Travelling abroad? How does the UK Traffic Light system work?

COVID-19 International Travel Restrictions lifted

Posted in Travel Travel Insurance, Voyager Plus, Traffic Light System, Government Advice, FCDO on 8 June 2021

COVID-19 International Travel Restrictions lifted

The UK government has announced its strategy to gradually reopen international travel for residents of England on 17th May 2021 by removing the travel restrictions that have been in place throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic.

This strategy includes the initiation of a new ‘Traffic Light’ system. However, the guidance can be confusing and hard to follow. Particularly with regards to which destinations you can travel to, which countries are granting entry to UK tourists, and which travel advice to follow when there is another in place, such as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advisories.

First and foremost, any FCDO advice for a particular country, such as advising against ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’, will take priority over the government's traffic light system. For your information, the most recent FCDO travel advice can be viewed here:

If you are travelling against the advice of the FCDO, then you may find that a High Risk Voyager travel insurance policy will be more suitable for your needs. Get a quote here.

The Traffic Light System:

The Government traffic light system will impact travellers returning to the UK and will apply different formalities depending on whether the destination country visited is categorised as ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’ by the UK Government.

Green: arrivals into the UK will need to take a pre-departure test as well as a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test on or before day 2 of their arrival back into England but will not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) or take any further tests.

Amber: arrivals will need to take a pre-departure test and quarantine at home (i.e., ‘Self-Isolate’) for a period of 10 days. They will need to take a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 of their quarantine, with the option for Test to Release on day 5 to end self-isolation early.

Red: arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for ‘red list’ countries which include a pre-departure test, a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, and PCR testing on day 2 and 8.

To find out more about the UK Government plans to reopen international travel, visit the Government website.

The Traffic Light system is continually examined and reviewed every 3 weeks. Read the latest information on Green List approved destinations here as things may change frequently.

It is also worth considering that the UK government are currently advising travellers not to travel to Amber or Red listed countries unless it is for essential purposes, such as work, to block new variants of Covid entering the UK.

Before you book your trip, check the destination you plan on visiting is accepting UK tourists and review any entry requirements (such as a negative Covid test result or proof of vaccination against Covid-19).

How can Voyager Plus Travel Insurance help?

For Destinations on the Green, Amber and Red list without an FCDO Travel Advisory, a travel insurance policy with Voyager Plus Travel Insurance may suit your needs and has the following excellent benefits:

  • COVID cover Emergency Medical Expenses
  • Emergency Medical Expenses up to £10,000,000
  • Cancellation or Curtailment up to £10,000
  • Baggage up to £3,500
  • Missed Departure / Journey Disruption up to £1,000
  • Personal Liability up to 3,000,000
  • And much more.

For Destinations on the Green, Amber and Red list with an FCDO Travel Advisory you may want to try our High Risk Voyager Travel Insurance policy, available here.

Remember, it is your responsibility to adhere to the testing and quarantine requirements under each traffic light colour category, so make sure you understand the requirements before you travel.

So, if you are planning on travelling abroad, it’s important to ensure you're protected with a suitable and extensive travel insurance policy from Voyager Plus. You can get a Voyager Plus Travel Insurance quote by visiting or by calling our helpful team on 01483 806 680.

This article is for information and entertainment purposes only. It does not constitute advice in any way. The information provided here is correct at the time of writing however please check the latest policy wording here for the latest policy terms, conditions and exclusions.

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