Finally, finally, FINALLY we have something resembling concrete information about when we can start travelling internationally again. In the last few days the UK government has released further details about its much anticipated traffic light system, so here’s a quick rundown of the key points, including what countries are currently in which category.

What is the traffic light system and what do the colours mean?

When the UK went into its third national lockdown at the start of 2021, pretty much all foreign travel was banned (this wasn’t the case during the first two lockdowns in 2020). The traffic light system is the government’s Metaphor Of The Moment to indicate a change in the rules.

All the world’s countries have been assigned to either the Red, Amber or Green list, and each list has certain requirements for travellers returning to the UK.

The Green list

Travellers coming from countries on the Green list need a negative pre-departure COVID test, and will be required to take another test two days after their return.

They will not need to isolate at all upon their return. Happy days.

The Amber list

Travellers entering from Amber countries will need a negative pre-departure COVID test, and further tests on days two and eight following their return.

They will need to isolate at home for 10 days.

The Red list

Travellers arriving from Red countries will need a negative pre-departure COVID test, and further tests on days two and eight.

They will need to go into managed quarantine at a hotel for 10 days, and will need to pay for their stay.

When does it come into force, and will the lights change?

The traffic light system comes into force on May 17.

From that point, the lists will be reviewed once every three weeks, with the possibility of countries being moved up or down, depending on the situation in that country.

Which countries are on the Green list?

Currently, the Green list is short, but there are hints it could be expanded significantly fairly soon. Some of the countries currently on it are:

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Iceland
  • Singapore
  • Israel

See the full list here.

So… I can go to Australia?!

Steady on. The traffic light system only applies to travellers coming back into the UK. So before booking those return flights, you’ll need to check the rules of the country you want to visit. In the case of Australia, it’s still shut to almost the whole rest of the world, including the UK.

What countries are on the Amber list?

Most countries are on the Amber list. Although the government’s OFFICIAL stance is that people shouldn’t travel to Amber countries for leisure, in reality, a lot of people are booking up holidays and accepting the 10-day isolation rule. Some of the countries designated Amber include:

  • US
  • Portugal
  • Canada
  • China
  • Thailand
  • And almost all of Europe

See the full list here.

And the Red list?

Best to avoid these countries for now, unless you can afford an additional 10 nights in a hotel on your return. Some of the countries include:

  • India
  • South Africa
  • United Arab Emirates (that’s where Dubai is, FYI)
  • Turkey
  • Brazil

See the full list here.

We’ll run an update on this post once a week from here on out. The last update was 5 May.

We’re getting there, folks!

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