Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

New travel rules released – bad news for the unvaccinated, good news for everyone else

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

The Government has just published its latest review of the UK travel testing regime.

As per usual, this was originally published via Grant Shapps’ Twitter feed but the details are now on gov.uk here. The press release is here.

Here are the changes. If you are not fully vaccinated, I would be cancelling your travel plans because even a quick hop to Paris will still require 10 days of quarantine …..

Travel list changes

These changes only apply to England, remember, unless the devolved authorities choose to copy the English approach.

From Wednesday 22nd September:

Eight countries will be removed from the 62-strong ‘Red List’ and placed on the ‘Amber List’:

  • Bangladesh
  • Egypt
  • Kenya
  • The Maldives
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Turkey

From Monday 4th October:

The ‘Amber List’ is to be scrapped for arrivals into the UK. The only ‘named’ list will be the ‘Red List’, plus everywhere else.

‘Fit To Fly’ tests will be scrapped for passengers who were fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in the UK.

If you are not fully vaccinated you must quarantine for 10 days on your return to the UK from a non-‘Red List’ country and take Day 2 and Day 8 tests. ‘Test To Release’ will continue at Day 5 for those who wish to pay extra. You will also be required to take a ‘Fit To Fly’ test.

‘Fully vaccinated’, for the purposes above is defined as having received, for those outside the UK, EU and US vaccine programmes:

a full course of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines from a relevant public health body in Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan

Unvaccinated children will continue to be treated as fully vaccinated if travelling with fully vaccinated adults.

You will still need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form before returning to the UK.

You will still need to book and pay for a PCR ‘Day 2’ test before returning to the UK.

The hotel quarantine regime continues for people returning from ‘Red List’ countries.

From ‘later in October’ (by half term, in theory)

PCR tests dropped:

PCR testing will no longer be required on your return to the UK from a ‘Green’ country IF you are double vaccinated.

You will be still be required to take a lateral flow test within two days of returning to the UK – it is not clear if these will need to be supervised tests.

The test must still be purchased in advance and a reference number added to your Passenger Locator Form.

Transit changes:

There are plans to change the ‘Red List’ rules so that passengers can transit in those countries without triggering hotel quarantine.

This is unlikely to have any real impact given that the major transit hubs have all moved off the ‘Red List’.

Industry response

Sean Doyle, British Airways CEO, said in a statement: 

“We welcome the simplification of the traffic light system, and the changes to the testing requirements allowing UK travellers to benefit from our world-leading vaccination programme and finally giving customers and business the confidence to book the journeys they’ve been waiting for.”  

Based on the scientific evidence, with fewer than 1% of people returning from low-risk countries testing positive for Covid (lower than the UK’s rate), we urge ministers to keep this policy under review, eliminating all testing for fully vaccinated travellers as soon as possible in the future, in line with most other European countries.”

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, said:

“The overdue simplification of the Government’s rules for international travel will deliver a significant boost to consumer confidence and UK economic recovery.  

“However, to ensure that Britain’s global ambitions are met, the vaccination status of those travellers receiving a full dose in countries like India and Hong Kong must be recognised, ensuring they are able to take advantage of the simplified travel rules. Additionally, the Red list should focus purely on Variants of Concern, in order to protect public health, therefore it’s imperative to rapidly and continuously remove countries that don’t pose a threat, in order to open travel back up to countries like South Africa.

“We urge the UK Government to use the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to the USA to work with the Biden administration to remove transatlantic restrictions for UK citizens, just as the UK has done for US travellers, helping loved ones to reunite safely and businesses to restore ties with our largest trading partner. The US already allows entry for travellers from Dubai, Turkey and much of South America for example. With the high rate of vaccination in the UK – 81% of UK adults have received both jabs – there is no reason to deny UK citizens from entering the US safely, and no reason to delay.” 

Sir Tim Clarke, President of Emirates, said:

“It’s critical that the travel sector and governments across the world continue to work together to rebuild traveller confidence and today’s announcements are a hugely important step towards that. Making international travel simpler and more affordable will not only benefit those desperate to reconnect with loved ones, but will be instrumental in the recovery of the economy.”

“Since the UAE was moved to the UK’s Amber List, we’ve seen a huge surge in demand and Emirates quickly resumed operations across the UK with plans to operate 77 flights a week between the UK and Dubai by the end of October. Dubai is open and we’re ready to welcome travellers thanks to the comprehensive measures that have been put in place in the air, on the ground, and throughout Dubai. We have been working closely with partners around the world, including IATA, to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information.”

“We will continue to work with the UK to meet all of its criteria, and hope that those vaccinated in the UAE will soon be considered in the same manner as those vaccinated elsewhere.”

Comments (223)

  • BJ says:

    Codes are SHOP50 and SHOP100.

  • Zara says:

    BBC also announced the thing about children being treated as fully vaccinated but I really can’t find it anywhere else. We want to take my 13 year old nephew with us but can’t book his flight until we know for sure as the flights are now at exorbitant prices.
    If someone finds the evidence pls do share

    • Anna says:

      I can’t imagine that they would say they are doing this for the half term holiday but then make it so that children effectively can’t travel with their parents. But they have been poor at clarifying the situation around children all along.
      The problem will come when the other countries have fully vaxxed everyone over 12 but kids here will only have had one dose.

      • Nigel Hamilton says:

        This is already the case for Canada – fully vaxxed OK to enter but kids over 12 need two doses not to quarantine for 14 days, with no exception for family travel. Hoping they fix this by next summer, although the wrinkle is that my youngest will be 12 and three weeks when we fly and therefore unable to have had a double dose even if we offer them. It is totally clear on the Canadian Government website though, which is more than can be said for ours!

        • Anna says:

          But that’s the Canadian requirement, not the U.K. one, as Canada is offering vaccinations to that age group, presumably.

          • Nigel Hamilton says:

            Indeed, but means a UK family with single (or unvaxxed) vaxxed children over 11 can’t travel there at present

          • Rob says:

            Same applies to Germany.

          • Tracey says:

            Same with Israel. When they eventually let foreigners in, those over 12 will need to be double vaxxed or have recently contracted covid. Though I wouldn’t advocate an infection party!

  • WaynedP says:

    Finally booking my day 0-2 PCR test on return to UK (fully vaccinated from Amber country on 2 October) and gone with Randox and BA discount code.

    Have selected 2 tests (one for me and one for Mrs dP), but have reached Payment Page (Amex not accepted, grrr) without being given an opportunity to submit separate personal details for each of the 2 tests.

    Do I have to order twice, separately for each of us, or will I get a chance to ensure two different individualised tests after payment ? I don’t want Randox to only allow ME to use the two tests I’m ordering.

    Frustratingly, I can’t find anything in the FAQs or T&Cs for what really is a basic question facing all but solo travellers.

    • Harry T says:

      You can order tests for multiple people in one order. You just register them both separately when you actually take them.

      • WaynedP says:

        Thanks, Harry T

        So will I be able to use the same RANDX reference number for both me and my wife on our PLFs, or will Randox send me two different RANDX ref nums, one for each test ?

        • WaynedP says:

          Got it, thanks – received two different booking ref numbers, one for each passenger.

          Been holding out in the hope that today’s announcement would be good news, but South Africa still on the red list, and I still have to pay for a Day 2 PCR, so am no better off than I was yesterday 🙁

        • Rob says:

          One code per test.

  • Fenny says:

    Makes bugger all difference to my trip to Greece next week. Tests booked and paid for last weekend. At least I got a pre-return and Day 2 for less than £70 in total.

  • Louie says:

    I expect BA will reinstate the flights to Turkey it has cancelled for the next month or so. Any idea how long it might take to put them on sale?

  • Simon says:

    Do the same rules apply to non-UK residents/citizens? Is the UK effectively open for tourism to non red list countries?

    • John says:

      Yes if they have an approved vaccination from an approved country.

      Don’t understand the second question. The UK has been open for tourism TO non red list since 17 May.

      The UK was never closed for tourism FROM non red list as the Nov 2020 and 2021 lockdown restrictions did not apply to non-UK residents, albeit tourists could only go hiking and while things were closed as it would have been illegal for UK friends and family to meet them indoors (and there was no red list in March-June 2020.

      • Olu says:

        Yes but what about the countries that are not on that small approved list? What if a tourist in a non approved country took the approved vaccine are we considered vaccinated. That part was a bit unclear to me

        • Louie says:

          No. You are only considered vaccinated if you were double vaccinated more than 14 days ago with any combination of AZ, Pfizer or Moderna in one of the countries announced yesterday (Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan) or in the EU or the US.

          • Michael C says:

            Exactly – I have double-vacc. family in Sri Lanka, but makes no difference for them as their vaccinations (Indian AZ) are not approved.

    • Rob says:

      If you got your vaccine in one of the countries listed in the article.

  • DavidB says:

    Will the UK consider the India-made version of the Oxford vaccine being the same as the AstraZenica version?

    • Rich says:

      Yes of course, it always has without question. It was only certain other countries that initially played political games.

    • Mark says:

      The UK bought some batches of the Oxford/AZ vaccine from India.

      My first dose was from one of those batches, on my vaccination record it is only identifiable from the batch number.

  • Andrew says:

    So it seems Sturgeon is again emphasising the need for Scotland to be different by saying we’ll merge the green and amber lists but Scots still need to take PCR and fit to fly tests even though they are a waste of time.

    Any idea how this works if you travel amber to Edinburgh via London, or to Newcastle and then drive up?

    • Fraser says:

      Yes, clear as mud. I’m travelling from Edinburgh to Paris mid-October, all I need to get in to France is proof of vaccination, but to avoid having to get a test out there can I fly back to England instead of Scotland? Or are the rules for arriving into England only if you will stay in England? Eg should I put an English address on the passenger locator form?

      • Jill ( Kinkell) says:

        Who knows. That’s our Nicola…got to be seen as more caring than Boris. It just creates confusion with all the different approaches by the devolved administrations. Give it a couple of weeks and she’ll change the rules after she’s single handedly protected the Scots !

    • Dave says:

      If flying into England my my guess is that you use the English rules as that’s all they will be checking on arrival. Followed the English rules in the summer into Manchester with no issues before driving directly to Scotland.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.