Last updated 30 May 2021

To say that planning international travel is not entirely straightforward at the moment is rather an understatement.

We realise that many of our guests are desperate to get back to London but with the situation evolving weekly it is difficult to know how to begin arranging a trip.

Here we have pulled together the latest guidance regarding travel into the UK and our national roadmap out of lockdown, to give you essential information to help organise a visit over the next few months. We’ll be updating this regularly to reflect the current situation, so check back soon.

There’s quite a lot of info here, so if you just want a summary of the key points, jump to the bottom.

I want to travel to London – what’s the current situation?

The UK government is re-opening international travel, and from 17 May a new ‘traffic light’ system came into effect with green, amber and red-listed countries – each colour signifying different rules around testing and quarantining.

Travellers visiting or returning from countries on the green list do not need to quarantine on entering the UK, providing you take a pre-departure test up to 72 hours before travelling and a second (PCR) test on or before the second day after your arrival in England/Wales.

The initial, very limited, green list consists of: Portugal, Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, plus several small remote islands that are British Overseas Territories.

If you’re planning a trip from somewhere on the amber list, you’ll need to take a pre-departure test and then you must quarantine in the place you’re staying for 10 days because of coronavirus restrictions. Two PCR tests are required, on days two and eight of quarantine (which can be reduced to five days by paying for the cost of an extra test on that day). Amber countries include Spain, Greece and France, and more than 100 other countries.

The system for red-list arrivals is essentially the same as for amber, however on arrival you must isolate in an approved quarantine hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1,750 per person, with the costs of the PCR tests required on days two and eight included in the package (which must be pre-booked before travelling). There are currently around 45 red list countries in total, including Brazil, South Africa and India.

In short, this means that if you want to visit London for a few days of holiday or business, it is only practical to do so from a green list country, otherwise you will need to quarantine for up to 10 days on arrival (and possibly again when you get home!). You can see the full list of green, amber and red countries with the relevant rules here.

Is the green list going to be expanded soon?

The travel lists will be reviewed every three weeks from early June, and the expectation is that further countries will be added to the green list very soon.

Will the US be included on the green list soon?

There are rumours that there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to establish a UK-US air corridor as a priority, given the advanced stage of the Covid vaccination programme in these two countries. Current expectations are that the US will be added to the green list soon – it may well be included in early June, but there is no concrete on this yet.

Great! So I can travel to London freely if my country is included on the green list?

Yes – provided that you follow the pre- and post-arrival testing regime, and you follow your domestic inbound rules on returning home (bear in mind, if your country is on the UK’s green list, it doesn’t necessarily mean the travel rules are reciprocal).

But will anything be open when I get to London?

Yes! The good news is that after a lengthy winter lockdown we are in the early stages of a clear path to gradually release Covid safety measures. Key dates set by the government are:

So, in theory, life in London and the wider UK will be looking something more like normal by June, although some sensible Covid precautions will undoubtedly still be in place, such as social distancing and mask wearing in public places, and the need to register your visits to venues to assist with the NHS Test & Trace system.

Sounds great! But I’m still not too keen on getting on a packed tube train or bus… 

Understandable. That’s why you should stay with us at the Lime Tree Hotel! As well as being situated in one of the most beautiful and charming areas of London, with numerous independent eateries, coffee shops, pubs, boutiques and art galleries lining the streets just a stone’s throw from our door, you can reach many of the city’s top attractions and historic sites easily on foot. No need to go near public transport, or even a taxi for that matter.

Check out our recent blog on this very topic here.

Can you summarise all that for me please?

Certainly. Here are the essential points:

Stay happy and check back soon for the latest information.