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New system for international travel: updated rules from 4 October

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A new simplified travel system will be in place from 4 October, designed to make travelling back to England for fully vaccinated travellers easier and cheaper than before.

The new system for international travel will be in place from 4am 4 October.

Here’s what you need to know.

What’s happening with the traffic light system?

The traffic light system is being replaced by a new clearer system for international travel.

The new system will see countries classed into two lists:

  • Red list of countries
  • Rest of world (ROW) list

The old green and amber list of countries have been merged into one ‘Rest of World’ list, with simplified measures to follow for fully vaccinated travellers when returning to England.

Rules for travelling from the rest of world list

If you’re fully vaccinated:

When you return from a non-red country, you no longer have to take a pre-departure test or a day 8 PCR test. You will only have to book and take a day 2 PCR test.

The day 2 PCR test is planned to be replaced with the cheaper lateral flow tests (not from the NHS) at the end of October. Dates are yet to be confirmed by the government for this change.

If you’re not fully vaccinated:

If you are not fully vaccinated under an approved vaccination programme, before returning to England you must:

  • Take a pre-departure COVID-19 test
  • Book and pay for a day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 test
  • Self-isolate for 10 days

You may be able to end your quarantine early with the Test to Release scheme, but you’ll need to pay for the extra tests.

Rules for travelling from red list countries

Travellers who are fully, partially or not vaccinated will all have to follow the same rules when returning to England from red list counties.

If you have been to a red list country in the last 10 days, you’ll have to:

Do I still need to complete a passenger locator form?

Yes, all travellers must complete a passenger locator form any time in the 48 hours before arriving back in the UK.

Are the rules the same for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales?

Devolved governments will have their own set of rules for travel, but they may follow the same or similar guidance to England’s rules.

Follow the guidance for Wales, >Scotland and Northern Ireland separately.

Are rules different for under 18s?

Under 18’s will be classed as fully vaccinated (even if they haven’t been offered the vaccine) and will have to follow the same rules set out for fully vaccinated travellers.

This means they won’t have to quarantine or take a pre-departure PCR test when travelling from a non-red list country back to England.

Will the new travel system affect my travel insurance?

Your travel insurance is not affected by the new system for international travel.

You’ll need to keep up to date with the latest FCDO travel advice, as knowing if it’s safe to travel to your destination will tell you if your cover is valid for your trip.

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