Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update

27 July 2021

Article: 55/3001

Travel restrictions and self-isolation (quarantine) rules continue to be enforced in order to help reduce the global spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of the UK public. Within the UK, information on the easing of coronavirus restrictions has been published for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A cautious approach to resuming international travel has been underway for people living in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland since late spring 2021. Travelling abroad carries a risk of bringing new cases and variants of COVID-19 back into the UK, therefore travellers are still advised to consider whether their trip abroad is necessary before booking travel. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) continue to advise against non-essential international travel to some countries, and further advise against international cruise ship travel.

A traffic light system which categorises countries on to a red, amber or green list, based on their COVID-19 risk, is in place for travellers arriving into the UK. It should be noted that the traffic light system does not indicate which countries are currently allowing UK travellers to enter their country.

Currently, anyone entering Scotland from countries on the international travel green list will not be required to quarantine on arrival, but will have to take a PCR test for COVID-19 and complete a passenger locator form. On 19 July 2021, Scotland, England and Wales updated their rules for returning to the UK from amber list countries, while on 26 July 2021, changes to the rules in Northern Ireland came into effect. 

On return to the UK, travellers should be aware that testing and quarantine rules differ for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Prior to their journey, travellers must ensure they are able to comply with the rules appropriate to the UK nation they will be arriving in and reside in, if different.

Country specific COVID-19 risk

The fitfortravel (for the general public) and TRAVAX (for health professionals) country pages have been updated to include a COVID-19 country specific risk-rating, with every country being identified as high, moderate or low risk and each rating accompanied by appropriate travel advice. This information will be listed in the ‘Alerts’ section on each country page of fitfortravel and the 'Emerging Health Risks' section of every TRAVAX country page. This risk-rating is based on a robust public health assessment of the COVID-19 risks for travellers to each country and is regularly reviewed.

Since 15 July 2021, the COVID-19 risk to UK travellers has been increased in: 

  • British Virgin Islands 
  • Cuba 
  • Fiji 
  • Portugal (Madeira) 
  • Spain (Canary Islands)

Advice for travellers

Prior to booking any international travel, travellers must first check if the country they are travelling to is currently accepting UK travellers. 

Each country or territory on the FCDO foreign travel advice page provides up-to-date information on their entry rules, in response to coronavirus (COVID-19), under the ‘Entry Requirements’ section. 

Travellers should be aware that some countries or territories may require proof of COVID-19 vaccination status for entry. Guidance for demonstrating COVID-19 vaccination status is available for those living in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It is advised that travellers are aware of all travel restrictions, self-isolation rules and precautions they should take, in order to reduce their risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) before, during and after travel, as detailed on the fitfortravel website.

Sources: TRAVAX, 30 June 2021 and TRAVAX, 15 July 2021