Post-Covid travel is now less testing as the rules get simpler

With the scrapping of the amber and green travel lists, the rules governing re-entry to the UK have finally been simplified.

Travel is finally becoming easier. The government has scrapped the amber and green travel lists in favour of a binary system that sees countries classed as either “red” or “rest of world”. Only seven destinations, all in Central and South America, are on the new red list. The changes mean that it is possible to get travel insurance for most countries once again. 

Foreign Office advice against “all but essential travel” to many red and amber list destinations had previously invalidated most travel-insurance policies. Before this week, a traveller voyaging to Mexico, South Africa or Thailand would have needed specialised insurance usually designed for people working in war zones. 

While the new system is simpler, you should still keep an eye on local Covid-19 numbers if your destination is at risk of being reclassified as red. Travellers returning from countries on the red list (currently Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela) still need to pay for an 11-night hotel quarantine. The price for a solo traveller is £2,285. 

Unvaccinated travellers returning from non-red list countries are still required to self-isolate for up to ten days upon return.  

Red list or non-red list?

If you are fully vaccinated and returning from a non-red list country (the case for most travellers), then life is now simpler: the requirement to take a pre-departure test has been scrapped, saving holidaymakers the headache of organising testing abroad when they would rather be relaxing on the beach. However, a test is still required on or before day two of arrival in the UK. 

Some countries (such as France) no longer require tests at all for incoming vaccinated travellers, says Rory Goulding in The Times. That means that it is possible to “get through the whole holiday process with only one test needed: the UK day two test”. 

Unfortunately, that test still needs to be a PCR test (the type that must be sent to a laboratory for analysis), which costs an average of £75 per person. Transport secretary Grant Shapps has said that come the half-term holidays it should be possible to replace that with a cheaper lateral-flow test (the ones that give a result on the spot in 30 minutes). 

As Ben Clatworthy and Matt Dathan note in The Times, such tests cost about £25 each, so the change could save a family of four roughly £200. No date has yet been announced for the rule change, but half-term begins for many schools on 22 October. Remember that the day two test must be booked before arrival in the UK and the supplier must be able to provide you with a booking reference, a code required to complete the government’s pre-arrival passenger locator form. 

It remains to be seen whether the devolved governments will follow Westminster’s lead on lateral-flow tests, says Goulding. Devolved administrations often grumble about changes but, with a few exceptions, “a ‘four nations’ approach has usually won out in the end” for Covid-19 entry rules. 

Britain is gradually re-opening its borders, but there is little coordination about travel rules internationally. So also remember to check if your destination country is as keen to let you in as you are to get away. 

Recommended

Which companies will lose the most from the energy windfall tax?
Energy stocks

Which companies will lose the most from the energy windfall tax?

The government’s new energy windfall tax has muddied the waters for investors and companies alike. Rupert Hargreaves explains how it might affect some…
27 May 2022
The MoneyWeek Podcast with Russell Napier at the Library of Mistakes
Investment strategy

The MoneyWeek Podcast with Russell Napier at the Library of Mistakes

Merryn talks to Russell Napier about Edinburgh’s Library of Mistakes, the age of debt and financial repression, plus why he has never invested in Chin…
27 May 2022
Cryptocurrency roundup: another torrid week for crypto
Bitcoin & crypto

Cryptocurrency roundup: another torrid week for crypto

Cryptocurrencies suffered yet another intense week. Saloni Sardana rounds up the week's crypto news.
27 May 2022
Ocado faces a “crunch” year – should you buy or avoid?
Share tips

Ocado faces a “crunch” year – should you buy or avoid?

Ocado was one of the big winners from the pandemic as customers moved online. But now it’s struggling, and losses are growing. So, asks Rupert Hargrea…
27 May 2022

Most Popular

The world’s hottest housing markets are faltering – is the UK next?
House prices

The world’s hottest housing markets are faltering – is the UK next?

As interest rates rise, house prices in the world’s most overpriced markets are starting to fall. The UK’s turn will come, says John Stepek. But will …
23 May 2022
The Federal Reserve wants markets to fall – here’s what that means for investors
Stockmarkets

The Federal Reserve wants markets to fall – here’s what that means for investors

The Federal Reserve’s primary mandate is to keep inflation down, and lower asset prices help with that. So, asks Dominic Frisby – just how low will st…
25 May 2022
Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust has fallen hard. But is now the time to buy?
Investment trusts

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust has fallen hard. But is now the time to buy?

After a spectacular couple of decades, the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust has fallen by almost 45% so far this year. Rupert Hargreaves asks if no…
26 May 2022