The Speaker
Saturday, 2 December 2023 – 01:58

What will the rules be on international travel this summer?

The UK Government has outlined more details about travelling abroad from England this summer.

As it stands, it is currently illegal under lockdown restrictions to travel overseas for a holiday and this will be the case until at least 17 May. However, the Government has outlined plans that will raise the hopes of some people looking forward to a summer getaway. Here’s a look at the latest information following an update on the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce on 5 April…


Will I be able to travel abroad for a holiday this summer?

Probably. Under current plans, you will be able to travel abroad for leisure purposes this summer once lockdown restrictions have eased further. As the Coronavirus pandemic is though ongoing, there will likely be restrictions on where you can travel to, and you will need to self-isolate if you are travelling back from a country with a high prevalence of COVID-19.

You won’t be allowed to travel abroad from England for a holiday until at least 17 May, but this date could be later and is yet to be confirmed.


Why will there still be restrictions this summer?

The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and thousands of people are still dying from the deadly virus.

International travel poses the risk of coronavirus infections being spread to different countries. In the UK, all adults are set to be offered a vaccine against the virus by July, though it is feared that vaccines may be less effective against some variants of the virus, such as the South African variant. To prevent cases of the virus being imported and spread to other people, people travelling from some countries will need to self-isolate.

While cases of coronavirus have been falling in the UK, many countries in Europe and elsewhere still have high levels of cases and some are currently under strict lockdown measures. As such, it may not be possible to enter some countries due to their own restrictions.


When and where will I have to isolate?

The Government has said that a risk-based “traffic light system” will be used to manage restrictions on international arrivals to England this year. The system will work as follows;

  • Green – people arriving in England from countries in the green category will not need to self-isolate on their arrival
  • Amber – people arriving in England from countries in the amber category will need to self-isolate at home
  • Red – people arriving in England from countries in the red category will need to self-isolate in a government-approved quarantine hotel. You can find details about quarantine hotels here

It is expected that there will remain a requirement for pre-departure and post-arrival coronavirus tests to be taken.

It has not been confirmed which countries will be in which category, and countries may move between categories if the risks change. In deciding which category to place different countries in, the government will consider infection rates, the prevalence of variants of concern, and countries’ genomic sequencing capacity.

To enter many countries, you’ll need to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test or that you have antibodies/a vaccine protecting you from the virus. It’s possible that you might also (or instead) be required to isolate on arrival at the overseas destination you are travelling to depending on local restrictions at the time.


Will I need a vaccine passport or a negative test result in order to travel abroad?

You will need to produce some form of coronavirus documentation in order to enter many countries this summer. This documentation, which may be digital or paper-based, could verify that you have COVID-19 antibodies, that you have been vaccinated against the virus, or that you have recently tested negative for the virus.

The exact details of vaccine passports and certification documents are yet to be confirmed and it is not expected that they will be required in every country. 


Can I book a holiday now?

Bookings for overseas holidays from the UK have been open for some time and many thousands of Brits have already booked a summer getaway. 

Despite the new plans that have been announced, the UK Government is still advising against people booking international holidays at this time. As the last year has shown, the pandemic can change very quickly so it is difficult to predict how safe it will be to travel to different countries later this year.


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