August 14th Update: Six countries, including Aruba, France, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, Turks and Caicos have been added to the UK 14 day quarantine list. The 6 countries join Belgium, Andorra and The Bahamas, as well as  Spain and Luxembourg as recent removals from “no need to quarantine” lists. Two new countries are now no longer required to quarantine on arrival in the UK, opening up leisure travel. 

If you think Netflix is full of drama, you need to pay more attention to the news. The UK Government became the washing machine of solutions to safely resume travel, with new ideas tossed and overturned by the minute. But now, there’s finally some clarity for travel, with an official published list of countries which won’t be subject to the 14 day quarantine upon arrival into the UK, both for returning residents and visitors.

From the days of a curious quarantine; to talks of air bridges, here’s the fresh list of 78 places, made up of countries and British Territories from which travelers will not have to quarantine when they land in the UK, and all the answers to all the questions you may inevitably have, like travel insurance.

Official: 71 Approved Destinations Without UK Quarantine, 65 No Longer Only For Essential Travel

On June 8th, 2020, the UK initiated a mandatory quarantine for any visitors and returning residents coming from abroad from virtually all destinations, in a move which effectively killed travel. It’s updated regularly, and now as of August 6th, new countries have been added. 

The move, which was highly unpopular with nearly all in the business and travel communities was said to have gone too far, and that instead, simply creating quarantine requirements for travelers returning or coming from a few select “at risk” destinations, like the USA, Brazil and Russia, would’ve been the easier approach, and enabled travel to destinations with lower rates of infection or concern.

To quell concerns from holidaymakers and business leaders alike, the UK Government then floated the idea of air bridges, which would nix the quarantine for both inbound and returning travelers coming from a small selection of mostly European destination, but then those plans were nixed too.

The now: The UK has scrapped air bridge plans, and instead, offers a list of countries where 14 days of quarantine on arrival into the UK won’t be necessary. It’s basically back to square one, but with a newly designed makeover to add clarity about where you can travel from, or return from, without quarantine on arrival into the UK, via a traffic light system. Green and orange mean go, red means quarantine.

Who does this apply to? Anyone entering the UK, including citizens, visitors, returning residents, family members and so forth. Unlike most of Europe, the UK is still accepting visitors from the United States, but anyone coming from the USA would be required to quarantine, since the country isn’t on the approved ‘quarantine free’ list below.

Stoplight System For Travel Countries

The UK has a new stoplight system with green, yellow and red countries. Those in the “green” or “orange” will be able to enter the UK without quarantine.

To make things simple, the UK Government added a dedicated web page highlighting the current countries where no quarantine will apply to returning Brits, or to visitors coming from these countries. Basically, you can travel like the old days, if you’re coming from one of these places.

It’s worth noting that the 71 destination list includes many countries where Brits, and travelers from many other nations are not currently welcomed, or may face quarantine of their own when they get there – like Singapore, or Australia. The list just means that they won’t face one when they return to the UK, or if they wish to visit the UK from any of these countries. Here’s how to know if you’re eligible to enter a country right now.

The newly published list of countries exempt from essential travel, meaning countries where leisure travel is ok, and travel insurance will once again be valid has also been published. In the latest update, Serbia and Spain were removed.

The UK has also published its highly anticipated list of “Travel Corridors” from which you won’t need to quarantine on arrival into the United Kingdom. The no quarantine policy applies to both visitors from these countries and also to UK residents returning from these selected countries, and includes…

August 14th update: All passenger arrivals from Aruba, France, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, and Turks & Caicos will need to spend 14 days in self isolated quarantine, upon entering the UK from August 15th.

You can view the latest up to date list of countries where a quarantine upon return to the UK isn’t required below…

It’s worth noting that if you’ve had to transit in a country not on this approved list, you’re still expected to isolate. In other words, if you flew from a country on the list, but had an airline stop in a country not on the list and changed planes, you’d still need to isolate.

What about all the other countries?

“Red” countries, with rates of covid-19 infection higher than the UK will still need to quarantine, and if the country you’d like to visit, or visit from, is not currently on the list, it means you can expect a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival into the UK. Here’s full details on what the 14 day quarantine entails.

When Is It OK For Brits To Travel Again, And Visitors To Arrive?

The new UK list of 71 destinations where travellers will not face quarantine upon return or entry into the UK kicked off July 10th, 2020 and is in effect until any changes are made, as they regularly are. Countries can be added or taken off the list based on a variety of factors, but any countries currently on the list are expected to stay.

Basically, you can travel any time from July 10th, 2020 or later to or from these destinations without quarantine on arrival into the UK. Since July 10th has passed, you can now travel to or from these places.

For the UK Foreign Office list of countries list where all but essential travel is no longer banned, those changes kicked in July 4th, 2020, so you can travel to those areas from that date without breaking government travel advice.

Virtually all airlines are requiring passengers to wear a mask, and we’ve got a variety of safety tips if you do plan on flying.

What About Travel Insurance For The UK Approved Country List?

Crucially, the new system eases government advice on travel to the list of 71 destinations, where essential travel only no longer applies. The Foreign Travel Office no longer states essential travel only, which will make travel insurance valid again for places on the approved list, and allow leisure travel to return. This has been a key hurdle in resuming traveler confidence.

Notably, Sweden, Russia, Brazil, Portugal, Spain and the USA are expected to be on the “red” list of countries where a mandatory quarantine will continue, which creates a significant impact on travel between key trading partners.

GSTP Take

A cynic could say that if you closed your eyes and imagined a time before covid-19, as infections increased, the UK could’ve just created a list of countries for which a mandatory quarantine, or entire travel ban would exist.

The move would’ve taken a matter of hours, rather than months, and enacted months ago could’ve done a lot of good, without spooking people about booking future travel.

Travel for the rest of the world, the majority of which had far lower rates of infection could’ve carried on as normal, but that ship has sailed, and hopefully on the good, and impressively clear news from the UK Government people will be able to travel with confidence once again. The question is: where?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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20 Comments

  1. I have to go to US , I’m American citizen , on august 7th ( businesses), I will be returning to England on august 18th. ( My family and myself are permanent residents in UK), should I find any problem at all, when I come back?? If so , I will to stay at home ( quarantine ), for how long?? Thank you.

  2. Isn’t this government led by the man who promised the Great British Public with a dazzling future beyond Brexit? The dear leader who does not like or understand criticism?

    Quod Erat Demonstrandum (in keeping with his desire to quote in Latin and Greek to the very same great public)!

  3. Majority rules remember, If you are not happy with the way the government are handling the situation, then surely the Opposition should’ve tried harder and maybe People would have voted with their pencils, they clearly they would have done everything perfectly. Those in glass houses should not throw stones. We are trying to work around this Horrendous situation and save lives. If you could do better pay your £500.00 and see how far your ideas get.

    80% of people 80% of the time.

  4. What about US passport holders who have permanent residence in the U.K. will they be able to travel to the EU countries?

  5. I work in UK and my whole family lives in Minnesota in USA. when can I go and visit them? and if I went, will I be able to come back to UK and will I need quarantine.

  6. Just a small point but this is the quarantine for people entering England, not the UK. Scotland has different requirements (still need to quarantine from Spain and Serbia). Arriving via an English airport doesn’t change the requirement for those looking for a loophole! I understand Wales and NI will also have their own requirements.

  7. Canada should be on the list. There have been very low numbers of C-19 victims here. Please don’t lump us together with the USA. We have even closed our borders to American visitors.

  8. Hi Gilbert, I’m trying to book a holiday in the Seychelles, but I have put it off when I read that we must provide a COVID-19 clean test on arrival, that was done 48 hours before the flight in order to be able to board. How are we supposed to do this ? or get it all coordinated ?
    Thank for your info

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