It was a huge disappointment for many last week to learn that not only were no new countries to be added to the Green Travel List but that Portugal was to be removed without warning. The Government failed to implement its promised Green Watch List, leaving thousands of holiday makers in Portugal with a real dilemma. Scramble for overpriced flights and cut short their holiday or pay for extra tests and quarantine for 10 days on their return. For those of you still with an appetite for travel to an Amber List country or with existing trips booked, I have set out below a step by step guide to the hoops you have to jump through on your return. Basically a lot of expensive PCR tests. Frustratingly, clients of mine who returned from a really enjoyable holiday in the Eastern Algarve on Sunday commented that Portugal felt safer and more Covid aware than the UK. Hygiene in hotels was meticulous, masks were worn even outdoors and meals were eaten al fresco. Here’s hoping that on the next review date at the end of June the Government reconsiders its approach.
Steps for returning from Amber List countries
Step 1: Before leaving UK – book tests
- Book and pay for Day 2 and Day 8 PCR tests with approved government supplier.
- Book Day 5 Test to Release if you want to exit quarantine earlier than day 10 (See below – Step 5)
- Order lateral flow test kit for return journey if you want to take return lateral flow test at hotel rather than airport or local clinic (see below)
Step 2: Passenger Locator Form
Complete passenger locator form in the 48 hours before your return to the UK. You will need a reference number of Day 2 and Day 8 PCR tests and Test to Release if relevant.
Step 3: Pre-departure Covid test
You will need to show a negative Covid test (this can be a lateral flow test) taken up to 72 hours before departure. Many airports in tourist hotspots have a clinic where you can take a rapid flow test immediately before departure or you can use a local clinic. Booking is advised. Alternatively take your test in the comfort of your hotel room through a supervised online appointment using a kit you have brought with you. You will receive an email confirming the test result shortly after your appointment. Free NHS lateral flow tests (like the ones given out to school children) cannot be used for this.
Stage 4 – Quarantine and Day 2 Test
Once you arrive back in the UK you start your quarantine at home. Day 1 of your quarantine is the day after you arrive back in the country. Expect to receive several phone calls a day from Track and Trace checking you are at home plus in person visits at the address you gave on your passenger locator form. Before Day 2 you must take a PCR Test. This can be done in person or using a home test kit you have purchased before your holiday from an approved provider, who will send the kit to you in time for your test. Some providers have been overwhelmed and failed to get tests to purchasers in time so please look carefully online at reviews.
Stage 5 – Optional Test to Release
You can opt to end your 10 day quarantine early by taking an additional PCR test on Day 5. Not all providers of Day 2 and 8 Tests do Test to Release but there are plenty of approved providers who offer the service. We suggest you get this test done in person, rather than rely on the kits being posted to you on time and to avoid risking a void test. You are allowed to leave quarantine in order to get this test done. You cannot then leave quarantine until you have your negative result.
Stage 6 – Day 8 Test
On or after day 8 you should take your second PCR test. You can stop quarantine once you have quarantined for 10 days and have received your negative test result. You must take the Day 8 Test even if you took a Test to Release, obtained a negative result and have left quarantine.
As well as considering the UK’s requirements for your return, you should also check the FCDO website to see what steps you need to follow to enter your holiday destination. These will vary but often involve a PCR test before departure.
Remember to check your passport has at least six months left on it, you have a valid EHIC or GHIC health card and have taken out travel insurance that covers Covid including cancellation. If the FCDO is currently advising against travel to your chosen destination, check your travel insurance. You are likely to need to buy an extension to cover the FCDO advisory. Steps summarised above are correct as of 07/06/21 but you should always check www.gov.uk for the latest detail before you travel.