The ultimate Covid vaccination travel guide – where will the jab get you?

·10-min read
tourist couple, malta - Getty
tourist couple, malta - Getty

Vaccinated holidaymakers, it’s time to rev your engines. For if you glance up through the windscreen to our holiday traffic lights, you’ll see a distinctly green hue to the ‘amber list’ after last week’s news.

Four months after Ryanair met criticism for its misleading ‘Jab and Go’ advert, that sentiment might soon become the reality. The Telegraph understands that Government officials are drawing up plans that will allow anyone who has received a full course of the vaccine to sidestep quarantine after returning home from amber destinations, with some testing measures still in place.

If this goes ahead, it will be the silver bullet for the travel industry, effectively opening up holidays for tens of millions of Britons to our favourite destinations such as Portugal, Spain and Greece. Our flimsy green list – comprising Iceland, Gibraltar and (thank the lord) the Sandwich Islands – will be sidelined to obscurity.

There are snags, of course. By the time this rule comes into effect – we can presume, playing it safe, by the end of July – most but not all Britons will have received a full course of the vaccine. 40 million or so will be double dosed. Where does this leave those who have received a single jab, or no jab at all? That is, presumably, the biggest scribble on the Government’s white board brainstorm.

Then there’s the consideration of insurance. If the Foreign Office and Department of Transport continue to unhelpfully misalign their travel advice, as they do at the moment, your green-hued ‘amber’ countries may still come slapped with an FCDO travel advisory, meaning your insurance could be void. Spain, for example, is currently OK’d for ‘essential travel only’. This is a gamble many would take, I’m sure.

But let’s focus on the positives here. Removing the prohibitive 10-day quarantine flips an amber list holiday from impossible to viable. So where in the world can you go if you have received a full course of the vaccine? Where is available with a single dose? And what if you have not received a jab at all? Here’s your ultimate vaccination travel guide.

Where is on the amber list, again?

You’ll be forgiven for asking this question. After a year of travel corridors, air bridges, holiday tunnels and vacation vortexes, it can be tricky to keep up. At this moment in time, there is a traffic light system to get your head around.

To refresh: green means zero quarantine on return to the UK, but with a single test before you fly home; amber means 10 days of quarantine at home, with two tests and the option to ‘release’ after an additional test on day five. And as for red? Pack your favourite tea bags. It’s a rather unglamorous £1,750 10-night stay at a quarantine hotel.

But here’s the good news. If the Government does indeed waive quarantine for vaccinated travellers arriving back from amber destinations, this will make the process of arriving into the UK from no fewer than 167 countries and territories a whole lot easier.

Not that you can get into all of those countries, of course. China for example is classified as ‘amber’, but British arrivals won’t get in without a very good reason indeed. North Korea is also ‘amber’, despite there being no way into the country by air or rail (if you do, somehow, get in, a breezy 30-day detention awaits).

But there are plenty of amber destinations to get excited about. All 10 of our favourite travel destinations back in the heady pre-pandemic days, in fact – Spain, France, Italy, the USA, Ireland, the Netherlands, Greece, Germany, Portugal and Poland – plus most Caribbean islands and swathes of Asia.

Two jabs? These amber destinations will let you in, hassle free

A whole host of countries have announced they will welcome British holidaymakers with proof of full vaccination – that is, two doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna – which can be presented via the NHS app. If you haven’t received both jabs, then you will need to present a negative PCR result, usually taken 72 hours before travel, to be allowed in.

However, it’s not quite as straightforward as that (it never is). To get into France, for example, full vaccination status means you do not need to prove an essential reason for your visit (fantastique). Vaccinated arrivals from the UK do, however, still need to take a PCR test 72 hours before travel to avoid a mandatory seven-day quarantine on arrival (sacre bleu).

gibraltar - Getty
gibraltar - Getty

Likewise, in Gibraltar, proof of full vaccination will get British arrivals in without needing to take a test before travel. But you will still need to take a lateral flow test 24 hours after arrival, and then again on day five if you are lucky enough to be staying for seven days or more. And in Iceland, evidence of a full course of the vaccine means you only need to take one PCR test on arrival, rather than one before travel and two on arrival.

So where does double vaccination status remove all hassle before arrival? A number of our favourite holiday destinations, that’s where.

Portugal

Status: amber

FCDO advice: OK for non-essential travel

The fall guy of the UK’s topsy-turvy travel policies over the past 12 months, Portugal may have been demoted to amber just weeks after turning green, but the country is doing everything it can to welcome us in with minimal hassle. Everyone with two doses of the vaccine at least 15 days prior to travel will be exempt from any testing requirements, and there’s no need to quarantine on arrival. Obrigado.

Greece

Status: amber

FCDO advice: Essential travel only, except to Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu and Crete

Greece is straining to get on the UK’s green list, chiefly by racing against the clock to get its 6,000 islanders vaccinated by the end of June. In the meantime, it’s welcoming jabbed-up Britons with open arms. Proof of double vaccination at least 14 days before travel will get you in with no further tests or quarantine; you’ll just need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form before travel.

rhodes - Getty
rhodes - Getty

Croatia

Status: amber

FCDO advice: Essential travel only

Croatia was one of the first EU countries to welcome vaccinated arrivals. The FCDO states: "If you live in England, Croatia will accept the NHS app or your NHS letter to demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccination status. You cannot use a handwritten NHS COVID card as proof of vaccination for travel purposes." You’ll just need to fill in an online entry form before you go.

Cyprus

Status: amber

FCDO advice: Essential travel only

Since May 1, all British arrivals with proof of a full course of the vaccine are able to enter without taking a pre-departure PCR test. The only additional piece of admin is the requirement to fill out the Cyprus Flight Pass 24 hours within 24 hours of departure.

Malta

Status: amber

FCDO advice: OK for non-essential travel

Malta has delayed plans to allow fully vaccinated Britons in without tests or quarantine (originally due for June 1), but a Government statement has indicated vaccine passports will be accepted as soon as the EU’s digital Covid passport is “in place and functioning”, hopefully by July.

valletta, malta - Getty
valletta, malta - Getty

Where else?

This is only the tip of the double jab holiday iceberg. A number of countries are accepting vaccine certificates to ease testing and quarantine requirements for arrivals, including Belize, Ecuador, Georgia (the country, not the US state), Hungary, Lebanon, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, the Seychelles, Slovenia and Thailand. Many more will join that list when the EU introduces its new policy on vaccine passports in early July. To get up to speed with full entry requirements, check the FCDO website for each country.

One jab? You’re stuck in holiday limbo

Sadly, having one shot in the arm won’t do much for your holiday prospects. All of the destinations that do waive restrictions for inoculated arrivals demand two doses, or nothing. So with one jab, your status is effectively the same as having no jabs. You are, however, on your way to the Babylon of double vaccination status and the destinations that open up accordingly (see above), which is something. As it stands, there are around 12 million people who have had a single jab and await their second.

No jabs? These countries will let you in, hassle-free

Around 10 million British adults are yet to have received a first dose of the vaccine, although as of this week everyone over the age of 18 can register for their first dose, meaning the number of unjabbed will continue to shrink over the coming weeks.

For now, for the unjabbed (and single-jabbed) there are a handful of countries going against the grain and welcoming UK arrivals regardless of vaccination status, with no testing requirements or quarantine on arrival, either. The promise lands of pandemic travel, if you will.

Spain

Status: amber

FCDO advice: Essential travel only, except to the Canary Islands

Since May 24, UK holidaymakers have been able to enter Spain without taking a test or proving vaccination status, and there’s no quarantine on arrival either. Convenient, it being our favourite holiday destination and all. The only exception to the rule is the Canary Islands, where you must arrive with proof of two jabs in your arm (administered two weeks prior to travel), a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before travel, or proof you’ve recovered from Covid-19 up to six months before travel.

seville, spain - Getty
seville, spain - Getty

Estonia

Status: amber

FCDO advice: Essential travel only

Estonia does have quarantine restrictions in place, but not for travellers from the UK. However, if the UK’s infection rate rises above 150 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days, you will need to simply arrive with proof of double vaccination or proof that you have been infected and overcome Covid-19 within six months of travel. It may be categorised as ‘amber’, but Estonia is one of Europe’s greenest countries, with 52 per cent forest coverage.

North Macedonia

Status: amber

FCDO advice: Essential travel only

Everyone’s favourite Euro 2020 underdog, North Macedonia (known as Macedonia until 2019) simply says anyone with symptoms should self isolate. Otherwise, it’s free entry. No PCR tests, no proof of vaccination. We’ll see you for a glass of rakija in Skopje.

Dominican Republic

Status: amber

FCDO advice: Essential travel only

The second-largest Caribbean nation is welcoming British visitors with zero hassle. Its tourist board said that, by dropping any test or vaccination requirements, the destination would be viable for younger audiences and families this summer. You will, however, have your forehead zapped by a temperature checker on arrival. Test positive and you will be banged up in an authorised quarantine facility, which almost certainly won’t have beach access.

dominican republic - Getty
dominican republic - Getty

Mexico

Status: amber

FCDO advice: Essential travel only

You will not need to flash your vaccine passport, nor proof of a negative test result, to get into Mexico. The FCDO simply advises: “If you present symptoms of COVID-19 upon arrival at an airport in Mexico, you should ask for the International Health Team (“Sanidad Internacional”).” Fill in a health questionnaire, and you’re off. Vamos.

Costa Rica

Status: red

FCDO advice: Essential travel only

Costa Rica has open doors. All you need to do to get in is prove that you have bullet-proof travel insurance with specific cover requirements (including health cover up to US$50,000) in case you contract Covid-19, and you must fill in an electronic form known as ‘Pase de Salud’ or ‘Health Pass’ to enter. After that, it’s a beeline to the jungle. The snag? Costa Rica is categorised as ‘red’, meaning you will have to enter hotel quarantine on your return.

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