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Stop, Wait, Go! The New Traffic-Light System for 2021 Holidays

Ok, so we’re a little bit excited. The UK government has released details of a much-needed traffic-light system for international travel. Countries will either be classified as green, amber or red based on several factors, including the number of people vaccinated and the rate of infection. Find out the full lists here, ahead of the resumption of international travel on 17th May. Here’s what we else we know so far:

What green, amber, red means


To return to the UK you must take a pre-departure test in-destination (type and timeframe to be confirmed) and a PCR test from a government-approved provider on days 1 or 2 of arriving back home. No quarantine is required unless you test positive.


Anyone returning from an amber country must quarantine at home, then take a PCR test on days 2 and 8 of their quarantine. The “test to release” scheme still applies – more on that here. UK residents who have had both doses of their NHS-administered vaccine are exempt from quarantine.


Return from a red country and you must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days at your own expense. You must also take PCR tests on days 2 and 8 of your hotel quarantine.

The watchlist

A ‘green watchlist’ will also be introduced to identify countries that are most at risk of moving from green to amber.

For the full list, check out our travel traffic-light page here. Statuses do not have any reference to the FCDO status for that country – this should be looked at separately if required.

Testing & what we recommend

We are working closely with RandoxQuredPreneticsCollinson Group and DiamondAir and more trusted healthcare companies to bring you PCR testing options at a competitive price. Speak to your Flight Centre Travel Consultant to find out more. You can also read our COVID-19 testing blog for more insights on requirements.


What else is coming

digital travel certification system/vaccine passport is currently in the works, with the NHS app, letter or email being used as proof of vaccinations

Digital versions of passenger locator forms

A COVID-19 charter ­­– still a work in progress, but this will set out what is required of passengers, as well as their rights while measures are in place

Book with confidence

Still worried about booking your next holiday? No worries. We’ve got your back ­– thanks to our global reach, our experts have access to all the latest, trusted information when it comes to where’s safe to travel and requirements for each destination. We’ve also added our Quarantine Protection to our booking conditions, so if your holiday changes to red, in-destination quarantine rules change, or the FCDO advice prohibits all but essential travel after you've booked with us, you can change your dates/destination for FREE, or get a full refund up to the day of travel! Plus you only need to pay a £49 deposit upfront. How's that for booking with confidence?

Be sure to check out Our Promise too for more information on how we’ll protect you and your holiday during coronavirus.

Further information

UK government’s framework announcement from 9th April 2021

Our Where’s Safe to Travel hub

Our Get Travel Ready hub

Our Traffic Light Change Policy

The Green, Amber & Red List Destinations

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) website

Written by Alexandra Cronin (Gregg)

Once a roving local news reporter and now a travel-obsessed writer/sub, I'm head-over-heels for nature, wildlife and the ocean. When I'm not getting up close to animals and sea creatures, I'm seeking out the sets of my favourite TV shows around the world. 

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