Department for Transport News

17 Sep 2021

New system for international travel

  • New clearer travel system: red list and rest of world
  • Simpler, cheaper rules for fully vaccinated travellers from non-red list countries - fully vaccinated passengers will be able to replace day 2 PCR tests with cheaper lateral flow tests - from the end of October -  and no longer need to take pre-departure tests (PDTs)
  • 8 destinations removed from red list including Turkey and Pakistan
  • Government recognises full vaccinations from a further 17 countries and territories including Japan and Singapore

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has today (Friday 17 September) announced a simplified system for international travel in light of the success of the UK’s domestic vaccine rollout, providing greater stability for industry and passengers.

The current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories which will continue to be crucial in order to protect public health, and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world from Monday 4 October at 4am.

Testing requirements will also be reduced for eligible fully vaccinated travellers, who will no longer need to take a PDT when travelling to England from Monday 4 October at 4am.

From the end of October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers and those  with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries will be able to replace their day 2 test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England. The Government wants to introduce this by the end of October, aiming to have it in place for when people return from half-term breaks.

Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.  

Testing for unvaccinated passengers from non-red countries will include pre-departure tests, day 2 and day 8 PCR tests. and test to release remains an option to reduce self-isolation period.

From 4 October, England will welcome fully vaccinated travellers from a host of new countries who will be treated like returning fully vaccinated UK travellers, including 17 countries and territories such as Japan and Singapore, following the success of an existing pilot with the US and Europe.

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary said:

“Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry."

“Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with more than 8 in 10 adults vaccinated people fully vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape."

Part of the third Global Travel Taskforce checkpoint review, today’s update reiterates the Government’s focus on protecting its borders from the most dangerous variants and ensures continuity for industry and passengers the remainder of the year. We will look to set out a further review for the UK’s international policy early in the new year to provide further certainty for the spring and summer 2022 seasons.

Conducting the final regular traffic light review before the switch to the new two tiered system, several additional countries and territories will move off the red list –Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya. Changes will come into effect at 4am Wednesday 22 September.

Passengers who aren’t recognised as being fully vaccinated with authorised vaccines and certificates under England’s international travel rules, will still have to take a pre-departure test, a day 2 and 8 PCR test and self-isolate for ten days upon their return from a non-red list country under the new two-tiered travel programme. Test to Release will remain an option for unvaccinated passengers who wish to shorten their isolation period.

Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary said:

“Today we have simplified the travel rules to make them easier to understand and follow, opening up tourism and reducing the costs to go abroad.

“As global vaccination efforts continue to accelerate and more people gain protection from this dreadful disease, it is right that our rules and regulations keep pace.”

From late October, we will also be making changes to allow passengers who change flights or international trains during their journey to follow the measures associated to their country of departure, rather than any countries they have transited through as part of their journey.

All passengers will still need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form ahead of travel. Passengers should continue to check GOV.UK travel guidance including FCDO Travel Advice before, during and after travel to keep up to date in entry requirements and ensure compliance with the latest COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 regulations for the country being visited.

Contact Information

Louise Dean
Press Officer

Notes to editors

  • On Wednesday 22 September eight countries and territories will move off the red list
  • On Monday 4 October a new simplified travel system will come into play and fully vaccinated passengers will no longer need to take a PDT when returning from non-red countries or territories
  • By late October, fully vaccinated passengers will be able to use later flow devices for Day 2 tests
  • Further information on international travel requirements can be found on GOV.UK.
  • See overview of new rules:

Baseline travel requirements

Red list


●        Before end of Oct. Day 2 Lat flow test, if positive confirmatory PCR for sequencing

  • PDT
  • Managed quarantine for 10 days
  • No Test To Release
  • Day 2 & 8 tests


●        PDT

●        Home quarantine for 10 days

●        Test To Release on Day 5

●        Day 2 & 8 tests

  • From late October the changes to passengers transiting through countries will also apply to airside transit.
  • From 4 October the Government will no longer use a traffic light system of red, amber or green but instead focus on which countries are at most risk and people should not travel to – with the current green and amber country lists merged to create a new two-tier status.
  • The changes coincide with the aims of the Global Travel Taskforce, which has over the past few months sought input and views from industry stakeholders to set out a framework for a safe and sustainable return to international when the time is right.
  • There will be no change to the current requirements for children travelling from or to red list countries or territories. Children resident in the UK, or countries that are part of our fully vaccinated policy will be treated the same as fully vaccinated adults resident in those countries.
  • Passengers who have received a complete course of a vaccine authorised in the UK, or EMA or Swissmedic in Europe or the FDA in the USA are already recognised as being fully vaccinated. We are expanding our inbound vaccination policy to further countries, and now will recognise the following vaccines: Pfizer BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen (J&J). To be eligible to be treated as fully vaccinated, people must be able to prove that they have been fully vaccinated (plus 14 days) with the above vaccines and the country they were vaccinated in must appear on the list on GOV.UK. Passengers must provide a document (digital or paper-based) from a relevant public health body that includes, as a minimum:
    • Forename and Surnames(s)
    • Date of Birth
    • Vaccine Brand and Manufacturer
    • Date of Vaccination for every Dose
    • Country/territory of Vaccination and/or Certificate Issuer
  • Those vaccinated with two different doses of the vaccines listed above, will be eligible for the policy. As an example, a person with one dose of Oxford/AstraZeneca and one dose of Moderna will be treated as fully vaccinated, subject to presenting sufficient proof as set out above.
  • Arrivals to the UK will need to meet the UK’s health and border requirements and comply with the relevant quarantine restrictions if coming from a red country or if not fully vaccinated. If you do not have the correct documentation ready to meet UK health and border requirements, you may delay yourself and others, be denied boarding, or face a fine.
  • The Government will also continue its regular spot checks taking place as part of a rapid review announced last month, to make sure prices for private tests displayed are accurate, providers are legitimate, and that companies have not changed their name to get back on the list.
  • In addition to Europe and US, from 4 October, the inbound vaccination policy will be extended to 17 countries and territories with certificates issued by a relevant public health body including Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
  • If travelling abroad, passengers need to take steps to keep safe and prepare in case things change before they travel or while they are there. This includes checking and keeping up to date on all entry requirements and FCDO travel advice, ahead of travelling and whilst they are abroad, because the situation remains fluid. They should also check the booking terms and conditions on flexibility and refunds.