Travelling Overseas: What to Know about Amber List Countries and the ‘Amber Plus’ Category?

From July 19th onwards, all fully vaccinated residents arriving in the UK from an amber list country will not have to self-isolate. Here is what to know about the amber list countries, the ‘amber plus’ category and how they mean for your travel. 

Monday, May 17th marked the date when international travels resumed for residents of England, Scotland and Wales (followed by Northern Ireland on Monday, May 24th). A traffic light system (red, amber and green) has been used to grade the countries according to their cases, variants and vaccination rates. This list of countries and territories is reviewed every 3 weeks, you can find the updated full list of countries and guidance from the Department for Transport here

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed: “We will maintain our tough border controls including the red list, and recognising the protection afforded by two doses of vaccine, we will work with the travel industry towards removing the need for fully vaccinated arrivals to isolate on return from an amber country.

Amber Travel List

Venice, Italy - Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash 

Monday, July 19th was a joyful occasion for citizens in England due to all COVID restrictions being dropped. What’s even more exciting is that from this day forward, all fully vaccinated travellers, as well as children under the age of 18, arriving in the UK from an amber list country will not have to self-isolate, which means more opportunities for international travel and new hope of a summer holiday for double-jabbed travellers. 

However, with the Beta variant, which was first found in South Africa, raising plenty of cases in France, the government has created a new category, unofficially known as ‘amber plus’, under this traffic light system - with France being the first and only country on this list at the moment. 

With more and more popular tourist destinations added to the amber list, this will be a huge breakthrough for the aviation and tourism sectors whose businesses have been pretty much frozen for the past year to begin their first steps to restore the industry. 

Travel Amber List

Amsterdam, the Netherlands - Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash

Here is what to know about the amber list countries, the ‘amber plus’ category and how they mean for your travel. 

Amber and ‘Amber Plus’ Countries: What are the Rules and What are the Differences?

From Monday, July 19th, fully vaccinated residents who are returning to the UK from amber list countries are exempt from quarantine unless they are tested positive. However, all testing requirements remain mandatory. What safety measures are required for amber list countries and how are they different from the ‘amber plus’ category? 

>> Read more: COVID-19 Travel News: When Will Flights to and from the UK Resume?

Amber List Rules

All travellers are required to take a pre-departure test 3 days before departure as well as a PCR test on or before day 2 of their return. Unvaccinated travellers must isolate themselves for 10 days and take a second PCR test on day 8. 

An extra test on day 5 can be taken with a negative result, which will allow unvaccinated travellers to test out of quarantine. The PCR test on day 8 must still be taken regardless of the result of the optional day-5 test.

Fully vaccinated travellers and children under 18 who are returning to the UK from an amber list country will not have to quarantine unless they receive a positive test result. 

Before travelling to England, all travellers must complete a passenger locator form .

‘Amber Plus’ Rules

All travellers are required to take a pre-departure test 3 days before departure as well as a PCR test on or before day 2 of their return, and must isolate themselves at home for 10 days. 

An extra test can be taken on day 5 with a negative result, which will allow unvaccinated travellers to test out of quarantine. The PCR test on day 8 must still be taken regardless of the result of the optional day-5 test.

This rule also applies for any fully vaccinated individuals who transit through an ‘amber plus’ country from either a green or amber list country to arrive in the UK. 

Before travelling to England, all travellers must complete a passenger locator form.

Amber List Countries and Territories

Akrotiri and Dhekelia

Estonia

Lithuania

San Marino

Albania

Fiji

Luxembourg

Sao Tome and Principe

Algeria

Finland

Macao

Saudi Arabia

Andorra

France*

Madagascar

Senegal

Armenia

French Polynesia

Malaysia

Serbia

Aruba

Gabon

Mali

Slovakia

Austria

The Gambia

Marshall Islands

Slovenia

Azerbaijan

Georgia

Martinique

Solomon Islands

The Bahamas

Germany

Mauritania

South Korea

Belarus

Ghana

Mauritius

South Sudan

Belgium

Greece (including islands)

Mayotte

Spain, including the Canary Islands and the Balearic islands (Formentera, Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca)

Belize

Greenland

Mexico

St Kitts and Nevis

Benin

Guadeloupe

Micronesia

St Lucia

Bhutan

Guatemala

Moldova

St Maarten

Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba

Guinea

Monaco

St Martin and St Barthélemy

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Guinea-Bissau

Montenegro

St Pierre and Miquelon

British Virgin Islands

Honduras

Morocco

St Vincent and the Grenadines

Burkina Faso

Hungary

Nauru

Sweden

Cambodia

Iran

Netherlands

Switzerland

Cameroon

Iraq

New Caledonia

Syria

Canada

Italy

Nicaragua

Tajikistan

Central African Republic

Jamaica

Niger

Thailand

Chad

Japan

Nigeria

Timor-Leste

China

Jordan

North Korea

Togo

Comoros

Kazakhstan

North Macedonia

Tonga

Congo

Kiribati

Norway

Turkmenistan

Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue

Kosovo

The Occupied Palestinian Territories

Tuvalu

Côte d’Ivoire

Kuwait

Palau

Ukraine

Curaçao

Kyrgyzstan

Papua New Guinea

United States (USA)

Cyprus

Laos

Poland

Uzbekistan

Czech Republic (Czechia)

Latvia

Portugal (including the Azores)

Vanuatu

Denmark

Lebanon

Réunion

Vietnam

Djibouti

Liberia

Romania

Wallis and Futuna

El Salvador

Libya

Russia

Western Sahara

Equatorial Guinea

Liechtenstein

Samoa

Yemen

Source: gov.uk

*Currently, France is in the ‘amber plus’ category. 

>> Read more: Can I Travel within The UK during COVID-19?

Can I Travel to an Amber List Country?

Yes. This new change has strengthened the opportunity for UK residents to travel for leisure, business and visit family purposes in an amber list country. The green list or amber list (as of July 19th) are the countries and territories that the government consider safe to travel without having to quarantine when return. However, it is important to check the entry requirements in your desired destination, which can be found on the Foreign Office’s travel advice, to see what qualifications and requirements you need to enter that country, or if the country is open to UK visitors or not.

Here is what you need to do before you book a trip overseas this summer:

  1. Check the current status of the destination country (if it’s on the green or amber list
  2. Follow the FCDO’s current advice
  3. Find out the destination’s entry requirements: proof of vaccinations, negative test results and/or quarantine on arrival. If getting vaccinated is one of the country’s entry requirements, you should check what they consider as fully vaccinated (for example, 4 weeks after your second jab to count as fully vaccinated).

amber list quarantine

Calla Mitjana, Spain - Photo by Joao Branco on Unsplash 

When Will the Amber List Countries Become Green?

Depending on the COVID situation of that country - the number of cases, new variant emerging, vaccine rates and access to genomic testing - the traffic light system list will be reviewed every 3 weeks. If an amber list country meets the safety criteria by managing to lower the cases and speed up the vaccination process without any new variant concern, it will be moved to the green list or a green watchlist by decision of the UK government. 

What should I do to protect myself against the traffic light system when booking a holiday?

Bear in mind that the traffic light system might change every 3 weeks, so your pre-planned trip might not be secured. 

Make sure you book a holiday package from a trusted and flexible provider. When booking a holiday, you should ensure that you are willing to quarantine if your desired destination’s traffic light changes (from green/amber to red) while you’re already there. 

Also check if you will be refunded if the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) adds a warning to the country that you’re travelling to. 


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