The entirety of the green/amber/red list travel regulations can be a mysterious faff. Here’s why:
- The rules change at short notice (updated at least every 3 weeks in the UK)
- The rules are slightly different in Northern Ireland, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales.
- You need to gather together information from a range of different sources (your government, destination government, epidemiologist’s office (for real), etc).
- There has been no standard vaccination certification in Northern Ireland (to change later in July and a temporary version can be acquired, which is great news).
- You REALLY need to pay attention to what the DESTINATION country requires of you. This may be different for every destination country. For example, Malta will not accept England’s NHS Covid App as evidence of vaccination. Whut?! But other countries will…
- Be prepared: you may need to take a PCR test on arrival and quarantine until a result is known (Iceland).
If you’ve been following this blog or the YouTube version recently, you’ll know that I travelled to Iceland recently. It’s a green list country for people travelling from Northern Ireland and England. I mention both as there are no direct flights to Iceland at the moment, so I had to fly from Heathrow and that meant I needed to pay attention to rules for leaving England and arriving back to England too.
What was the concern?
I was worried. The vaccination evidence I have from Northern Ireland is on a small card and it did NOT appear to match with the requirements of the Chief Epidemiologist in Iceland (and that’s who you need to please). All the information you need for travelling to Iceland is on www.covid.is.
BUT, after contacting the Embassy of Iceland (helpful, but sent me to that website) and speaking to the online chat humans on the same website (multiple times, God love them), it was clear to me that a decision about the validity of my vaccination card could NOT be made before travel. So that meant staying at home or taking a risk. The risk was that my card would not be recognised. At least if I had a negative PCR test in my back pocket, my quarantine on arrival would be limited to 5 days on arrival.
If you have a rejected Vaccination Card, but a negative PCR from up to 72 hours before travel, you will be tested on arrival in Iceland (for free and everyone is tested), asked to quarantine for 5 days, at which point you take another PCR test and – if negative – you are free to go. You can choose to stay in your own accommodation (and order in groceries/food) or use the government’s service. This is (whisper it) FREE OF CHARGE.
In the event, the border guard was perfectly happy with my card. I was so relieved. But please note, everyone has to quarantine until they get the result from their PCR test on arrival, but you can do so at your first hotel. My result was back within about 5 hours – negative – hooray! I could carry on with my holiday.
There is more to this story. You need to think about the requirements for your return journey. Is another PCR test required before leaving your green list country (answer: usually, yes). There is a Passenger Locator Form to be completed for the UK and you need to organise a PCR test for your return (but BEFORE you return). That provides you with a code which you use on your Locator Form.
I know this is a lot of detail. That’s why I’ve made the video below to explain what it was like in REAL LIFE. I had a lot of fun making this, particularly remembering that I needed to film a little bit at each stage of the journey. And this is MY experience of green list travel, using an Irish passport and having read everything from all governmental websites super-closely. Even with all that, it was a faff.
But let me tell you one thing. It was worth it. Even with all the poking and prodding. I hope you enjoy the video and remember, there may be regional variations to my experiences, so always check with your national government and the destination government BEFORE you make any bookings.