Still confused about whether you will be able to travel abroad this summer, and if so where to? Join the club! Keeping up with the rules and ‘official advice’ around overseas travel can put your head in a spin pretty quickly.
The basic position for UK citizens is this – you are no longer legally banned from travelling abroad for all but a handful of ‘essential’ reasons. The strict pandemic restrictions on international travel were lifted in mid-May.
However, the government is still advising against travel to all but a very limited number of ‘green list’ countries. Since Portugal was controversially removed from this green list, it no longer includes any of the main holiday destinations most popular with Brits.
So does that mean you should just write off your prospects of a holiday in the sun this year? Not necessarily. While the government advises against travel to all but its green list countries, it’s not law.
If you’re happy to go against the advice, and to follow the re-entry requirements (10 days self-isolation at home if returning from amber list countries, 10 days in full quarantine in a government-approved hotel for red list countries), there’s nothing legally stopping you.
However, there is one other important consideration – will any country you are planning on travelling to let you in, and if so, what conditions will you have to meet?
Here’s a breakdown of the current entry requirements for four key European destinations.
As of late May, the Spanish government lifted all restrictions on UK tourists entering the country – a sign of just how important UK visitors are to the country’s giant tourist economy. That means you don’t even need to present proof of a negative PCR test, which is now more or less standard for most countries, let alone proof of your vaccination status.
You will, however, still have to complete a Health Control Form (FCS) online. Once you complete this form, you will be sent a QR code which you must present on your smartphone or tablet at border control when you arrive in Spain.
The UK’s decision to move Portugal from the green list to the amber list within two weeks of announcing the new traffic light travel advice system didn’t exactly go down well with Portuguese authorities (or British holidaymakers!), especially after Portugal included the UK on a very limited list of countries it would allow holidaymakers to travel from (basically the EU and associated Schengen area countries).
Be that as it may, Brits can still enter Portugal as tourists as long as they present proof of a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. The test results must be shown at the departure airport prior to boarding your flight. All children aged 2 and over must also be tested.
In addition to a negative test, all visitors must complete a Passenger Locator Card online form. These requirements apply to mainland Portugal only. There are no requirements to show test results or complete the locator card if travelling to Madeira or the Azores.
France relaxed its restrictions on people travelling to the country for ‘non-compelling’ reasons (i.e. for tourism and leisure) on June 9th. However, the UK was not included on the list of 38 countries covered in the new rules.
In short, that means holidays in France are still off the cards for UK residents. The only exception is if you own a holiday home in France and need to visit it for maintenance purposes, which could count as a ‘compelling reason’. Even so, you would need to have completed your vaccination course or take a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure.
UK nationals are allowed to travel to Greece on holiday, including any of the islands, provided you meet either one of two conditions – completion of a full vaccination course a minimum of 14 days before you travel, or proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. You may also be asked to take a rapid (lateral flow) COVID-19 test on arrival. If this shows positive, you will have to quarantine in a government approved hotel for 10 days before either continuing your holiday or returning home.
All entrants must also complete a Passenger Locator Form before departure.
One final thing…
In the normal course of things, travelling against FCDO travel advice would make it impossible to get travel insurance to visit a country. However, in the current climate where official advice warns against travel to the vast majority of countries, some travel insurance providers are relaxing their stance and offering special policy extensions to cover travel to amber list countries.
This post was supplied by the team at Avanti. If your travel plans are still up in the air and you’re still not sure if and when you might get away, why not buy an annual travel insurance policy which will cover you any time you do make it abroad over the course of the next year, and for multiple trips too if you should be so lucky. Click here to find out more.