What do amber countries mean for travel?

Can you travel to a country on the amber list when international travel resumes? We take a look at the amber list of countries and what it means for travel.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

Woman traveller walking alone with suitcase bag.

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With international travel set to resume on 17 May 2021, the government has implemented a traffic light system to ensure the return of international travel doesn’t cause spikes in Covid-19 cases. The traffic light system features red, amber and green list countries. We take a look at the list of amber countries and what it means for travel.


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What does it mean if a country is on the amber list?

To help classify countries on the red, amber or green list, the UK government assesses various factors. They include the infection rate, the emergence of new variants and the proportion of the country’s population that has been vaccinated. The government may also check whether the country has access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Amber list countries may have moderate infection rates and access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing. It might also mean that a good proportion of the country’s population is vaccinated and there aren’t cases of new variants.

If you’ve been in or through an amber list country or territory in the 10 days before you arrive in England and have not visited a country on the red list, you must follow the amber list rules.

The amber list rules require that you:

The day 2 Covid test should be taken on or before day 2 after you arrive in England, while the day 8 Covid test should be taken on or after day 8.


Which countries are on the amber list UK?

Most of Europe has made the amber list. However, some countries are set to move to the green list at 4am on Monday 17 May 2021. This will leave more than 100 countries on the amber list, including Spain, Greece and France. You can see the complete amber list on the gov.uk website.

It’s important to note that amber countries can be moved from the amber list to the green or red lists. The government plans to review the red, amber and green lists every three weeks and move countries accordingly. The government also recommends that you sign up for email alerts for notifications when changes occur.

Can I travel to a country on the amber list?

The government warns against travelling to amber countries or territories, especially for leisure. However, it’s not illegal to travel to these countries when holiday travel resumes on 17 May. Additionally, you may need to check whether the country you intend to visit accepts visitors.

That said, foreign holidays may not be that straightforward this summer. For example, online travel agency On The Beach claims that because of the uncertainty surrounding international travel, it has suspended sales of holidays until September. This includes holidays to both green list and amber list countries. 

Other travel agencies like EasyJet and Tui are already planning to offer holidays to amber countries for leisure. EasyJet commented that it would leave it to people to make up their own minds about their holiday.

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