Foreign Travel Update: Everything we know

The current traffic light system is being withdrawn for simpler foreign travel rules from 4 October. Keep an eye on this article for regular updates on the latest changes to UK’s foreign travel policies.

Last updated: 12/09/2021

Although foreign travel is now more accessible than it has been in a while, the pandemic is far from over. As such, there are plenty of restrictions still in place for overseas travel.

Taking into account the tremendous progress made by the vaccination programme, the UK’s foreign travel system saw a major shakeup to the rules on 4 October 2021.

What are the new travel rules from 4 October?

With the traffic light system replaced with a simpler two-tier system, the countries around the world are now divided into the following categories: red list countries and the rest of the world (non-red list countries).

The rules for travelling to and back from countries on the red list are the same for everyone regardless of vaccination status. However, the rules for travelling to the rest of the world varies according to the travellers’ vaccination status.

VIVO Clinic’s foreign travel information portal has incorporated the new changes to foreign travel rules into its intuitive system. You can search through countries according to their COVID-19 designation (red list or not) and the travellers’ vaccination status for information about on entry requirements.

As for the current travel rules, we have them listed here.

What are the current foreign travel rules?

Travelling to red list countries

Countries on the red list are ones that the UK government advises everyone to refrain from visiting unless absolutely necessary.

With the new changes to the overall foreign travel structure, the number of countries on the red list has been dramatically reduced. The countries on the red list now are:

  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Haiti
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Venezuela

Anyone who has visited any of the countries in this category in the past 10 days will not be allowed to travel to the UK. Only UK or Irish nationals, and UK residents may travel to the UK from red list countries.

Given the conditions are met, when a person travels from a red list country to the UK, they must:

  • Take a pre-travel COVID-19 test 72 hours before departing for the UK,
  • Self-isolate for 10 days at a quarantine hotel approved by the government (the arrangements must be made before travelling to the UK via the government’s website)
  • Take Day 2 and Day 8 PCR tests on arrival to the UK
  • Complete the passenger locator form prior to arrival in the UK

These rules will apply to the travellers coming to the UK from red list countries whether they have had the full dose of their COVID-19 vaccines or not.

The hotel quarantine rates are as follows:

  • Single adult for 10 days – £2,285
  • Accompanying adult (aged 12 and over) – £1,430
  • Accompanying children (ages between 5 and 11) – £325

Read more: What to do if you cannot afford hotel quarantine

Travelling to non-red list countries (rest of the world)

Although visiting the rest of the world is less restrictive compared to the red list countries, the rules are vastly different for travellers who are fully vaccinated and those who are not.

Fully vaccinated travellers

Fully vaccinated travellers returning to the UK from non-red list countries are no longer required to take a PCR test prior to travel. Nor do they have to self-isolate on return arrival in the UK.

However, they must still take the Day 2 PCR test within two days of arrival.

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers

Travellers who have not been vaccinated or are partially vaccinated will be subject to the same restrictions that used to apply to amber list country returnees.

When travellers who are not fully vaccinated return to the UK from non-red list countries, they must:

Unvaccinated travellers who self-isolate in England can still use the government’s Test to Release scheme to shorten their mandatory quarantine periods.

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Read more: Can the NHS antigen tests be used for travel?


The UK’s current and ongoing foreign travel rules are meant to streamline the precautionary steps associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and thus, under constant review and revised accordingly. We will update this page whenever new rules are introduced, or existing ones are updated.



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