Now that overseas travel is back on, you may be wondering what happens if your green-rated destination is suddenly placed on the amber list. And what does this mean for quarantine and insurance cover if you decide to still go, or for a refund if you’d rather cancel?
Destinations on the green list are the only places where you can visit and avoid self-isolation on your return to the UK. If you travel to an amber list destination, you have to quarantine for 10 days on your home when you come back. In both scenarios you also face Covid tests before flying home and on day two and eight, after your return.
Additionally, while insurance might be available when you first book your trip, it might later be voided if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against travelling to your holiday destination – which is separate risk advice to the travel traffic light rating. The amber list and FCDO advice don’t always marry up.
To make travelling abroad easier this summer, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about amber destination holidays below.
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Can I visit an amber list country?
The government has said it does not want English residents taking holidays to amber list countries. Travel to anywhere on this list should be for essential reasons only.
Due to the government and the FCDO assessing different risk factors for travel, sometimes the FCDO will rate a destination as safe while the government places it on the amber list. The government still doesn’t want people to go to amber list destinations for leisure purposes, even if FCDO advises that travel is safe.
The Scottish government says that ‘you should think carefully before booking travel to a country or area on the amber list for holidays or for any other leisure purpose. Travelling abroad carries a risk of bringing new cases and variants of Covid-19 into Scotland.’
Residents of Wales are advised to stay at home and take a holiday in Wales instead.
People living in Northern Ireland are advised not to travel abroad.
If you do travel to an amber list country, you must quarantine at home when you return for 10 days. You also need to take a pre-departure test, book and pay for day two and day eight Covid-19 tests and fill in a passenger locator form. See full travel traffic light advice for green, amber and red countries.
You also need to check requirements for the country you’re travelling to. Check to see if it’s allowing UK residents to travel there and if you need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test and quarantine on arrival.
Can I get insured if I visit an amber list country?
It depends. If you book a holiday to an amber list country somewhere that the FCDO advises against travelling to, you will not be able to get travel insurance. If you have insurance but your holiday destination changes to amber before departure, your insurance will no longer be valid. It means you won’t be covered if you have an accident abroad, for example, which could be costly.
Most holiday providers will refund or allow you to move your holiday if FCDO advises against travel, but not all. If they refuse, you also won’t have valid insurance, so you are faced with either travelling without insurance, or losing the holiday.
Similarly, if a travel agent won’t refund you for an amber list destination and you don’t want to or can’t quarantine when you get home, you could lose the cost of your holiday. This is why it’s important to book with a provider that is flexible if a destination changes from green to amber.
If you find insurance for a holiday to a country where the FCDO says it’s safe to travel to, be aware it may not offer complete Covid-19 cover. Most companies do not offer financial cover for all scenarios. For example, the company might pay out if you fall ill with coronavirus while abroad, but not if you’re told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace at the time of travel. Check what the insurance actually provides.
If you book a holiday and it changes to amber when you’re due to fly, can you get a refund?
You aren’t legally entitled to a refund if you’re cancelling. Check the terms and conditions or ask your travel agent where you stand. Plenty of holiday providers are still taking people on holiday to amber list destinations. However, many will allow you at least a date or destination change if the country changes to amber from green, but not all.
If you’ve booked a flight only, it’s likely that flight will still run even if a country’s rating changes to amber. So you will need to fly or lose the cost of the flight, unless the company’s terms say otherwise.
If you are yet to book, book a package holiday from a flexible provider. Many holiday companies are more flexible than airlines.
When booking a holiday, check you can rebook for free if your destination is on the amber or red list at the time of departure, if you know you can’t quarantine. Make sure you can transfer the full value of your trip, without unrecoverable costs being deducted. Sometimes companies say you can move it for free apart from unrecoverable costs. This is often the cost of the flight, or a pre-booked trip so it could be a big financial hit.
You’ll also need assurance that you’ll be refunded if the FCDO adds a warning to the country you’re travelling to.
Will Tui refund me if my holiday destination is added to the amber list?
No, only if your destination is on the red list. For holidays to amber list countries, if you’re unwilling or unable to self-isolate, you can amend your booking without penalty. You’ll need to pay more if the holiday is more expensive, but will be refunded for the difference if it’s cheaper. See more on Tui’s rebooking policies.
Will British Airways Holidays refund me if my holiday destination is added to the amber list?
No. You will only be offered a refund if your destination is added to the red list. If it moves from green to amber however, you can change your destination or date with no change fees or supplier costs. Just be aware you will have to pay the difference if the new holiday is more expensive. You can also get a voucher. See British Airways’ booking policies.
Will easyJet Holidays refund me if my holiday destination is added to the amber list?
No, only if your destination is on the red list. However, trips on the amber list can be amended or you can gain credit without charge right up until 24 hours before departure. See easyJet’s refund and rebooking policies.
Will Loveholidays refund me if my holiday destination is added to the amber list?
No. It also says that if you move to a different destination or date then supplier charges could apply. Look at Loveholidays’ refund policies and FAQs.
Will Jet2holidays refund me if my holiday destination is added to the amber list?
If the holiday destination is on the amber list, but the FCDO says it’s okay to travel there then Jet2 says cancellation fees will be applicable. If it changes to amber and FCDO advises against travel to that country, a full refund will be offered. See Jet2holidays’ refund and rebooking policy.
Jet2 has currently cancelled all holidays up to 23 June.
Will On The Beach refund me if my holiday destination is added to the amber list?
No. You can amend the holiday for no fee, but you may lose airline costs. Seven days notice is required for hotel and transfer amendments.
On The Beach has actually now paused holiday sales and will not be selling any more holidays until September. See On The Beach’s rebooking and refund policy for your holiday if you’ve already booked.
Will Trailfinders refund me if my holiday destination is added to the amber list?
Yes. Trailfinders is more flexible than most, offering a refund in this instance. See Trailfinders’ rebooking and refund policy.