Travel restrictions have become increasingly divergent since the arrival of the Omicron variant. Many countries have tightened their entry requirements, especially for those who are not currently fully vaccinated. Spain, for example, has banned the entry of most unvaccinated travellers for tourism purposes — although you can still gain entry for holidays if you’re an EU citizen, a family of one, or are normally resident in the country.
But even if you’re not fully vaccinated, there are still places you can go. Most destinations will require a Covid test before travel but some have other restrictions too. Here’s what you need to know.
Main photo: Oia village in Santorini (Getty Images)
Where can I travel without a vaccine?
If you are not fully vaccinated, you still have plenty of options when it comes to holiday destinations. However, you may need to take a Covid test before travel and/or on arrival. A period of quarantine — either in an accommodation of your choice or at a government facility — may also be mandatory. In some cases you may be able to get around these extra requirements by showing proof of recent recovery from Covid, or a medical exemption from getting vaccinated.
It’s always worth checking before you travel as restrictions between different countries can vary significantly. Croatia, for example, accepts four different documents for entry including: proof of a vaccination received in the last 365 days, a negative antigen test from the last 48 hours, a negative PCR test from the last 72 hours or a doctor’s certificate showing recent recovery from Covid. The Dominican Republic, meanwhile, will only accept a negative PCR test result from the previous 72 hours in lieu of full vaccination.
For much of Egypt you’ll need a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before travel, but some coastal resorts are accepting PCR tests on arrival with mandatory self-isolation until the results come back negative. And for El Salvador, neither testing nor vaccination is required for entering the country. As for Greece, vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers are treated the same — they all need to take a Covid test before travel but there’s no need for quarantine in either case.
Which countries allow unvaccinated travellers?
The countries below are open to unvaccinated travellers from the UK for tourism purposes. You don’t need to be a resident or citizen, or have recently recovered from Covid. Very few countries require quarantine — unless of course you test positive for Covid on arrival — but check your destination requirements first to be sure. These restrictions can change at any time so do double check before you travel.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Cape Verde
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- North Macedonia
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- St Lucia
- St Maarten
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
Do I need to quarantine on returning to the UK if I’m not vaccinated?
At the moment, travellers who are not fully vaccinated need to take a pre-departure Covid test in the 48 hours before travelling to the UK; PCR and lateral flow tests are both accepted. A passenger locator form is also required.
On arrival in the UK, you’ll need to complete ten full days of quarantine in a location of your choice, whether it’s your home, other private accommodation or hotel. The day you arrive is day 0, so your quarantine countdown starts from the day after you arrive. You’ll also need to pre-book a Covid testing package before arriving in the UK — a PCR Covid test is required on day 2 and day 8. The Test to Release scheme is not available to those who are not fully vaccinated.
The rules are changing on February 11. Unvaccinated travellers will no longer have to self-isolate if they arrive in the UK after 4am on that Friday. Before they travel to the UK, they will still need to take a Covid test (PCR or lateral flow) in the 48 hours before departure and fill in the passenger locator form. And after they land, they must take a pre-booked PCR test by the end of day 2, where the day of arrival is day 0.
What are the travel rules now? UK Covid restrictions explained
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