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What happens if a green list country becomes amber? Your key holiday questions answered

Holidays abroad are back on the cards for Brits now that the government has finally revealed the countries on the green list – and the date when we can travel again.

Portugal, Gibraltar and Iceland are some of the tempting countries on the green list, which won’t require you to quarantine when you’re back in the UK.

It is worth noting that there are 12 destinations on the green list – but only a handful are actually open to Brits.

The green list is due to be reviewed every three weeks, but it is of course dependent on the Covid situation in both the UK and the destination. So what happens if a green country goes amber right before your trip, or if you need to self-isolate and can’t travel?

We answer some of your biggest holiday questions below…

What countries are currently on the green list?

A beach in Portugal on a sunny day
Portugal has made the green list

There are 12 countries and territories on the green list – Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; Falkland Islands; and Israel.

Portugal and Iceland are the most popular holiday destinations that have already said they will welcome Brits back for summer.

What are the rules for the three traffic light lists when coming back to the UK?

Green list: A pre-departure test, no quarantine, a PCR test on day two.

Amber list: A pre-departure test, self-isolating at home for 10 days, PCR tests on days two and eight. (You can do a test on day five and if it’s a negative result, be released early).

Red list: A pre-departure test, mandatory hotel quarantine for 10 days, PCR tests on days two and eight. No test and release.

What happens if I book a green list country but it becomes amber?

The overcrowded beach of Potamos in Epanomi during a heatwave, a beach near Thessaloniki and Halkidiki
Holidays are back on the cards for Brits

If you’ve booked a holiday and a destination becomes amber, you should still be able to go – but you’ll need to self-isolate at home when you return.

The government has said it will offer a green ‘watchlist’ to offer some warning that a country could go amber.

But of course, self-isolating at home doesn’t work for everyone – and the good news is that most travel firms are offering quite a fair bit of flexibility around this for bookings.

For example, TUI lets you amend a trip for free if a green destination goes on the watchlist or amber list, and same for an amber destination becoming red. Meanwhile, Thomas Cook has said that if a destination is amber, you can also change your holiday for free.

We’ve got a wider guide for the biggest firms’ rules including TUI, Jet2, easyJet, BA and more – check it out here.

Can I book a holiday to a destination on the amber list?

In short, yes. Non-essential travel to amber lists will be allowed, but you’ll have to self-isolate at home for 10 days. You’ll also need to take a PCR tests on day two and day eight of your self-isolation, with an option to test and release on day five.

Do I need to quarantine in a hotel if I go on holiday?

Man pulling suitcase and entering hotel room. Traveler going in to room or walking inside motel with luggage. Travel and holiday apartment rental concept.
Those returning from a red list destination will need to stay in a quarantine hotel

Not for destinations on the green and amber lists. Mandatory hotel quarantine in the UK will only be for those returning from red list destinations. As for your holiday destination, most places are welcoming back tourists with no need to quarantine as long as you can show proof of a negative PCR test or of a full Covid vaccination (both jabs) but you should always check a country’s individual requirements – you can find this in the Foreign Office travel advice.

When are more green list countries going to be announced?

The green, amber and red lists are expected to be reviewed every three weeks. If a country’s Covid case numbers fall and it has a successful vaccination programme, it’s likely to make the green list.

It’s worth noting that the three weeks is a guideline – if a country saw a surge in cases for example, it could be moved to amber or red quickly.

Do I need a Covid vaccine or test to travel?

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It depends on the destination. Countries such as Malta, Croatia, Turkey and Greece have all previously said that they would welcome back both vaccinated and unvaccinated Brits.

In some cases, you won’t need a negative PCR test if you’ve already had the full vaccine.

The rules differ depending on the destination, so make sure to check before you book a trip – you can find this information in the Foreign Office travel advice.

Regardless of destination, when you return to the UK you’ll need to take a pre-departure test, and at least one PCR test on day two (with further tests for amber and red lists).

Where can I find cheaper PCR tests?

PCR tests can be costly with prices from £120 – which very quickly adds up if you’re travelling from an amber or red list, or with multiple people.

The good news is that a number of travel companies and airlines have secured discounted tests for their customers. For example, TUI offers testing kits from £20pp for package holidays, while airlines like easyJet and Ryanair have discounted tests for £60 when you book a flight with them.

We’ve got a guide comparing travel companies’ PCR test prices to give you a helping hand.

Meanwhile, Boots has teamed up with MyHealthChecked and is selling at-home PCR tests for £65, which you can buy on and get delivered to your house. There is also an in-store Covid PCR testing service available for £99 at over 200 of its UK stores, which offers results within 48 hours.

What happens if I get Covid or need to self-isolate and can’t travel?

If you show symptoms of Covid or you’re asked to self-isolate through the NHS Test and Trace app, get in touch with your travel company or airline directly. In most cases, they will let you amend your holiday for free.

If you’re planning a holiday, travel insurance will be more important than ever – check your policy covers you for Covid-specfic scenarios.

It’s also worth checking a travel company’s offers when booking – for example, some firms such as Jet2 and TUI offer Covid-19 protection for customers.

Is there a question you want answering that’s not covered above? Let us know in the comments below.

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