Finally, Turkey is off the UK Covid Red list – here’s everything you need to know about the new travel rules

Last week, Turks finally received the news they’d been waiting for since May, that the British government had removed Turkey from its Covid Red list.

From 4am on Wednesday 22 September, Turkey moved to the Amber list, meaning those returning to Britain no longer have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days at cost to themselves. The news, first announced on Twitter by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, also included details about other significant changes to UK travel rules.

“TRAVEL UPDATE: we’re making testing easier for travel. From Mon 4 Oct, if you’re fully vax you won’t need a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non-red country and from later in Oct, will be able to replace the day 2 PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow.

“In addition, EIGHT countries and territories will come off the red list Red circle from Weds 22 Sept at 4am, incl. TURKEY, PAKISTAN and MALDIVES.”

For the past two months, Turks had been left frustrated and angry that countries with a far higher coronavirus infection and a worse record of vaccinations than Turkey had been moved to the Amber list by the UK’s Department of Transport, while Turkey was stubbornly kept on the high risk Red list.

Between 12 May and 21 September, those travelling to England from Turkey had to pay £1,750 per adult (increased to £2,285 in August) for mandatory quarantine. The cost alone deprived many families of the chance to see each and tend to other vital matters in their ethnic homeland this summer.

Turkey’s Red categorisation was also bad news for Turkish Cypriots and British expats living in North Cyprus. Although the UK categorises the whole of Cyprus as Amber, it refuses direct flights from the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. As a result, those travelling to Britain from Ercan Airport must transit in Turkey, which meant they are categorised arriving from a Red list country.

The alternative was to travel via South Cyprus, which left North Cyprus passengers open to hostile treatment and discrimination from some Greek Cypriot officials and airport check-in staff at Larnaca and Paphos Airports, who refused to accept their negative PCR test results for the simple fact that they had been obtained in the TRNC.

Amber UK rules for Turkey and TRNC transit passengers

With Turkey now on Amber, those arriving in England no longer have to do quarantine. They do still need to obtain a negative PCR test 72 hours before travelling, though this rule is set to change from 4 October.

Each passenger must complete the UK’s online Passenger Locator Form before they travel. Regardless of whether a person is vaccinated or not, they must also have booked and paid for their UK PCR tests. Proof of these items will be required at check-in and also at the UK border, so store either on your smart phone or tablet, or have hard copies.

If a person is vaccinated and their vaccination certificate is recognised by the UK, then they need only do a Day 2 PCR test when they return to England.

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If they are not vaccinated or if their certificate is not recognised by the UK, which is the case for those vaccinated in Turkey or the TRNC, then they need to do home quarantine for 10 days and have booked Day 2 and Day 8 PCR tests before you arrive in England. A person can also end quarantine early under the Test to Release scheme with an additional Day 5 PCR test, which also has to be booked before you travel back to Britain.

Children under 18 are exempt from home quarantine regardless of their vaccination status.

Changes from 4 October

The Transport Minister also announced international travel rule changes that will take effect on Monday 4 October 2021.

The UK will be scrapping the traffic light system, and is instead creating a simplified method to manage Covid risks for arrivals from around the world.


From 4 October, there will just be a Red list for countries that are deemed high risk. Unless they are a British or Irish citizen or have UK residency, entry into England will be barred for people if they have been in a Red list country 10 days before travelling to the UK.

The entry rules to England for those travelling from other countries will depend on a person’s vaccination status. The UK has approved Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines, and alongside its own certificates, it also accepts those issued by any European Union country, along with Switzerland and the USA.


A person must have had a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before they arrive in England to be considered fully vaccinated, and have proof of this. If a person qualifies as vaccinated, they need only:

– book and pay for a Day 2 COVID-19 test – to be taken after arrival in England

– complete your passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before you arrive in England

Under the new rules, they do not need to:

– take a pre-departure PCR test

– take a Day 8 COVID-19 test

– quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days after you arrive in England

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If a person is fully vaccinated, but their country’s vaccination certificate is not currently recognised, or they are only partially vaccinated, they must follow the non-vaccinated rules.

Before they travel to England they must:

– take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test – to be taken in the 3 days before you travel to England

– book and pay for Day 2 and Day 8 COVID-19 PCR tests – to be taken after arrival in England

– complete your passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before you arrive in England

After they arrive in England they must:

– quarantine at home or in the place for are staying for 10 days

– take a COVID-19 test on or before Day 2 and on or after Day 8

– They can end their quarantine early by paying for a private COVID-19 Day 5 test through the Test to Release scheme.

For more information, visit the UK government website, Entering the UK during coronavirus.