not job done, and ministers need to keep in mind that we remain an outlier on arrivals testing for vaccinated passengers.

“In the short-term the removal of PCR testing by the October half-term week is critical, and we look forward to clarity on the start date for this as soon as possible.”

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK


As part of the travel changes, it was announced that fully vaccinated travellers arriving in England will be able to use a cheaper lateral flow test rather than a PCR version for the day-two post-arrival test.

However, no date has yet been set for when this change to testing will come into effect.

The Department for Transport said the Government “aims to have it in place for when people return from half-term breaks”.

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