The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel & Operator Liability) (England) Regulations


Who does it apply to?

These Regulations apply to most international travellers who arrive in England having begun their journey outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man – as well as to travellers arriving from within the CTA who have been outside the CTA in the 10 days preceding their arrival.


Travellers arriving in England who have remained entirely within the CTA during the preceding 10 day are not affected by these regulations.

Requirements are also set out for transport operators.


When did it change?

These Regulations came into force on 17 May 2021.


What does it mean?

This Statutory Instrument gives legal effect to the “traffic light” country system, which aims to allow the public to understand COVID requirements when travelling to England:

  1. Countries deemed lower-risk have been added to Schedule 1 to the Regulations - category 1. These countries are referred to as “green-list countries”.

  2. Countries deemed moderate-risk have been added to Schedule 2 to the Regulations - category 2 and are referred to as “amber-list countries”.

  3. Countries deemed high-risk have been added to Schedule 3 to the Regulations - category 3 and is referred to as “red-list countries”.

The Regulations also provide for a small number of exemptions from various requirements for individuals whose jobs are critical to maintaining the flow of critical goods, protecting essential services or facilitating Government work. It also introduces an exemption for elite sportspersons competing in a small number of specified events who have departed from or transited through a red-list country.

To ensure compliance with the measures in this instrument, fixed penalty notices may be issued to anyone aged 18 or over where there are reasonable grounds to believe they have committed an offence (for example by not complying with self-isolation requirements).

Obligations are also imposed on operators to ensure that non-compliant passengers are not brought to England. Operators are also required to ensure information is provided to passengers about COVID-19, COVID-19 disease and related duties and public health guidance. The information must be provided to passengers before they book their travel, when they check in and whilst they are on board the vessel, aircraft or train.


What’s changed?

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 (the 2020 Regulations) came into force on 8 June 2020 and required people arriving in England from (i) outside the common travel area or (ii) elsewhere in the common travel area where they had been outside the common travel area in the previous 14 days to:

  1. self-isolate and

  2. provide their personal details and travel information.

The 14-day period was later shortened to 10 days.

The 2020 Regulations were amended more than 50 times and (approximately) tripled in length between June 2020 and May 2021. Key changes included:

  • The introduction (and later suspension) of travel corridors.

  • Requiring people arriving in England from outside the common travel area to possess notification of a negative Coronavirus test result (Pre-Departure Testing).

  • Introducing enhanced measures, including requiring arrival at specified ports and self-isolation in managed accommodation, for arrivals from countries and territories assessed as posing (or potentially posing) an acute risk to public health (‘red list’ countries and territories).

  • Allowing a person arriving from a country or territory (other than one on the red list) to leave self-isolation upon receipt of a negative test result.

  • Prohibiting the arrival of vehicles in England directly from certain red list countries and territories.

  • Introducing requirements for tests to be taken after arrival in England, with separate regimes for the general public and specific workforces.

  • Introducing a small number of exemptions from various requirements for individuals whose jobs are critical to maintaining the flow of critical goods, protecting essential services or facilitating Government work.

The 2020 Regulations were complemented by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Public Health Information for International Passengers) (England) Regulations 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Pre-Departure Testing and Operator Liability) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, which collectively required the operators of commercial transport services to ensure that passengers had complied with applicable requirements before arriving in England and were provided with public health information before and during travel.


This Statutory Instrument consolidates the measures described above and introduces the green list for countries and territories from which travel to England is assessed as posing a lower risk to public health. The green, amber and red lists are referred to as categories 1, 2 and 3 (respectively) in the Instrument.

The measures applicable to amber/category 2 arrivals are the same as the measures applicable to arrivals from all countries and territories (other than those on the red list) under the 2020 Regulations; the measures applicable to red/category 3 arrivals remain unchanged.

Almost all the measures included in this Instrument are already in force through:

  • The 2020 Regulations.

  • The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Public Health Information for International Passengers) Regulations 2020.

  • The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel, Pre-Departure Testing and Operator Liability) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021.

These are revoked and replaced by this Instrument.

The regulations are available here.

Parliament May 2021

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