Travelling? How Does the UK Traffic Light System Work?

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions End 17th May 2021

Posted in Travel Insurance Travel Insurance, InsuraTrip, Traffic Light System, Government Advice, FCDO on 4 June 2021

The UK government has put forward its plans to slowly reopen international travel for residents of England on 17th May 2021 by removing the international travel ban that has been in place during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

These plans include the introduction of a ‘Traffic Light’ system. However, you may find this guidance confusing. Particularly with regards to what countries you can travel to, which countries are granting entry to UK tourists, and which travel advice should you follow when there is other information in place, for example from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

So, how do you know where you can travel to, and which advice do you need to follow?

Well, the golden rule is that 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. 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 our High Risk Voyager policy will be more suitable for your trip. To get a quote click here.

The Traffic Light System:

The Government traffic light system l impacts people returning to the UK and will applies rule protocols depending on whether the country visited is in the ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’ category.

Green: arrivals 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 observed and reviewed every 3 weeks. Read the latest information on Green List approved destinations here as things may change regularly.

It is worth bearing in mind 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 try and stop different variants of Covid entering the country.

Before booking your trip, confirm that the destination you plan on visiting are accepting UK tourists and review any entry requirements (such as a negative Covid test result or proof you have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19) as, unfortunately, there is no cover under InsuraTrip if you are denied entry to the country or territory you are due to travel to.

How can InsuraTrip Travel Insurance help?

Under the Traffic Light system, where a country’s traffic light status changes prior to departure, for example from Green to Amber, InsuraTrip Travel Insurance can still provide cover under the policy, unless there is a FCDO travel advisory against ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’.

Remember, it is your responsibility to adhere to the testing and quarantining requirements, so make sure you understand the requirements before you travel!

For Destinations on the Green and Amber list without an FCDO Travel Advisory, a travel insurance policy with InsuraTrip Travel Insurance, including COVID cover, may suit your needs and has the following great benefits:

  • COVID cover for Cancellation, Curtailment and Emergency Medical Expenses
  • Cancellation up to £7,500 including COVID cover if you test positive within 14 days of your intended travel date.
  • Emergency Medical Expenses up to £10,000,000
  • Baggage up to £3,000
  • End Supplier Failure up to £1,500
  • Personal Liability up to £2,000,000
  • And much, 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.

So, if you are planning on travelling this year, it’s important not to forget to buy your travel insurance. You can get an InsuraTrip Travel Insurance quote by visiting or by calling our helpful team on 01483 806 909.

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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