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Which countries are green and can we go there?

The UK Government has confirmed the ban on foreign holidays will be lifted on 17 May, but we’ll have to quarantine when we return to England from all but 12 destinations.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced today a list of ‘green’ countries to where we can travel quarantine free, but most of them aren’t holiday destinations and some won’t let us in.

And if we do travel, we’ll still have to take at least two Covid tests to return to the UK.

Most countries – including Spain, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Cyprus and Malta have been placed on the Government’s amber list, which means you have to self-isolate at home for 10 days when you return, in addition to taking three Covid tests.

Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal have been added to the government’s red list, meaning travellers have to quarantine in a hotel when returning to England, at a cost of £1,750 per person.

The lists will be updated every two to three weeks, said Mr Shapps.


Which countries are on the green list?

Portugal has been confirmed as the only major holiday destination on the Government’s green travel list.

But Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Brunei have also made it onto the list.

The remainder are countries you’re unlikely to go on holiday, such as the Sandwich Islands and St Helena. Ascension Island, anyone?


Can I travel to green list countries?

Just because the UK Government has put a country on its green list, it doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed to travel there.

Portugal, Gibraltar, Iceland and Israel are currently not allowing British holidaymakers, but Israel said it will allow vaccinated travellers from 23 May, but they must take a group tour.

Gibraltar has also indicated it will open up to British holidaymakers and Portugal is expected to follow.

Australia, New Zealand and Singapore have given no indication when they plan to reopen to British travellers.


What are the rules on travelling to green, amber and red countries?

The UK Government has different testing and quarantine requirements for travellers returning to England from red, amber and green countries.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own rules.

When returning to England from a green country, you must take a Covid test before you leave to re-enter the UK and a PCR test on or before the second day of your return.

When returning home from amber countries, you must also take a pre-departure Covid test then self-isolate at home for up to 10 days. You also have to take a PCR test on day two and day eight, but you have the option of taking a third test, on day five, to end your quarantine early if its negative.

Returning to England from a red country means you have to pay up to £1,750 per person to quarantine in a Government-designated hotel for 10 days plus take two additional tests, with no option for early release.



Linsey McNeill

A journalist and travel writer of 35 years' standing, a once-a-week yogi, terrible skier and out-of-order mum to 2 teens. Previously Editor of, bylines also include The Telegraph, The Times, The Observer, the London Evening Standard, Which? and The South China Morning Post.

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