Can I travel to amber list countries? Of course you can and in this post I’m going to give you some tips that I hope will help you make a journey to and from any country on the UK government’s amber list smooth and hassle free.
If you’re anxious about any part of the process that the government has insisted we follow then read this post to the end and I may be able to help to put your mind at ease.
There are a few hoops you have to jump through but if you plan in advance these needn’t be a hindrance and you can still enjoy a holiday this summer.
Remember, the guidelines are not law. You can still legally travel to countries that are on the list. You may be exempt from the chekcs but if not then it just means it’s more expensive because of the extra tests and there’s a bit of a faff with documents but I’ll explain everything in plain English and with a little planning your journey should be enjoyable and free of any delays.
I will leave it to you to decide if the traffic light system is just another of the UK government’s tiresome but necessary measures to ‘control the virus’ or a tool it’s using to cause permanent damage to the aviation industry and international tourism in order to meet its CO2 targets which, even if they are reached, will make no difference to a climate that will change anyway.
That’s a topic for another video. Let’s get you on holiday first.
How to travel to amber list countries
I’ve just returned from a week’s holiday in Portugal. It was on the green list until a few days before we were due to leave. Then, to the disappointment of many people; travellers, holidaymakers, and those within the tourism and air travel industry, the UK government moved Portugal onto the amber list.
Our party of three had to quickly decide whether to cancel our plans (and lose money for cancelling so late) or press ahead and pay extra for the additional tests required. As we hadn’t had a holiday in over a year (and consequently I’d saved more in the holiday fund) we all agreed that we’d press ahead.
Before I begin I should point out that what follows is based upon my personal experience and I make no guarantees as to the accuracy of this information. You should always check the latest updates on Gov.uk, on your airline’s website, and on the information sections of your destination country’s government website as the situation can change at any time.
Let’s get started then.
The tests and documentation required
You’re going to need to these forms and tests for yourself and each person in your group:
- A Fit to Fly PCR test
- A Personal Locator Form for the country of destination
- A Fit to Fly test for the return to the UK
- A Personal Locator Form for the return to the UK
- A Day 2 test after you return to the UK
- A Day 5 test after you return to the (optional – for early quarantine release)
- A Day 8 test after you return to the the UK
That’s the summary and here are the details.
Fit to Fly PCR tests
Presumably you’ve booked flights or a package holiday. I would suggest that if you haven’t done so already check if the airline offers any discounts with the approved test providers.
You don’t have to take all the tests with the same provider but obviously if there’s several of you and you can use a discount code the savings can add up to a considerable amount.
You’re going to need proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours of your flight departure. You may find, as I did, that the airport from which your flight leaves provides this service.
We flew from Southampton Airport so I booked a test through their website. We arrived a couple of days before the flight and the test was carried out as we sat in the car. The results were emailed to us within 24 hours after the test.
Top Tip: Print off the test results for each person. You’ll need them when you check in for the flight.
You’ll also need to make arrangements for the return tests before you depart. I booked our flights with British Airways and they provide their customers with discount codes for many of the test providers. This saved me a few quid so it’s worth checking this out.
Most of the providers will sell you an amber list package with an optional Test To Release test for 5 days after you return. Assuming this is negative you can end your quarantine on day 5 but you still have to take the day 8 test even if you exit quarantine early.
Order one for each member of your group a few days before you leave. The FTF tests for the return to the UK should arrive in good time so that you can pack these in your luggage. The others will be posted out so that they arrive after your return.
If for any reason you don’t have the FTF tests for your return because you forgot to pack them or they didn’t arrive in time you can probably arrange to have tests done through your hotel.
Personal Locator Form for the country of destination
For Portugal the online PLF can be found at https://portugalcleanandsafe.pt/en/passenger-locator-card
The form fields are all fairly straightforward. Fill one out for each member of your group.
I expect there’s a similar form for any other countries so search online for this or check the Help section of your airline or tour operator.
Top Tip: Make sure you use your full name as it appears on your passport. Your details must match the details on your passport for all these forms!
When you check in for your outbound flight from the UK you will be asked to show proof of the negative PCR test for each person. Depending on your departure airport you may want to allow extra time for check-in due to these additional requirements, but if you’re flying from a quiet regional airport then it should be plain sailing.
Now go and enjoy your holiday.
Fit to Fly test for the return to the UK
You’ll need to complete these within 72 hours of your return to the UK and not before. Our test provider sent out a link to a video call during which we were instructed on the use of the test kit. It was easy and only took a few minutes. We had to take a photo of the test result next to our passports and email the photos to the provider.
The results were negative for all of us so we received a certificate by email. Print these off because you’ll need them when you check in for your return flight.
Top Tip: Book consecutive appointments for each person in your group and make sure your phones are charged enough for the calls.
Another Tip: Take one of those desk stands for your phone with you. It makes life so much easier leaving your hands free to take the test and hold up the results to the test provider operative.
Another Tip: Book a grocery delivery for your return to the UK. If you do this a couple of days before you return you will probably be able to choose a delivery slot for a few hours before you reach home or the following day.
Personal Locator Form for the return to the UK
You’ll find this at gov.uk/provide-journey-contact-details-before-travel-uk
You need to fill this out for each person in the group. If you choose the option to create a login for this it means you can return to it and create other forms for other journeys so it’s worth creating an account. The sign in process authenticates using a code sent to your mobile phone so you’ll need your phone with you when you log in.
Once the form is complete download a copy and print it off. You may need to use the hotel’s business centre for this. You can’t forward the email for others to download so use the hotel’s business centre, log in there on a desktop computer and print it off there.
For the return to the UK you should have, in addition to your passport and boarding pass, a certificate proving a negative result of a test taken within 72 hours of your flight departure, and a Personal Locator Form for the return to the UK.
When we checked in for our return flights we had to present all these documents at the check-in desk; passport, proof of negative test results, and personal locator form for the UK.
When you arrive back in the UK your details will be checked by Border Force officers. They didn’t ask to see the printed documents but they asked a few questions and checked our passports for a few minutes. This is what causes extra delays on the return and why using a regional airport is often a good idea as the queues are much smaller than the main international airport hubs.
The final three steps, the 2 day test, the optional 5 day test, and the 8 day test have to be carried out as per the instructions in each pack.
You may receive calls at home on your landline to check that you’re sticking to the quarantine. Don’t ignore these and do act on any instructions given. As long as you follow the instructions and stick to the process there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to fly to and from any country on the amber list.
In summary then the process is easy to remember if you break it up into three parts.
- A Fit to Fly test to get you out of the UK and a personal locator form for your destination country.
- A Fit to Fly test to get you out of the amber country and a personal locator form for your return to the UK.
- Tests during quarantine on days 2 & 8 and an optional day 5 test if you want to exit quarantine early.
I hope that helps. Don’t be discouraged and go on holiday if you want to. You’re not only doing something positive for your own mental health and wellbeing but you’re also supporting the airlines, airports, travel industry, and all the people along the way who depend on tourists and travelers for their incomes and livelihoods.
Enjoy guilt-free air travel and do your bit for these industries.
Thanks for reading. Please post any additional tips or any questions, comments, or feedback below. Please give this post a like and share it with your friends and colleagues.