Read the updated version of this article

COVID-19 rules on international travel have changed several times recently. It has created a much simpler system and opened up the possibility of visiting family abroad – or taking foreign holidays – with less expense. What are current travel guidelines to Italy, Spain, Portugal, Brazil and more?

Mask wearing and social distancing are still enforced during overseas travel from the UK, but some coronavirus restrictions have been eased recently. One of the biggest announcements about travelling from England to overseas destinations was the scrapping of the traffic light system. Since then, the COVID test criteria has been changed too.

The constantly updated – and some would argue confusing – traffic light system for travel from the UK was replaced with a list of around 100 accessible countries that don’t require quarantine. However, at the time of going to press there were still seven countries on a Red Travel List, which carry far more stringent travel restrictions.

If you come back from a Red List country, even if you are vaccinated you are still required to make arrangements for quarantine, including meeting the cost of a 10 day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, and taking regular COVID tests.

The primary coronavirus check for travel to most destinations, however, is that you must show you have been double vaccinated with a type of vaccine approved by the British Government. All travellers must complete a locator form too.

There are different rules for non-vaccinated people travelling from and to England.

Even if you prove you are vaccinated, you will also have to book and provide an up-to-date negative COVID test result before you travel to England, and a follow up one for when you get back.

Change to travel test criteria

For a while, the testing associated with all travel into and out of England was a PCR one. So, it involved a high fee for tourists, holidaymakers and visiting family members who wanted to board international planes, ferries and trains.

Now, the UK Government have updated that, to be a lateral flow test. This is cheaper and simpler. Though you can’t use the test kits supplied by the NHS, and must still book a lateral flow test with one of the approved suppliers and then obtain an image of your negative result.

The Government helps you to find a travel test provider near you. You can also find more information about testing in general, travel certificate requirements and Red List countries on the official COVID travel advice website.

Differing country requirements

The new rules outlined above currently apply in England, though Wales will update its restrictions in a similar way from 31st October. Scotland and Northern Ireland may follow too.

It’s important to be aware that though England’s rules on foreign travel have been simplified, the COVID-19 entry requirements for different countries do vary. The Government provides a handy list of these.

What does this all mean if you want to visit Italy, Spain, Portugal or Brazil for example?

You need to obtain proof of COVID-19 recovery and your vaccination record, and Italy accepts these as equivalent to the green pass system the country uses. This is not the card you got stamped, but an official vaccine status from your GP.

You will also need proof of a negative PCR or antigen test, within 48 hours of your journey to Italy. Non-vaccinated people have far stricter rules to follow, including a period of self-isolation In Italy.

To travel to Spain you must provide a pre-travel declaration form and either a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination. This is the NHS COVID Pass, not the card you receive when you get your vaccinations. Spain doesn’t accept proof of recovery certificates.

There are health control forms applicable to all passengers, including children.

Your NHS COVID pass must be shown, and it must indicate your second dose was at least 14 days before you travel. You can also use an EU COVID recovery certificate if it indicates recovery no less than 11 days – and no more than 180 days – from your travel date. Without these, there are strict testing procedures in place.

An air travel ban imposed by Brazil for holidays and family visits has only recently been lifted. There are still land and sea barriers put on place to prevent entry into the country.

However, there are documents you must complete, and you will be required to provide a negative PCR test or antigen test for COVID-19 within a strictly regulated timeframe.

It is important to check the latest information for all destination countries before booking travel and just before your trip. Also, contact us for COVID test and travel certification help.

You can check the requirements for more than 200 countries on the link below. 

Was this information helpful?