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Green, Amber and Red lists updated: Government announces changes from 19th July

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The Government has just announced a new set of changes to the traffic light travel system.

From Monday 19th July at 4am, the following countries and territories will be added to the Green list:

  • Hong Kong
  • Bulgaria

In addition, the following will be placed on the Green watchlist. This means that they are treated as Green list but you should be aware that they could switch to Amber at short notice:

  • Croatia
  • Taiwan

We summarise the Green List rules below.

The following move from the Green watchlist to the Amber list from 4am on 19th July:

  • Balearic Islands
  • British Virgin Islands

For the double vaccinated, this has no impact. It does impact anyone who has not been double vaccinated 14 days prior to their return to England.

From 4am on 19th July, the following will be added to the Red List:

  • Cuba
  • Indonesia
  • Myanmar
  • Sierra Leone

This applies only to England. Different rules may apply to those who live in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

These are the testing and quarantine requirements currently in place:

Green countries: You will need to take a pre-departure test (can be lateral flow) as well as a PCR test on or before day 2 of your return into England. You will not need to quarantine unless or take additional tests unless your tests come back positive.

Amber countries: You will need to take a pre-departure test before returning to England and must quarantine at home for 10 days, taking a PCR test on day 2 and day 8. You can choose to take an additional PCR test on day 5 under the optional ‘Test to Release’ scheme, which allow you to end your quarantine early.  Returnees who are double vaccinated at least 14 days before they return from an Amber country, plus any accompanying children under 18, are treated as if returning from a Green country.

Red countries: You will be subject to a 10-day quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel, with testing prior to your arrival in England as well as on day 2 and day 8. You cannot reduce your quarantine period and must pay for the hotel.

You can see the full list of countries on the Green, Amber and Red lists on this page of

Comments (100)

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  • VKZ says:

    I have been double vaccinated with the Pfizer jabs in the US (in May) but the NHS records are not updated due to my (very slow) GP service who don’t know the process. Will the vaccine card from the US showing I am double jabbed be okay while returning from Amber list?

    • Rob says:

      No. AIUI we are not recognising overseas jabs.

      • aceman says:

        wait, im in exactly the same position and was waiting until after July 19th…
        So this also means US citizens wouldnt want to come to the uk on holiday after july 19th? Does it show that anywhere?

    • The Streets says:

      My misses is in a similar position having had it in Hong Kong but doesn’t sound hopeful

    • aa123 says:

      Would this not be classed as discrimination?
      Same vaccine, coming from the same factory, if you get it in the UK you are free to skip quarantine and tests. If you get it abroad you have to quarantine and get tested.
      And government insists their decisions are backed by science…

      • Andrew says:

        The problem isn’t about not trusting vaccines given abroad, it’s to do with being able to easily verify that a person from any random country has actually had what they say they have and hasn’t just knocked up an official looking certificate in Photoshop.

        I’m sure reciprocal trust agreements will slowly be introduced but you have to remember that we’re still in the very early days of travel reopening.

        • aa123 says:

          If most EU countries presumably have the means to verify NHS travel pass, don’t see why the UK cannot verify EU covid certificates

        • Mike says:

          Precisely to prevent someone doctoring someone else’s certificate as their own is why all covid passes (NHS app, EU green certificate, etc.) come with a QR code that, when scanned, takes you to a government verification site. That’s the basis (and the whole point) of having reciprocal recognition agreements with other countries.

          No, the issue is not that the certificate may have been forged (as I say, the QR code deals with that) but entering into the necessary agreements with those other countries, which takes an inordinate amount of time.

    • Anon says:

      If you have some proof of vaccination, I seriously doubt the border force is going to force you to quarantine. If they were applying the rules in the most pedantic, jobsworth way possible then maybe but given that many of these COVID rules are about as illegal as cycling on the pavement, I’m sure you’ll be fine.

  • Peter says:

    How the hell is Turkey and the UAE still on the red list? On Sunday night I can go to a club where hardly anyone is vaccinated and nobody is wearing a mask, but if I go to Turkey I become such a danger to society that I need to be locked up in a hotel?
    Was gonna do a family holiday in Turkey with my parents flying from Germany. Turkey is on Germany’s green list!
    So far they haven’t removed ANY country from the red list ever since it was introduced!

    • Louie says:

      I don’t think anyone believes logic or sense has anything to do with it any longer.

    • 1ATL says:

      I think it’s more to do with those countries being transportation hubs to/from other countries that are on the red list. People with dual nationality and wanting to bypass the hotel quarantine in the UK could manage it quite easily and therefore cause additional waves quite quickly. That’s my understanding anyway.

    • JP-MCO says:

      It has nothing to do with science whatsoever just like the current restrictions have nothing to do with infection control. It’s fine for 60,000 people to cram into Wembley stadium without masks or social distancing or Centre Court in Wimbledon or come from red or amber list countries if they’re VIPs but you can’t have a school sports day for parents to attend. It’s inconsistencies like this that make people ignore restrictions and ultimately it will be these things that cause people to ignore rules on travel quarantine too. If it really was scientific or about infection control there would be no exemptions and no inconsistencies. To be abundantly clear I’m not an advocate of ignoring the laws enacted by any Government but the UK’s policies on COVID are so ridiculous right now that it’s no wonder people don’t listen to a word they say anymore.

    • Tracey says:

      Clubbing you would only pick up variants that are already in the UK. Fly in from a hub airport and you could bring with you any new variant!

      • JP-MCO says:

        Possibly but that assumption is predicated on the idea that all variants are somehow more harmful than the endemic strain. The UK isn’t a special case when it comes to handling the pandemic and yet the overwhelming majority of our policies seem diametrically opposite to those employed by Governments around the world. You have to ask the question why the US Government (and CDC) don’t require fully vaccinated US citizens to quarantine when they re-enter the country or why they don’t have a chaotic traffic light system like the UK? Nor do they require overpriced testing packages. Also, I don’t subscribe to the theory that you’re more likely to pick up an infection in a country with lower infection rates just because you’re on holiday. It is nonsensical and not at all grounded in science. I’m all for turning off travel to a country when infection is spiralling out of control but none of the recent additions meet that criteria. They promised a system that was better than last year but if anything it’s worse. Allowing fully vaccinated individuals to sidestep quarantine from Amber list countries is a mere sticking plaster – there will be a great hesitancy to use it for fear of a shift to the red list for literally no reason. If they carry on as they’re going our travel sector will be dead within the next 6 months.

        • Andrew says:

          Travel restrictions, and restrictions in general, are in place because they’re popular. That’s not entirely unreasonable given the fearful headlines we’ve been fed over the last 16 months. The government sending the message “things are really dangerous but we’re keeping you safe” has lead to unprecedented levels of support for a government who’ve been in power this long. Just look at the recent outcry over trying to move to a “it’s time for you to take care of yourselves” message.

    • ADS says:

      “So far they haven’t removed ANY country from the red list ever since it was introduced!”

      Mauritius was removed

      And to be fair, England’s red list is actually smaller than some other countries – less on, less to come off.

      • Anon says:

        Portugal has gone from amber to red to amber then green then amber again.

  • Sam says:

    Non-Hong Kong residents are not permitted to enter Hong Kong SAR, Hong Kong residents (including citizens) who have stayed in the UK for more than two hours in the last 21 days are not admitted entries to Hong Kong. All passenger flights from the UK to Hong Kong are currently suspended until further notice. Yet we have another 40k new case in one single day today. Bravo.

    • Lord Doncaster says:

      What’s your point?

      • 1ATL says:

        That adding HK to the green list is effectively a pointless exercise as those who can benefit from this revelation can probably be counted on one hand.

        • roberto says:

          A potential 3,000,000 HK citizens with British passports may disagree….

          • 1ATL says:


            I was thinking about this from a UK citizens perspective. You are absolutely correct and this and it goes hand in hand with the UK Government stance on on providing UK subject passport holders settled route towards UK citizenship. Although out of a potential 2.9 million eligible to pursue this opportunity over the next 5yrs the anticipated figure is anticipated to be closer to 300,000.

    • John says:

      Not strictly true, tourists are allowed from Australia and New Zealand (but Australian citizens are not allowed to go on holiday from Australia, unless they are moving country for more than 3 months so could in theory stop in HK – but still need to hotel quarantine for 7 days even if vaccinated)

  • David A says:

    We’re currently in the US. I’m British; my wife is American. I’m double-vaxxed in the UK (AZ) and can enter without quarantine after showing my NHS app, but she must endure (again) 10 days isolation, tests, etc etc etc because she was double-vaxxed in the US (Pfizer).
    Totally incomprehensible, pathetic policy.

    • N says:

      this actually raises my blood pressure slightly! doesn’t make any sense, but i guess these are all being used as deterrents to come to the UK…

  • N says:

    thanks for this Rob – however when you say that the pre-departure tests can be lateral flow, I’m not sure that is the case. if you are returning to the UK at the end of your holiday, the advice seems to say that you need to be able to get a test from a private provider and show evidence of a negative test in the form of a printed document or text message
    i don’t think you can get this with a lateral flow test?

    • Rob says:

      Are Qured lateral flow? I tend to use the phrase lateral flow to describe anything which is not PCR.

    • Yvo says:

      I’m returning from Ibiza on Monday and my understanding is a local test is fine, we (UK) do accept LF with a certificate and they are €30 here.

      • Yvo says:

        “Type of test
        You must make sure that the test provider you choose can meet the standards for pre-departure testing.

        The test must meet performance standards of ≥97% specificity, ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml.

        This could include tests such as:

        a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests
        an antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device“

        • N says:

          that’s good. so it’s just a matter of getting a lateral flow test from a provider that can give a certificate. the NHS-provided tests won’t work. i’m sure the lateral flow ones are probably cheaper than some of the other ones though

      • 1ATL says:

        Just make sure the certificate is in English or one of the other permitted languages. As far as I’m aware Spanish isn’t one of them.

        • 1ATL says:

          Ignore – Spanish is one of the permitted languages.

          Information that the test result must include
          Your test result must be in either English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted.

          You must provide the original test result notification. It must include the following information:

          your name, which should match the name on your travel documents
          your date of birth or age
          the result of the test
          the date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
          the name of the test provider and their contact details
          confirmation of the device used for the test, or that the test was a PCR test

  • Anon says:

    To those who have travelled, to what extent are all these travel bans, quarantines and certification requirements really being enforced and who’s doing the enforcing? Not only on arrival in the UK but everywhere?

    I went to Italy and while there were several forms and certificates that were needed, the border official didn’t seem interested in anything other than my passport. The airline checked that I had the forms although they didn’t really look at them.

    Are the airlines stopping people from flying? Are border officials turning people away or handing out fines?

  • Christopher Clark says:

    Chris Why is Kenya on the red list of countries. I have very close friends and lived and worked there for five years.

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