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New Red List travel rules explained

Your guide to travelling into England from Red List countries

On 04/10/21, the travel rules into England changed, and the ‘traffic light’ system ended. This guide explains what you need to know about travelling to England from a Red List country.

The new red list system in a nutshell

The latest GOV.UK travel guidance – released 4 October and updated 28 November – spells big changes for travel into England. Now, instead of different rules depending on your country of origin, there are two sets of rules: Red List Countries; and everywhere else.

If you travel from – or through – a ‘Red List’ country, before you travel to England you must:

  1. Take a COVID-19 PCR test in the 3 days before you travel to England
  2. Book a managed quarantine hotel package, which must include two COVID-19 PCR tests
  3. Complete a passenger locator form.

You must arrange your COVID tests as part of your quarantine package – you can no longer organise your own tests.

What happens at the quarantine hotel?

There’s a good guide on what to expect if you need to stay in a quarantine hotel on GOV.UK. It explains everything you need to know, including:

  • How to book a quarantine hotel
  • How to get to the hotel from the airport
  • What tests you need to do and when
  • When you can leave your room
  • Food, exercise and mental health
  • What to do if you feel unwell

What is a ‘Red List Country’?

The red list is subject to change, but at the time this guide was published, the red list countries are:

  • Angola 
  • Botswana 
  • Eswatini
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique 
  • Namibia
  • South Africa
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

What if you are fully vaccinated?

The quarantine rules still apply, even if you are fully vaccinated or were just passing through a Red List Country.

What about children?

Under 18s (children) aren’t exempt – they need to quarantine with their parent, guardian or other appropriate adult.

Children shouldn’t be travelling into England from Red List Countries alone, but if there are exceptional circumstances (such as travelling to boarding school) you can apply on the child’s behalf for exemption from managed quarantine – though you must do this at least 14 days before they travel. Find out more on the GOV.UK website.

Are there any exceptions from managed quarantine?

Yes, there are some exemptions for work, and for medical and compassionate reasons. There’s full guidance on both available on GOV.UK:

You might also be interested in our Travelling to and from England guide, which explains the rules for people travelling from countries that are not on the Red List.

Reviewed and updated 29/11/2021

Date of publication 25/10/2021


GOV.UK – Guidance – Red list of countries and territories

GOV.UK – Booking and staying in a quarantine hotel if you’ve been in a red list country

GOV.UK – Guidance – Coronavirus (COVID-19): jobs that qualify for travel exemptions

GOV.UK – Guidance – Exemptions from managed quarantine for medical reasons