October 26, 2020

Coronavirus: What are the UK’s travel rules and which countries can you visit?

A girl looking at her phone in the airport (stock image) Image copyright Getty Images

Passengers entering the UK from dozens of countries no longer have to quarantine.

More than 50 countries – including many popular holiday spots – now pose ”a reduced risk” from coronavirus, the government says.

However, not all of them have ended restrictions for UK tourists when they arrive there.

Where can I go without quarantining when I get back?

The list focuses on countries in Europe, island nations around the world including the Caribbean, and countries further east – including Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.

Arrivals are exempt from quarantine if they arrive in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from:

Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Netherlands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Réunion, San Marino, Seychelles, South Korea, Spain, St Barthélemy, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Pierre and Miquelon, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Vatican City, Vietnam.

The 14 British Overseas Territories are also exempt.

The government has been advising against all but essential travel since March, but this advice has been lifted for destinations that ”no longer pose an unacceptably high risk” for British travellers.

Health measures like quarantine are set by each UK nation separately.

Wales and Northern Ireland have introduced quarantine exemptions for the same countries as England. Scotland is also allowing exemptions, although unlike the other nations does not exempt travellers from Spain, because of concerns about their rate of coronavirus.

Read more: What are your potential holiday destinations?

Which countries are not on the list?

You will still have to isolate for 14 days if you arrive back in the UK from Canada, the US and much of Central or South America.

Countries in Africa, the Middle East and most of Asia are also excluded.

Travellers from Sweden, Portugal, Russia and anywhere else not on the list will also have to quarantine.

The list will be kept under review, and if conditions worsen in an exempted country, the government says it ”will not hesitate” to reintroduce quarantine for those travellers.

Equally, further restrictions may be placed on UK travellers if its infection rate rises.

Image copyright Getty Images

What about restrictions at my destination?

Travellers leaving the UK could still face restrictions – including quarantine – when they arrive in one of the exempted countries.

About half the countries and territories on the list have restrictions for arriving UK visitors. These include:

  • Greece will not accept direct UK flights until 15 July
  • Austria requires Britons to self-isolate unless they have a recent medical certificate or test negative for coronavirus on arrival
  • New Zealand has barred almost all foreign travellers from visiting, while Australia requires an exemption visa if you are not a resident or a citizen
  • South Korea imposes a 14-day quarantine
  • Visitors to Iceland can either choose to pay for a test or go into quarantine
  • You are not allowed to enter Cyprus if you have been in the UK in the last 14 days

But these restrictions may change.

France, for example, has had a voluntary quarantine for UK travellers entering the country. This is expected to be waived now the UK has lifted its restrictions for French travellers.

What happened to air bridges and the traffic light system?

Ministers had indicated the government was considering a series of ”air bridge” agreements for quarantine-free travel between the UK and low-risk countries. These were also referred to as ”travel corridors” when including international journeys made via land and sea.

However, the government appears to have moved away from these partnerships.

A mooted “traffic light” system, to grade countries as green, amber and red depending on their level of risk, has also not materialised.