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Coronavirus travel advice

Latest coronavirus travel advice: Portugal is on the UK's green list for travel, but holidays there are still off limits

Information is changing every day which can make it hard to keep up with the facts that are most relevant to you. We’re continually keeping this page up to date regarding the current coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, and what impact it might have on your travel plans. So whether you need it now, or in the near future, it’s worth a bookmark.

We strongly recommend reading the coronavirus travel advice from your local authorities and governments, such as the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), as well as the guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO). Check our weekly travel briefing for additional coronavirus travel news.

This page was last updated on 12 May 2021. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication.

Coronavirus travel: green, amber and red list countries

On 7 May, UK Transport Secretary Grant Schapps confirmed that international travel will resume from 17 May, at which point a traffic light system will be implemented, ranking foreign destinations either green, amber or red. Countries with lowest coronavirus rates and high vaccination take-up will have fewer restrictions.

  • Green: Green-listed countries will be exempt from quarantine measures, although a pre-departure PCR test and a secondary test on your return to England will be required. From 17 May, there will be 12 green list countries, including Portugal, Gibraltar and Iceland. The UK government will review the list every three weeks.
  • Amber: Holiday favourites such as France and Spain did not make the green list, and have instead been ranked amber. Arrivals from amber destinations must quarantine for 10 days and take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on days two and eight – with the option to ‘test to release’ on day five to end quarantine early.
  • Red: UK citizens returning from red list destinations will continue to be required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days on their return (see below), at their own expense and with mandatory testing on days two and eight. Non-UK citizens are not allowed to travel from these countries to England.

It is still illegal to travel overseas on holiday until 17 May, with a penalty of up to £5,000 for anyone caught attempting to do so. Everyone travelling internationally must show proof of essential travel reasons at the airport, or face being fined or sent home. Until 17 May, all UK arrivals require a negative pre-departure COVID test, and must self-isolate at home for 10 days after landing.

From 17 May, it will no longer be illegal to go on holiday, but the Department of Transport has announced that holidays to amber list countries should not be taken. Despite this, some travel operators and airlines are planning to launch holidays to amber list countries that are allowing foreign visitors, choosing to follow the advice of the FCDO instead. Visitors to those countries will have to quarantine for 10 days on their return to the UK.

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales haven’t announced their separate rules for reopening international travel but are said to be in alignment with England’s rules.

Before booking future travel, make sure your bookings are refundable in case of changes and check the entry requirements for the destination you’re travelling to. For example, countries like New Zealand and Australia are on the UK government’s green list, but the borders are strictly closed to non-residents, so holidays will not be allowed there. On the other hand, France and Spain have said they will welcome British holidaymakers from June, but the UK government has put those countries on the amber list for now.

Hotel quarantine for red list countries

Since 15 February, anyone travelling to England from 40 ‘red list’ countries has to pay £1,750 for a mandatory 10 days’ quarantine in hotels supervised by private security guards. While in quarantine, it’s compulsory to take a COVID test on days two and eight of your stay. 16 contracted hotels are available to pre-book through a dedicated government portal.

As of 23 April, international visitors who have been in India in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into the UK. Only British and Irish citizens or residents will be allowed to enter and they must stay in a government-approved quarantine facility for 10 days. Turkey, Nepal and the Maldives were added to the red list on 7 May.

All air arrivals into Scotland must now stay in a hotel quarantine and non-UK residents are banned from entering the UK from red-list countries.

There are strict penalties if you don’t comply with the new rules. Fines range from £5,000 to £10,000 for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel, and steep fines apply to anyone who doesn’t undergo COVID testing there. Anyone who attempts to hide any travel from a ‘red list’ country on their PCR form could face a £10,000 fine or 10 years in prison.

Domestic travel within the UK

As of 12 April, self-catered accommodation in England are open, meaning that domestic holidays are once again allowed. This includes camping and glamping, but you can only book with your household or support bubble. Self-catered accommodation was already open in Wales, but now domestic holidaymakers from England are allowed to travel to Wales to stay in them. Domestic travel reopened in Scotland on 26 April and local restrictions began to ease on 16 April, and restrictions begin to ease in Northern Ireland on 30 April. In response, campsites and self-catered accommodations are booking up for the summer.

COVID tests and arrival in the UK

All international arrivals to the UK now have to present a negative COVID-19 test result, obtained up to 72 hours before departure. This includes UK nationals, with the exception of hauliers, airline staff, passengers from the Common Travel Area with Ireland and children under 11.

Both LAMP and PCR tests are valid, but failure to comply results in a £500 fine, and spot checks will be carried out.

All arrivals currently have to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their test result (and quarantine in hotels if arriving from red-list countries). However, under the ‘test to release’ initiative, the 10-day quarantine period can reduce to just five days provided that you test negative for COVID-19 five days after arriving back, purchased privately.

Arrivals need to quarantine for five days and then pay to take a COVID test, either at home or a testing centre. The tests cost between £65 and £120 and results come back within 24-48 hours, so realistically the quarantine period is only reduced by a couple of days, to seven or eight.

As well as presenting a negative COVID test, it is compulsory for every arrival into the UK to fill in a passenger locator form before they enter the country. You can fill this in online. It includes your passport and travel details, UK address and booking reference number and the name of the test provider, if you’re using Test to Release. You might be fined if you haven’t filled out the form by the time you reach the UK border.

COVID vaccine news UK

On 7 December, the UK became the first western country to start rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine. Now, both the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out to the British public, starting with frontline workers and the most vulnerable groups. So far, two thirds of British adults have been vaccinated.

The coronavirus vaccine should have been made available to all by the summer. According to our research, the news of a COVID vaccine in the UK has resulted in 41% of the population feeling increased confidence in the prospect of travelling abroad within the next six months.*

*The survey for Skyscanner was carried out among 2,152 adults by AudienceNet between 27 and 29 November 2020.  

To keep an eye on which countries are open to the UK, you can visit our map with the latest travel restrictions.

Green list travel destinations

Here’s the full list of quarantine-free destinations for UK travellers:

  • Portugal
  • Israel
  • Singapore
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Brunei
  • Iceland
  • Gibraltar
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island

Latest information on coronavirus travel and flight cancellations

Countries have imposed travel restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak. Check the FCDO website for daily updates on specific destinations.

To find out about specific airline route information, as well as current coronavirus flight cancellations, rebooking or refund policies, you can find all the latest news and travel updates on their websites or check with the International Air Travel Association. While flights are being cancelled more regularly than usual, it’s likely that you won’t be entitled to a refund if your flight is not cancelled but you can’t fly due to restrictions.

Some flights are still running, although those in operation are exercising social distancing and mandatory mask wearing. Quarantine on arrival often applies as well as other measures such as temperature checks and proof of a negative COVID test. Check the entry criteria for each destination before travelling, on the IATA information page.

  1. Ryanair: Ryanair is putting on additional flights to Portugal and offers two options to change travel dates for free. If your flight gets cancelled due to coronavirus you will be given the option to rebook, request a travel voucher valid for 12 months or a refund via their refund application form. Those who choose not to fly due to FCDO rules on flights that are running will not be eligible for a refund.
  2. easyJet: easyJet Holidays will resume holidays after 17 May, with holidays to green list destinations going ahead as planned. If your destination is on the amber list for departures up to and including 30 September, you can choose to change your booking for free up to 24 hours before you’re due to travel. The airline has launched a ‘protection promise’, offering a refund guarantee for flights and holidays if they’re cancelled, or for plans that are impacted by travel bans. Flights can now be changed free of charge up to two hours before departure.
  3. Jet2: The airline has cancelled all flights and holidays until 24 June. Customers whose travel plans are affected by these cancellations will be given an automatic, full refund. If you book a holiday but need to self-isolate due to NHS Test and Trace, you can rebook to a later date for free.
  4. Wizz Air: If your flight gets cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions you will be offered a refund or credit for a future flight plus a booking incentive. You can rebook to an alternative destination provided it is not subject to travel restrictions.
  5. Emirates: If your flight is cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, you can request a refund or complete a Travel Voucher request form to re-book your flight up to 24 months later. Flights are currently suspended between the UK and Dubai.
  6. Norwegian: Norwegian Airlines is operating a limited flight schedule until further notice. If your flight is cancelled you will receive confirmation via SMS and email. You can request a refund of your unused ticket, or opt for flight credit and get an extra 20% towards a future trip. 
  7. TUI: TUI has cancelled all holidays until 16 May, with all impacted customers receiving an automatic refund or given the option to rebook. For those who are travelling, TUI has confirmed that they are offering 5-star Defaqto insurance from AXA Insurance. If your destination is put on the amber list after booking, you can rebook for free. Any previous bookings for red list countries will be refunded.
  8. KLM: Existing bookings can be rebooked free of charge for travel until 30 June 2021. Refund and rebooking options differ depending on when the flight was booked and scheduled for departure.
  9. Virgin Atlantic: If you want to change your booking for flights and holidays up to 30 April 2022, you can rebook as many times as you like for travel before 30 April 2023. If your flight is cancelled, you can apply for a refund, rebook onto a different route or date, or your ticket can be converted into a voucher valid until 30 April 2023.
  10. Vueling Airlines: You’ll receive an email from the airline if your flight is cancelled, as well as a URL to a form where you’ll be able to reschedule your flight for free or request a refund. The airline has removed all change fees from website and app bookings.
  11. British Airways: If your flight has been cancelled you will be offered a voucher to the value of your booking or a refund. Travellers can change their booking without having to pay a change fee and if you decide you don’t want to travel at all, you can cancel and receive a voucher to the same value for future travel.
  12. Finnair: Bookings made up to 31 August 2021 can be rescheduled free of charge, thanks to the airline’s Book with confidence policy. If your flight is cancelled you will be contacted by the airline to discuss rebooking or refund options, which are also available via this form. Customers travelling from Finland who book by 30 April 2021 get complimentary Corona Cover (additional coronavirus-related travel insurance).
  13. Turkish Airlines: Bookings made after 20 March 2020 can be rescheduled for free until 31 December 2021.

Have you been impacted by coronavirus flight cancellations? Get more useful advice in our article on what to do if your flight is cancelled or delayed.

Coronavirus travel FAQs

Here are four coronavirus travel need-to-knows:

What precautions should I take while travelling during the coronavirus disease outbreak?

There are a lot of practical steps you can take. Regularly wash your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand gel), avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth and stay at least two metres away from someone who is coughing or sneezing. Airlines that are in operation are enforcing social distancing, and mask-wearing is usually mandatory. Read more.

I want to cancel my travel plans due to the coronavirus. How do I do this and can I get a refund?

First of all, call the airline, hotel or online travel agent you booked with. Not sure which company you used? You’ll see their name on your bank or credit card statement as well as the email you received from them to confirm the booking. You’ll find more details, including contact information, on our help page.

My flight has been cancelled due to the coronavirus. How do I get a refund?

Call the airline or online travel agent. With so many travel plans changed, it may take longer than usual to speak to someone who can help but keep trying. If the airline or online travel agent tells you that a refund isn’t available or they’ve stopped trading, it might be worth getting in touch with your credit card company if that’s how you booked. If you have travel insurance, get in touch with your provider as well.

Will my travel insurance cover coronavirus-related flight cancellations?

It depends on your policy. Check their website or give them a call to find out more.

For more answers to commonly asked questions on coronavirus (COVID-19), click here. We have also responded to the top questions from our traveller community in a Q&A which is available here.

This page was last updated on 12 May 2021. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. However, given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis, information will vary by location and change at short notice and over time. We will do our best to keep this page up-to-date, however this cannot be guaranteed.

This page has been created for general guidance only and has not been designed for you or any specific circumstances relevant to you. It is highly recommended that you check your government’s latest travel advice before travelling or making any decisions to travel.