On the 4th of October, the new travel system finally came into play and replaced the more complicated traffic light system for travel. After announcing in mid-September that the traffic light system would be removed, this change being put in place is exciting news for travel businesses and travellers alike.

Not only is the travel system now simpler and clearer to follow for all travellers, but we are also expecting an update on Thursday the 7th of October that will remove a huge number of countries from the red list and move them to the ‘rest of the world’ travel list. There is a lot of speculation around what these countries could be, such as Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia.

A further 18 countries have also been added to the UK vaccine system, meaning those with the recognised complete vaccine programmes from these destinations will be able to enter the UK. This takes the list up to over 50 countries, now including destinations like the UAE and Canada.

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, said, “We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good, and today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses and the travel sector.

“Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than 8 in 10 people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to lower the cost of testing and help the sector to continue in its recovery.”

The New Travel System – How Does It Work?

The focus in changing the travel system was to reduce confusion among travellers and make travel not only more accessible but less daunting to book. Whether that’s the prices, the tests, or the conflicting information provided, this simpler travel system has been put in place to combat that.

The new travel system, therefore, only consists of two travel lists. From the green, amber, and red lists the traffic light system had, the UK has kept the red list and combined the green and amber lists into one ‘rest of the world’ list.

With the red list updates to come on the 7th of October, this opens up a huge number of destinations to UK travellers and those looking to enter the UK and makes booking a holiday easier and more affordable for all travellers.

Red List Requirements

The requirements for the red list are the same as they were during the traffic light system, as follows:

  • Non-essential travel is banned.
  • A mandatory eleven-day hotel quarantine will be enforced upon return from your destination. Booking in a hotel for quarantine must be done via a government authorised hotel, with a minimum cost of £2,285. For more information, please view the government’s official information on booking and staying in a quarantine hotel.
  • When returning to the UK, three PCR tests must be done. This will include a pre-departure, another two days after your return to the UK, and another eight days after your return.

However, the requirements for the ‘rest of the world’ list that used to be the green and amber lists is different starting from the 4th of October. This is dictated by the vaccination status of the traveller.

Vaccinated Traveller Requirements

If you are a fully vaccinated traveller entering the UK from a ‘rest of the world’ destination the pre-departure test is no longer a requirement, and later in the month of October, the day-2 PCR test will be replaced with an inexpensive lateral flow test. The requirements overall are as follows:

  • Complete a Passenger Locator form within 48 hours before travel to England.
  • Complete a day-2 PCR test on or before day-2 of arrival in England (you will need to book your day-2 test before departing for England). This will be changed to a lateral flow test later in October.

It’s also important to note that this currently only applies to travel to England. Though Scotland and Wales are currently working on following this new travel system, the day-2 PCR test will still be a requirement in Wales. In Scotland, the government aim to follow the England day-2 PCR test changes, but these changes are still in discussion.

In order to qualify as fully vaccinated, you need to have had your final dose of the covid vaccine at least 14 days before departure, this does not include the day you got your final dose. The vaccinated traveller requirements also apply to UK residents or residents of approved countries under the vaccination programme that are under the age of 18 and anyone who has medical reasons not to get the vaccine.

Children between 5 and 17 still have to take a day-2 PCR test until later in October when this will be changed for a lateral flow test.

Unvaccinated Traveller Requirements

If you are an unvaccinated traveller entering the UK from a ‘rest of the world’ destination, the requirements are as follows:

  • Take a pre-departure test within 3 days before departure.
  • Complete a Passenger Locator form within 48 hours before travel to England.
  • Quarantine for 10 days
  • Complete a day-2 and day-8 PCR test (you will need to book your day-2 and day-8 tests before departing for England). You can also book a day-5 test-to-release test that will allow you to stop quarantine early if you test negative, you will still need to take your day-8 test.

It is still as important as ever to check the requirements and restrictions for your destination before you decide to travel, since you may still need to book tests to match those requirements. You can check these requirements on the destination’s tourism board, or on the Foreign Travel Advice page. However, this is some fantastic news for UK travellers and travel businesses alike.

Travellers are already starting to book for the October half-term, the end of 2021, and for 2022 and in the travel industry, we’re all very excited about the number of destinations becoming more accessible and more affordable for holidaymakers.

So, if you’re excited to get to booking your next great holiday, don’t forget to get in touch with a PTS member. Or, if you’d like assistance picking one of the fabulous PTS members to book with, you can contact PTs directly at 0207 190 9988.

And if you’d like to learn more about your consumer protection with PTS or how the package travel regulations protect your holiday booking, don’t forget to check out our pages.

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