What’s the difference between red, amber and green list countries (when entering the UK)?

If you’re entering the UK, you may be required to quarantine or self-isolate for a period of time. What you must do, however, depends on where you’ve been for the 10 days before you arrive and where on the government’s new traffic light system the country is ranked.

Here, we explain exactly what being a red, amber or green country means and what you must do if you’ve been in any of these countries.

Red countries

If you’ve been in or through a country that’s on the red list in the 10 days before you arrive in England, you’ll only be able to enter if you are British or Irish and have residency rights. Even if you’ve been vaccinated, before travelling to the UK, you’ll need to take a Covid test, complete a passenger locator form and book a quarantine hotel package at an approved hotel which includes two tests.

Countries on the red list include Afghanistan, Argentina, Brazil, Cape Verde, Egypt, India, The Maldives, South Africa and the UAE, to name a few.

Amber countries

Whether you’ve been vaccinated or not, if you’ve been to or travelled through a country on the amber list and are arriving in England, you’ll need to take a Covid test, arrange Covid tests for day two and eight and complete a passenger locator form. These rules apply if you’ve travelled through an amber country in the 10 days before going to England.
When you arrive in England, you’ll be required to quarantine for 10 days – either at your home or accommodation – and take a Covid test on day two and eight, if you’ll still be in the UK. If you’d like to end quarantine early, you may benefit from getting a travel test package.
Amber countries currently include Austria, Belgium, China, Cyprus, France, Italy, Germany and Portugal.

Green countries

If you’ve travelled through or been to a green country within 10 days of entering England, you must take a Covid test, arrange a Covid test for day two and complete a passenger locator form – even if you’re vaccinated.

Once in England, you will need to take a Covid test on or before day two. If the result is negative, you don’t need to quarantine. However, if the NHS Test & Trace gets in touch to say that someone you’ve travelled with has tested positive, you will need to quarantine.

Green countries include Australia, the Balearic Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Malta, Madeira and New Zealand.

Travelling between all three

When you’re travelling to England, you need to follow the quarantine guidelines for the highest risk territory that you’ve been to or passed through in the last 10 days. This includes stopovers and changes.


If you’re travelling around the UK, or within Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and haven’t been outside of these areas in the past 10 days, you won’t need to take a test or quarantine. You may also be exempt from some of the Covid travel requirements depending on your job or if you’re travelling for medical or compassionate reasons.

While the above is correct at the time of writing, countries are allowed to determine their own border rules and quarantine measures. Therefore, it’s important to check the travel and entry requirements for the territory you’re visiting.

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