International leisure travel from England no longer illegal from 17 May 2021 but strict border control measures will remain in place.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that international travel can begin to safely reopen from 17 May, allowing people to go on foreign holidays to green list countries.
The ‘Stay in the UK’ regulation will lift on 17 May, meaning leisure travel from England will no longer be illegal. However, speaking at a No10 press conference, the Transport Secretary outlined how strict border control measures will remain in place as international travel gradually resumes. Different levels of restriction will be applied to individuals returning to England from countries based on the traffic light system set out by the Global Travel Taskforce.
People are being guided on where they can safely visit without needing to quarantine on return to England – starting with the additions of Portugal including the Azores and Madeira, Israel and Jerusalem and Singapore among others to the ‘green list’. They will still need to take a pre-departure test up to 72 hours before their return travel, and a single PCR test on or before day 2 of arrival into England – this can be booked in the same way as is in place now, through private test providers.
In total, 12 countries and territories have been added to the green list. Some of these include: Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; Falkland Islands; and Israel and Jerusalem. However, many ‘green list’ countries will continue to place restrictions on UK travellers, including quarantine measures, so passengers are encouraged to check all requirements and FCDO travel advice before they book any foreign travel.
Given that the virus is still spreading in many parts of the world, people should not be travelling to amber and red countries for leisure. 10-day managed hotel quarantine requirements will remain in place for those permitted to return to England from ‘red’ countries, and quarantine at home alongside stringent testing will be required for those returning from ‘amber’ destinations.
Countries have been allocated by ministers according to the latest scientific data, so quarantine and testing requirements on return from those countries are appropriate to the risk of coronavirus and variants of concern.
The lists will be reviewed every 3 weeks, informed by public health advice, including the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s assessment of the latest data. These regular review points will allow the government to balance helping the public to understand COVID requirements when travelling to England while allowing us to constantly evaluate the risk for different countries.
The UK government will also be publishing a green watchlist in the future, to provide an indication when a country is identified as a candidate for a changing country. All measures will be kept under review and further action may be taken to protect public health.
Countries will decide whether they require proof of COVID vaccination for entry, and it is the traveller’s responsibility to check individual requirements. If needed, people in England who have both vaccine doses will be able to demonstrate their COVID vaccination status via the NHS app from 17 May. Those without access to the app can request a letter from the NHS proving their vaccination status by calling 119, from 17 May. Test results will not be stated in the app and the process for booking and presenting test results for travel remains unchanged. The government is working with the devolved administrations to ensure this facility is available to everyone across the UK.
Following the UK exit from the EU and the end of the Transition Period, UK citizens will be subject to additional checks upon entering EU countries. If travelling abroad, you need to take steps to keep safe and prepare in case things change while you are there. Check and subscribe to FCDO travel advice updates to understand the latest entry requirements and COVID 19 rules.