The Traffic Light System FAQs

Helping you make sense of the traffic light system

Updated 18 November 2021

The UK’s traffic light system has now been updated to allow for a simpler way to safely take holiday.

The red, amber and green light system has now been reviewed for the UK. Rather than traffic light lists, there is now one list of ‘red’ destinations that you can’t visit on holiday. Any country not included in the red list can be travelled to, so long as they’re accepting UK visitors and the FCDO doesn’t advise against travel.

In addition, if you’ve been fully vaccinated, then you’ll no longer need to take a pre-departure test before your return to the UK. From 24 October, if you've been fully vaccinated and are returning from any country not on the red list, you'll also be able to use a lateral flow test on your second day at home, rather than a PCR test.

This is very exciting news for anyone who’s been waiting to take an escape this year or next. An array of wonderful new destinations is now available to inspire you, plus, we hope the new testing arrangements give you further confidence that you can still enjoy a relaxing holiday.

Please note that regulations may vary for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Our Travel Specialists will be able to offer further information on this.

How are the new travel rules different?

While the traffic light system was vital in helping us make a safe return to travel, the new rules make it easier to understand which destinations you can travel to and the testing or isolation requirements in place.

The previous ‘green’ and ‘amber’ lists have been merged into one ‘low risk’ category. The UK will allow travel to any of these countries – though the destination’s entry requirements and FCDO advice will also impact whether you can visit. Our Travel Specialists are here to help you understand which countries are open to UK holidaymakers.

The red list now covers any destinations that UK travellers can’t visit for a holiday. These destinations will likely also be advised against by the FCDO and won’t be accepting foreign visitors.

Testing and isolation requirements for your return to the UK from the ‘green’ list will depend on your vaccination status.

The main new difference in testing rules is that if you’re fully vaccinated, you no longer have to take a COVID-19 test in your destination before you return home to the UK. This offers a great deal of reassurance, as it reduces the worry that you may need to unexpectedly quarantine before you can leave.

Read more about the rules for each travel list below, or find out more about the tests required for travelling...

 

COVID-19 Testing for Travel FAQs

 


From 4 October, the ‘green list’ comprises any country not specified as being on the red list. Holidays to these destinations are permitted from the UK, so long as the country you’re visiting is also accepting UK visitors and the FCDO doesn’t advise against travel there.

The travel rules you’ll need to follow depend on your vaccination status.

Before You Travel

You’ll need to check the entry requirements of your chosen destination. It’s likely you’ll need to take a PCR test before your arrival. You may also be required to fill out a health declaration form, download an app or take a health check on arrival.

These requirements will vary according to your destination and your vaccination status. Different rules may also apply to children. Our Travel Specialists will ensure you have all the latest details.

This test must be a RT (real time) test which requires a clinic appointment to record the time it's taken. You can’t use an NHS home testing kit.

On Return to the UK

From 4 October, the testing and isolation requirements on your return to the UK depend on your vaccination status.

If you’ve been fully vaccinated…

  • You do need to fill out a passenger locator form 48 hours before you arrive back in the UK
  • You don’t need to take a COVID-19 test before your arrival back in the UK
  • You don’t need to immediately isolate on your return home
  • You do need to take a lateral flow test on or before your second day home

You must have waited at least 14 days since having your second vaccine before travelling for this to apply to you. You'll need to be able to show proof of your vaccination status, either through the NHS app, applying for a digital version online or requesting a letter by calling 119.

If you test positive for COVID-19 after returning home, you should follow all test and trace or isolation rules given to you.

If you’ve not been fully vaccinated…

  • You do need to fill out a passenger locator form 48 hours before you arrive back in the UK
  • You do need to take a PCR test before your arrival in the UK – this should be at least 72 hours before
  • You do need to isolate for 10 days on your return home
  • You do need to take a PCR test on or before your second day home
  • You do need to take a PCR test on the eighth day of your return

You can use the ‘test and release’ option to end your isolation on day five. This requires you to take a negative PCR test, which you’ll need to purchase yourself.

These rules apply if you’ve received no vaccination or only one dose of a vaccine. Having recovered from COVID-19 doesn’t count towards being vaccinated.


There are a number of wonderful holiday destinations that the UK is permitting travel to, including:

  • Many Caribbean islands such as Barbados, Antigua, Anguilla, St Kitts & Nevis, the British Virgin Islands and more.
  • Favourite European holiday destinations, such as Spain, Greece, France, Italy, Croatia, Cyprus and Portugal.
  • As for the rest of the world, Canada, Dubai and Mauritius are also permitted for travel from the UK

To find out more about which destinations you can travel to, please contact our Travel Specialists.


The red list of countries covers destinations that you should not travel to, unless essential. Holidays and leisure travel is not advised, and many flights, hotels and facilities are unlikely to be operating.

There are currently no destinations on the UK's red list for travel from England.


You won’t be able to travel to red list countries on holiday. If you were to travel for essential reasons, you would need to follow these rules:

Before You Travel

You’d need to check the entry requirements of your chosen destination. It’s likely you’ll need to take a PCR test before your arrival. You may also be required to fill out a health declaration form, download an app or take a health check on arrival.

These requirements will vary according to your destination and your vaccination status. Different rules may also apply to children.

This test must be a RT (real time) test which requires a clinic appointment to record the time it is taken. You can’t use an NHS home testing kit.

On Return to the UK

You would need proof of a negative PCR test taken at least 72 hours before you arrive back in the UK.

On return to the UK from a red list destination, you’d be required to spend 10 days in a specified quarantine hotel at your own expense. You should also fill out a passenger locator form at least 48 hours before you arrive back.

In addition, you would be required to take two further PCR tests on the second and eighth day of your return.

Speak to a Travel Specialist today for further advice or to start planning your next luxury holiday

01244 432 938

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Frequently Asked Questions

While these new travel rules are in place to ensure we can safely enjoy our holidays, we understand that heading abroad still feels unfamiliar to many.

We also understand that you may have questions around which destinations you can travel to, or what the red list means for your existing holiday plans.

We’ve tried to answer some commonly asked questions below. If you’d like more information, please don’t hesitate in speaking to our Travel Specialists.


You won’t be allowed to travel to any country on the red list.

If a destination is on this list, it’s also likely that the FCDO will also advise against travelling there.


At Inspiring Travel Company, Our Promise guarantee is in place as a promise to you that we’ll remain as flexible as possible.

This means that if you book a holiday which is later added to the red list, we won’t charge you any amendment fees and can offer you a full refund. As we have direct contacts and strong relationships across our resorts, we’ll do as much as we can to move your holiday should you wish to – either to a new date, or a new destination. In this case, any money you have paid will be transferred straight to your new booking.

Our Travel Specialists are keeping up to date with every change in the traffic light system and will contact you, if needed, to discuss any changes in your holiday’s status.

We’ll do our best to assist you if…

The FCDO advises against travel to your destination

Along with the traffic lights system, we’ll closely be following advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

In the case where the FCDO advises against travel to your destination, regardless of which traffic light list it is on, we’ll offer you a full refund for your holiday, should you not wish to amend your booking to a new destination.

The country you are due to travel to changes to the red list

At Inspiring Travel Company, we won’t be providing holidays to countries on the red list.

If this were to happen, it’s likely your flights and hotel would not be operating and the FCDO would advise against travelling.

If your holiday is affected by such a change, our Travel Specialists will contact you to discuss amending your holiday or providing you with a full refund.

Should your destination be placed on the red list while you’re there, we’ll help you get back home safely if your holiday can no longer go ahead.


If your holiday destination is still permitted to travel from the UK, but they themselves are not open to international travellers, it’s likely that your flight would be cancelled.

In this case, we would do our best to amend your booking or provide you with a refund if alternative options weren’t possible.


Destinations currently accepting visitors may require a negative test to allow you entry. If you test positive before you depart, you won’t be able to travel.

If you were to test positive while in your destination, you would need to follow the quarantine rules set by the country you are currently in. You and those in your travel party should not travel home if any person has tested positive.

While our Travel Specialists will do what they can to support and assist you, any additional quarantine costs will need to be covered by yourself or your travel insurer.

For this reason, it’s essential to have adequate travel insurance that covers any medical expenses or cancellation costs incurred by COVID-19.


Our Travel Specialists will have all the latest updates that affect any of our clients. We’ll let you know exactly what you need to do to travel to your destination and safely enjoy your holiday.


The NHS app will show your vaccination status. You can also apply for a letter through the NHS Helpline which will take around five days to arrive.

However, it’s important that you check you have the correct form of vaccination certification required by your holiday destination.


If you need to take a PCR test in order to travel, it’s essential that you use an approved private test provider that meets the required standards for your pre-departure or return testing.

For testing while in your holiday destination, we’ll work with our contacts to help you find trusted providers in your area.

Acceptable tests for the UK include a nucleic acid test, such as a PCR or antigen test, or a lateral flow device. Your test must be sent to an approved pharmaceutical lab to obtain results – you can’t use a home testing kit. You’ll find a list of recognised test providers on the Government website.

If you are flying to or from Heathrow Airport, PCR test centres are available there for pre-booking, too.

The result must be sent to you in either English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted.

Once you have your pre-departure test result, you may be required to show the original printed test result at the airport check-in desk. Some destinations may also require this during their immigration checks.

Your test results must include the following information:

  • Your name – which will need to match the name on your travel documents
  • Your date of birth
  • 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
  • Details of what testing device was used, or confirmation that the test was a PCR test

Of course, our Travel Specialists will be able to provide you with the specific information you need to enter your chosen holiday destination.

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