UK to ease Covid travel rules for fully vaccinated British expats

British government expected to strike quarantine-free deal with 33 countries

Fully vaccinated Britons arriving from amber-list countries will be able to avoid quarantine in the UK. Reuters
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UK ministers may ease travel restrictions for fully vaccinated British expats from next month.

British expatriates and their families are currently required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival in the UK from an amber-list country because officials recognise only those Covid-19 vaccines administered by the country's National Health Service.

In a change expected to come into force on August 1, UK citizens who have been inoculated overseas will be able to register their vaccination status with their local doctor.

The UK Department for Transport is holding a formal review of the travel rules imposed on overseas passengers this week.

Ministers are reportedly set to agree a reciprocal deal on quarantine-free travel with 33 countries.

Those countries include much of Europe including Spain, Portugal, France and Greece, plus some long-haul destinations including Barbados, Anguilla and the Cayman Islands.

Red-list passengers are unlikely to benefit from the updated scheme, with all such travellers – regardless of vaccination status – still required to pay for hotel quarantine on arrival in the UK.

Under England's traffic-light system, amber-list passengers do not need to isolate if they are fully vaccinated but still need to take a test on day two after arriving in the UK.

Green-list passengers from low-risk countries do not need to quarantine even if they are unvaccinated.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi spoke about the updated travel rules for British expats in the House of Commons last week.

“By the end of this month, UK nationals who have been vaccinated overseas will be able to talk to their GP, go through what vaccine they have had, and have it registered with the NHS that they have been vaccinated,” he said.

“The reason for the conversation with the GP is to make sure that whatever vaccine they have had is approved in the UK. Ultimately, there will be co-ordination between the World Health Organisation, ourselves, the European regulator, the US regulator and other regulators around the world.”

He said the scheme would be brought in “very soon”.

“Because we are working at speed, at the moment it is UK nationals and citizens who have had UK vaccinations who will be able to travel to amber-list countries other than France and come back and not quarantine,” he said.

“We want to offer the same reciprocity as the 33 countries that recognise our app, and that will also happen very soon.”

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps previously said the British government could scrap isolation for British expats inoculated with WHO-recognised vaccines.

"We’re actively working on this issue of how to accept vaccination from other countries," he said on July 9.

"Obviously we look at whether they are WHO-certified and the like, and in terms of a timescale I think in the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to come forward and say more about other locations in the world."

Meanwhile, there is speculation France could return to the amber list.

France was moved to the so-called amber-plus list earlier this month owing to concern about the Beta variant, meaning even double-vaccinated travellers were required to self-isolate.

Updated: July 26, 2021, 3:48 PM