Travel insurance for amber list countries

Holidays abroad are back on the calendar – but under a traffic light system with different rules depending on where you go. Want to know if you can visit an amber list country, and whether travel insurance can cover you? Here’s what you need to know before you hop on that plane.

Holidays abroad are back on the calendar – but under a traffic light system with different rules depending on where you go. Want to know if you can visit an amber list country, and whether travel insurance can cover you? Here’s what you need to know before you hop on that plane.

Josh Daniels
From the Travel team
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Posted 11 AUGUST 2021

Am I allowed to visit an amber list country?

The short answer is yes, you are. On 19 July, the Government loosened restrictions on travelling to these countries. But there’s a bit more to it than that.

People have been able to travel to green list countries without quarantining on return to England since 17 May when the Government lifted some restrictions on international travel. However, travel to amber and red list countries was against Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice and anyone who did so had to quarantine when back in the UK. And because they’d travelled against FCDO advice, they wouldn’t have been covered by travel insurance.

The country you’re travelling to will have its own entry requirements too - with some asking travellers to quarantine on arrival. You’ll need to check to see what applies to your destination. Even if the Government says you can travel, the destination might not allow you in.

See travel rules for:

Northern Ireland

Did you know…?

Destinations are categorised into green, amber and red lists, based on COVID-19 infections, variants and vaccines in those countries.


The travel traffic light system currently states that trips to green and amber listed countries are legally permitted if you live in England and Scotland. If you live in Wales and Northern Ireland, you still need to follow the rules for your relevant government.

If your destination of choice is on the green or amber list, you still need to check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. This is to ensure you are aware of any specific requirements relating to entry and ensure travellers from the UK are permitted. Countries can have their traffic light status changed with short notice and you should take this into consideration when looking to travel. Please check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to red list countries. Most insurance policies purchased to cover a trip to a destination where the FCDO has instructed citizens not to travel to won’t be valid, however, some insurance providers may offer reduced cover if you’re travelling for essential purposes. Should you have any queries, please check the policy wording, or contact your chosen provider before purchasing, to ensure the cover meets your needs.

Travel within England, Scotland and Wales is permitted under the current guidelines. However, public health rules and lockdown restrictions continue to vary, including entry restrictions for Northern Ireland. Check the latest guidance from the official tourism boards for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.

Find out more here

What do I need to do when going back to England from an amber list country?

You must take a Covid test three days before you travel back to England. Also, you must book and pay for a PCR test in advance of your return, to be taken on or before day two of your arrival in England.

You’ll also need to complete a passenger locator form – you can do this for free online.

If you’re not fully vaccinated, on arrival in England, you must:

  • Quarantine at home or in the place you're staying for 10 days
  • Take a COVID-19 test on or before day two and on or after day eight

If you’ve been double-jabbed with an NHS vaccine you won’t have to self-isolate at home when you arrive back in England from an amber list country, if it’s been at least 14 days since your second vaccination. You’ll need to have proof of your vaccination status to show your travel operator. Like all travellers to England you’ll have to:

  • Take a COVID-19 test in the three days before you arrive in England and have proof of a negative test result
  • Pay for and book a day-2 test which must be taken on your return – but you won’t need to book the day 8 test
  • Complete a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before arrival in the UK - you can do this free online

But even if you’re fully vaccinated, you’ll need to quarantine for 10 days if your day two test is positive, or if NHS Test and Trace tells you that you travelled to England with someone who has tested positive.

Different rules may apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What happens if I am travelling from a green list country but there’s a transit stop in an amber list country?

If you travel to a green list country but your flight home lands in an amber country and new passengers join your flight there, you’ll become subject to amber list rules. For example, Grenada is a green country but most UK flights land in St Lucia, an amber country, to allow passengers to leave and join the flight.

When you arrive in England, you need to follow the rules for the highest-risk country or territory that you’ve been in or passed through during the previous 10 days. That can include transit stops where you mingle with other passengers. Your ticket should show if a stop is a transit stop.

Does travel insurance cover amber list countries?

This is where it gets a bit complicated. Travel insurance focuses on FCDO advice, rather than the green/amber list requirements. So always check the FCDO advice before you go. If the FCDO is advising against travel to your destination, you won’t be covered.

Can I buy travel insurance designed to cover amber countries?

No, you can’t get travel insurance specifically designed for amber list countries. Whether your travel insurance is valid depends on what the FCDO says, rather than what list the country is on.

What should I do If I’m already at my destination and it changes to red or amber?

The Government says destinations can be moved between lists without warning. If your destination changes to amber and you’re not fully vaccinated, you’ll have to quarantine at home or in the place you’re staying for 10 days when you arrive back in England, and take a test on day two and day eight.

If you’re coming from a red list country, you’ll have to quarantine for 10 days in a Government-approved quarantine hotel when you arrive in England. You’ll need to agree to book and pay for a quarantine package before you complete your passenger locator form and board your return journey to the UK.

How much you’ll have to pay for a quarantine hotel

  Rate for bookings made on or before 11 August 2021 Rate for bookings made on or after 4am on 12 August 2021
Rate for 1 adult in 1 room for 10 days (11 nights) £1,750 £2,285
Additional rate for 1 adult (or child over 11) £650 £1,430
Additional rate for a child aged 5 to 11 £325 £325
Children under 5 Free Free

These booking fees include your hotel, quarantine transport and travel tests for COVID-19 tests on day two and day eight of quarantine.

There’s no additional charge to your initial booking fee if you need to extend your stay because of positive tests at day two or day eight.

If paying for your hotel will cause you financial hardship, you may be able to pay it in 12 instalments. The Government has said it will keep package prices under review so these prices may change. If you haven’t arranged a quarantine package before your arrival, you could face a penalty of up to £4,000 and still have to pay for your quarantine package on top. If you break the quarantine rules you could be fined up to £10,000.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says that if FCDO advice changes to advise against travel to a country you’re already in, you’ll be covered for your trip under the same terms as when you took out your policy.

How to book a holiday safely to protect yourself against traffic light changes

Countries can move between lists and FCDO advice can change at short notice, so there’s no way to completely protect yourself. But there are things you can do to help your holiday go smoothly:

  • Make sure you check the latest FCDO advice for your destination before you book and travel
  • Understand vaccination and testing requirements well ahead of time. Under coronavirus rules for England, travellers returning from amber list countries don’t have to quarantine on arrival home as long as they’re fully vaccinated under the UK programme. You’ll also need to be able to show proof of your vaccination status. Make sure you book any tests required in good time
  • Fully understand the entry requirements for your destination - they won’t necessarily be the same as UK requirements
  • Check the terms and conditions of any holiday you book. What, if anything, will they offer in the way of refunds or alternative holidays if circumstances change?
  • If you’re travelling to Europe, make sure you have your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)
  • Investigate travel insurance with COVID-19 cover. This can offer some financial protection against some of the risks associated with coronavirus – for example, additional medical bills. But make sure any travel insurance you buy meets all your needs – not just coronavirus-related requirements
  • Make sure you understand the risks and financial impacts on you if the status of your destination changes to amber or red before you confirm your booking.

Frequently asked questions

Do my children have to be double vaccinated to visit amber list countries?

Different countries have their own entry rules, so you’ll need to check them thoroughly before you book your trip.

What are the rules for UK citizens who live abroad?

If you live abroad permanently, you’ll need to follow the travel advice of the country where you live, and the rules for entering the UK, including providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Only British or Irish nationals, or people with residence rights in the UK, can enter the UK if they’ve been to a destination on the red list within 10 days of their arrival.

Can I get insured if I visit an amber list country?

You should be able to buy travel insurance, but remember it won’t be valid if the FCDO advises against all but essential travel to that destination – regardless of what traffic light list it’s on.

Do I need a vaccine passport to get travel insurance?

No, at the moment you don’t. Currently, insurance providers aren’t asking about your vaccination status when you buy an insurance policy.

Check your policy details to see what, if any, coronavirus cover it offers and if your vaccine status makes any difference to the cover offered, and if any exclusions apply.

You may need it to prove your vaccine status, to be able to enter another country.

Will travel insurance cover me if I have to quarantine?

Policies with enhanced COVID-19 cover may offer some cover for quarantine abroad, but you’ll need to check the details to see.

What about insurance if I’m travelling for essential purposes?

There are some exemptions from COVID-19 travel and entry requirements because of:

You need to check whether your travel insurance will cover you if you’re travelling for these reasons.

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