UK travel: Amber list scrapped as of 4am today

The UK has just scrapped its amber list for international travel
The UK has just scrapped its amber list for international travel Copyright AP Photo
By Sarah Palmer
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As of today, the UK has scrapped its amber list for international travel. What does it mean for people who want to visit?


The UK’s new, simplified rules for travel have come into effect today.

The country has previously been operating a traffic light system with red, amber and green list countries, but now a single red list will determine who is safe to travel.

When the UK government announced these changes last month, there was a surge of holiday bookings. This was welcome news to the tourism industry, which had previously criticised the government for its relatively slow return to international travel.

The new system became live at 4am on October 4.

What does the new system mean for people wanting to travel to the UK?

There have been a few significant changes to UK travel alongside the traffic light rehaul.

  • Testing rules are being eased for those arriving to the UK from non-red list countries. Fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to take a test before travelling to the UK.
  • However, the day 2 PCR test remains mandatory for all arrivals.
  • People travelling from red list countries will need to pay to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon arrival, whether vaccinated or not. This can cost up to €2,700 per person.
  • From later this month, the government has said fully vaccinated people coming to England will no longer have to take a PCR test two days after arrival, instead using a cheaper lateral flow test. No other UK nation has followed suit on this yet.

Which countries are on the UK’s red list?

The UK government has been reviewing its red list every three weeks. Currently, the countries included on the red list are:

  • Afghanistan
  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burundi
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Congo (Democratic Republic)
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Eritrea
  • Eswatini
  • Ethiopia
  • French Guiana
  • Georgia
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Indonesia
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mayotte
  • Mexico
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Réunion
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Suriname
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

You can find out more information here.

What if I travel through a red list country on my way to the UK?

At the moment, the UK government has advised that if you transit through a red list country - even in a private vehicle - you must follow the red list rules upon arrival to the UK.

Travellers must make a record of every country they travel through on their Passenger Locator Form.

What’s next for UK travel?

Industry bosses seem hopeful that the new rules will open up winter travel to and from the UK. Transport secretary Grant Shapps has advised the system will be in place "at least until the new year".

Shapps added, "We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good.”

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