Have You Packed this Bag Yourself?

From Monday, the rules for travelling abroad are changing. While it won’t affect people just going on and off the island, for those of us chasing winter sun, having a weekend break, going to a Christmas market or popping over to see Mickey Mouse, it will mean changes for arriving back in the UK.

In light of this, and because he was worried about his own travel plans, Sam has looked at the rules that come into force on October 4 for some of Brits (and Manxies) favourite holiday spots.

What is Changing?

As of 4am on October 4, the UK’s traffic light system will be replaced with a simpler system with just two lists, which we’re going to call ‘Red and Rest’. The red list countries, those considered the highest risk, will stay as it is, with people coming into the UK from those countries needing to pay for quarantining in a hotel.

Photo by Tsvetoslav Hristov on Unsplash

But as for amber and green, the ‘Rest’ list, if you have been double jabbed, you will not have to take a PCR test before travelling to the UK but, you are still required to take a PCR test two days after arrival. However, if you’re travelling onto the Isle of Man, you don’t need to do this. Test to release remains an option for unvaccinated travellers, otherwise they will have to take a pre-departure test and self-isolate for 10 days. 

You can check on which countries are on which list here.

These rules are also set to change in the coming weeks for people arriving in England, with the gov saying people will be able to use lateral flow tests instead. Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are yet to make it clear what they’ll be doing.

Whatever your vaccine status, people arriving in England need to fill in a passenger locator form. The UK gov says on its website that this does include people transitioning onto the island. To fill it in, select transit exemption, you may need to show evidence of onward travel.

For these countries, you can use the NHS Covid Pass to prove your vaccine status unless where stated. 


A quick note, if you want to go to the good ol’ US of A, you can from November, but only if you’ve been double jabbed. There is an issue with the AstraZeneca jab being accepted, but this is likely to be cleared up by the time changes come in there. Visitors will need to take part in testing and contact tracing.

The path to America finally looks clearer. Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

Viva Espana

If you’re heading to Spain for a bit of warmth and sangria, everyone over 12 will need to prove they’ve either had a negative PCR test within 72 hours of travelling or been double jabbed at least 14 before travelling. You need to fill in a health control form no more than 48 hours before heading to Spain. 

Anyone for Benidorm? Photo by Maksim Ivanov on Unsplash

In Spain, there are rules on wearing coverings in enclosed public places and crowded outdoor spaces which apply to everyone aged 6 and over. Social distancing is also in place, set at 1.5m and different regions may have their own rules on night time curfews and restrictions on the number of people allowed in public spaces, so check before you book and travel. 

If you’re going to the Canary Islands, hotels there (and in some parts of the mainland) require proof of vaccination, a negative test or proof of recent recovery from Covid.

When coming back to the UK, as of Monday you just need to follow the rules at the top of the page.

If you’re going to Gibraltar, there are different rules and we refer you to the UK Gov’s page for that. 


Mainland Portugal does not yet accept the NHS Covid pass as proof of vaccination so anyone travelling to the country aged 12 or over must show a negative result from a PCR test taken less than 72 hours before you arrive in Portugal, or an approved lateral flow test within 48 hours.

Before getting to Portugal, you need to fill in this locator form and you may be temperature checked on arrival. 

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

But of course, it isn’t this simple. If you’re going to The Azores, they also aren’t accepting the NHS Covid pass so you need to show a negative PCR test and fill in this form and take extra tests if staying for more than a week.

If you’re going to Madeira, you must fill in their traveller questionnaire. However, they are accepting the Covid Pass and you will be health screened on arrival and will be asked to prove vaccine status or a negative test result. 

When in Portugal, there are A LOT of rules, these include:

  • Social distancing of 2m
  • Face masks worn in all enclosed indoor spaces and in outdoor spaces where it isn’t possible to maintain social distancing
  • Restaurants, bars and cafes must close by 2am
  • No dancing is allowed in nightclubs
  • Drinking in public is restricted to when sat in a restaurant or cafe
  • Maximum of eight people can eat together indoors or 15 outdoors
  • Be prepared to show evidence of vaccination or negative test on entry to bars and restaurants (aged 12 and over)
  • You’ll probably also have to show these when checking into your accommodation
  • Cultural facilities are at 75% capacity
  • Beaches have one way systems and sunshades/towels should be 3m apart
  • But, golf courses are open

For travelling back to the UK, the rules are as above.


You have to be doubled jabbed to enter Malta, children aged 5-11 can travel but don’t need to take a PCR test 72 hours before arrival and under 5s don’t need to be tested. Children aged 12-17 are required to be vaccinated. You can use the NHS form and must fill in a passenger locator and public health declaration form.

Photo by Ferenc Horvath on Unsplash

When there, face coverings are compulsory in indoor and outdoor public places but are no longer required on beaches. Two people, who have proof of vaccination, are allowed to remove masks in outdoor public places. But 2m social distancing is encouraged, restaurants and cafes are limited to six to a table and nightclubs are closed.

For travelling back, see above.


Before going, you must fill in a landing form and provide evidence of vaccination, a negative PCR or lateral flow test or proof of being recently recovered from Covid. The NHS Digital Pass can be used to prove vaccination but you may still be required to take a rapid Covid test on arrival and would be required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days if positive. You may also have to self-isolate if other people on your flight or boat test positive. 

Photo by Patrick on Unsplash

You must wear a face mask in all indoor public and communal spaces. According to Discover Greece, outdoor restaurants, cafes and bars are open up to 85% capacity, serving only seated customers and 10 people per table and people visiting restaurants or entertainment venues must be able to prove vaccine or negative status. 

For coming back, it’s as above.


You must fill in an online form which will generate a QR code and may be asked to present this before travel or by border police. You can also get a paper version. You are also required to wear a medical mask onboard all flights to and from Italy. 

There is no need to quarantine if you can prove you are fully vaccinated and present a negative PCR or lateral flow test taken within 48 hours before arrival. Your NHS Covid Pass is accepted to prove vaccine status. 

Unvaccinated travellers, or those arriving without proof of vaccination and a negative test, will be required to self-isolate for five days. You will need to contact the regional health office to tell them where you will be self-isolating. You must travel to your final destination by private only and also take a test at the end of the five-day period.

Photo by Patrick on Unsplash

You need a green pass to enter many public places, but the NHS Covid Pass will be accepted. This must be in the form of a QR code but you can get a 48 hour pass from a local pharmacy if you take a rapid test. Children under 12 are exempt. There are still some rules in places including masks or coverings in public places, and social distancing of 1m, while there are also some restrictions on capacity. 

For returning to the UK, see above.

Le France

If you are fully jabbed, you can enter France as long as you can provide evidence of this and complete a sworn statement form. The NHS Pass will be accepted for this. 

Face masks are required in enclosed public spaces, there is no requirement to wear them in open places except for some exceptions like markets and sports stadiums. Children under 11 are exempt. 

Photo by chaker tatouh on Unsplash

Adults and those aged 12-17 need a ‘pass sanitaire’ to attend larger events and a range of places like bars, restaurants, museums and public transport etc. To get this, you need to prove vaccine status etc, again this can be done through the NHS Covid Pass. 

You can either scan your QR code into the French ‘TousAntiCovid’ app or by requesting a code from the French government by filling this form

As for coming back to the UK, it’s the same rules as above. However, the French islands of La Reunion and Mayotte are on the red list. 


You must provide a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival and fill in an online form and expect to have a medical check for Covid symptoms, including temperature tests. 

Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash

There are different rules in different parts of Turkey based on the risk of Covid. We’re going to defer to the UK Gov’s website to explain this. 

Turkey has been on the red list for quite some time, but it has recently gone amber, so travelling back from the country to the UK will be the same as the other countries.

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