Foreign Travel from October 2021

What you need to know about foreign travel from October

Updated 24 September 2021

From 4am on Monday 4 October 2021, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will have a new, simple system for international travel. The current traffic light system which lists countries as green, amber and red will be replaced. The previous green and amber lists will become the ‘rest of the world’ or ‘non-red list’ countries and a single ‘red list’ of countries and territories will remain. Wales is yet to confirm if it will adopt the new system.

There will also be changes to the testing requirements when returning from a non-red list country, if you are fully vaccinated:

  • From 4am on Monday 4 October, you will no longer need to take a pre-departure test in the three days before you return to England or Northern Ireland.
  • From the end of October, you will no longer need to take a PCR test on day two of your arrival in England – instead you will need to take a lateral flow test (which is cheaper). If the lateral flow test is positive, you will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test at no additional cost. The aim is for this to be in place when people return from their holidays this October half-term.

No changes to testing requirements have been announced for Scotland or Wales.

In the UK, ‘fully vaccinated’ means it has been at least 14 days since you received the full course of an approved vaccine such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Janssen. You can use the NHS COVID Pass to show proof of vaccination in England, which is available via the free NHS App, as a pdf or a letter, or through the NI COVID certification service if you’re in Northern Ireland. Make sure you check what proof of vaccination your destination accepts, or if you’ll need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, by checking the entry requirements for the country you’re visiting at www.gov.uk/foreigntraveladvice. Visit the Government’s website for more information on demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status when travelling abroad.

If you’re unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, there are currently no changes to the testing or quarantine requirements. This means, if you’re arriving into the UK from a non-red list country, you will still need to take a pre-departure test, a PCR test on day two and day eight, and quarantine at home for 10 days. If you’re arriving in England, you do still have the option to use the Test to Release scheme on day five.

Arrivals into the UK from red list countries remain the same. You will still have to take a pre-departure test and pre-book a mandatory 11-night quarantine hotel package, which will include two PCR tests, taken on day two and day eight, regardless of your vaccination status.

All travellers, regardless of their vaccination status and the country they are travelling from, will still need to complete a passenger locator form any time in the 48 hours before they arrive in the UK.