What is the U.K. red list of travel restrictions and will France be placed on it ?

What is the U.K.’s red list of countries?

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.K. government has placed travel restrictions on countries with high numbers of cases of Covid-19 or new strains of the virus that may be vaccine-resistant, with the red list being those states from which travelers (ones who are not U.K. citizens) are banned from entering the country. This applies to those who have been to any of the countries on the list in the past ten days, even if they are returning from a country that’s not on the red list.


As of March 2021 these included Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), numerous African states like South Africa and Zimbabwe, and in South America; Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.


You can see the full updated list, here : U.K. government red list


As countries can be added at just a few hours’ notice, even if your country is not on the list, you must check that it has not been added before you travel. If your country is not on the red list you will still have to quarantine in the place you are planning to stay for 10 days, as well as booking and taking two Covid-19 tests after your arrival in the U.K. Travelers from some countries can take a test on day five of quarantine and can be released if negative.


Exceptions to the red list travel ban will be made for British and Irish passport holders, as well as those with the right to reside in Britain, but those returning to the country from places on the red list must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken fewer than 72 hours before they travel, and pay for their own 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel. In England, this costs £1,750 for solo travelers, covering transport, testing, food, and accommodation costs. For each additional adult or child over the age of 12, you must pay £650, while those with children between the ages of five and 12 must pay an additional £350.


The penalties for not complying with these restrictions and breaking the law are severe, with those who breach restrictions facing jail sentences of up to ten years.


Why is France at risk of being placed on the red list?

The number of Covid-19 cases in France is on the rise, with the 7-day average of new cases in late March rising to over 34,000. Scientists have suggested that this also means there are around 2-3,000 new cases of the South African variant, which has displayed some resistance to vaccines.


U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated a decision about adding France to the red list could be imminent during an appearance at the U.K. parliament’s Liaison Committee in late March. However, details of restrictions and who is required to quarantine may be slightly different to other countries on the list due to the importance of trade, including food and medical supplies, between Britain and France. For example, drivers are likely to be exempt but may face additional testing.


Are other European countries at risk of being put on the red list?

Government ministers have hinted that European countries with particularly high infection rates or prevalence of new vaccine-resistant or more contagious strains may be placed on the list, but Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the government has no plans to red list European countries en masse.


Are there any other travel restrictions besides the red list?

Under the coronavirus laws, anyone attempting to leave the U.K. without a reasonable excuse will incur a £5,000 fine. However, once travel resumes again, which the government hopes will happen in May, countries will be placed on amber (medium risk) and green (low risk) lists as well as the red list, allowing those traveling there to avoid some or most restrictions like testing or quarantine.


Do other countries have a red list system?

Most countries have imposed some form of travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, the European Union has a similar ‘traffic light’ system designed to limit the freedom of movement its citizens usually enjoy. It notifies citizens about which European regions are high, medium, and low risk. Travel to or from regions depicted as dark red is strongly discouraged, with EU states then choosing which travel or quarantine restrictions to place on each accordingly. Travelers from countries with high rates of Covid-19 also face similar restrictions on entering the EU.


If I am forced to cancel a trip to the U.K. due to France, or another country, being placed on the red list, what should I do?

If you are unable to go through with your trip due to the U.K. banning travel from the country you are planning to travel from, you should first contact your airline or travel agent and ask if you can postpone your trip or arrange a refund. If the airline or travel provider won’t postpone your trip or provide a refund, and you are insured with AXA, you should contact our claims team for advice.


Frequently asked questions about the U.K. travel red list

If I have to quarantine as I am traveling from a red list country, can I leave quarantine if I test negative for Covid?

No. The quarantine period is mandatory for those who are allowed to travel from red list countries.


Are there any exceptions to the red list travel bans ?

Those doing certain jobs, for example, those in the aviation industry and government workers, are exempt from the travel ban. There are also exemptions for medical emergencies.


If France is put on the red list, when will it be taken off ?

U.K. officials will only remove any country from the red list when cases, including ones of new strains, have dropped to a lower level.