International travel: Occupation, destination & vaccination

The rules governing travel to and from England seem to change on a daily basis.

From our conversations with clients, we sense that whilst the demand for international business travel has reduced considerably, there is still some residual demand.  This demand is increasing.

Online communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom have enabled us all to do more business than we might have imagined back in March 2020. 

However, there are occasions when only face to face meetings will do.

We may be more connected than ever online but sometimes there is no substitute for meeting face to face.  What happens when such a meeting requires international travel?

The answer depends on occupation, destination and vaccination.

What are those rules?

The traffic light system of red, amber and green list countries is well known. 

Countries are categorised according to perceived risk and different rules apply depending on i) 'traffic light' status and ii) the extent to which the traveller has been vaccinated.

Travel to and from red and amber list countries requires the traveller to arrange to take Covid 19 tests prior to departure and on specific days on arrival.

The principal difference is that whereas quarantine on arrival in the UK from an amber list country is still required in some circumstances (arrival from France / not fully vaccinated), managed quarantine must be booked prior to arrival in the UK from a red list country.

Note also that only returning British nationals will be permitted entry into the UK from a red list country.

Are there any exceptions?


The 'Common Travel Area' comprises the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the other nations of the United Kingdom.

If a person has not been outside of the Common Travel Area in the previous 10 days, they do not need to take a Covid test or quarantine on arrival in England. 

Are there different rules for different jobs?


The Government has introduced different requirements for certain jobs.

Examples where specific rules have been created include:

  • Elite sportspeople
  • Aerospace Engineers
  • Pilots
  • [Occupations connected with] Data Infrastructure
  • [Occupations connected with] Electronic Communications Networks

Please see follow this link to the UK Government's pages with the requirements in full for specific roles and occupations.

What does this mean for businesses?

Plainly, the UK government strongly advises against international travel to red list countries.

Put simply, you should not travel to red list countries.  This means it will be essential to document very carefully why travel to a red list country is considered necessary.

International travel and the risks associated with the return from countries on respective lists will need to be a feature of an ongoing risk assessment with a clear explanation as to why this travel is required and how the employer is going to ensure that a returning employee is aware of the rules they must follow and does not attend for work when they are required not to. 

Employers are still under a legal obligation to ensure that an employee does not attend for work when they have received a positive Covid test, if they live with someone who has tested positive for Covid 19 or if they have been instructed to self-isolate via the NHS test and trace system.

What about employees going on holiday?

The same traffic light system and rules will apply to employees travelling in their personal time.  However, if the country they travel to is re-categorised during their stay, whether or not they are able to undertake work on their return will be dependent on the nature of their role.  Some office based staff may be able to work from home if required to quarantine, but this simply won't be possible for other roles. 

Employers must therefore ensure that all employees are aware and fully understand the requirements and the company's position regarding pay and arrangements for quarantine periods following the return from private travel.  As is often the case, good lines of communication are going to be essential.

If you would like to discuss matters raised in this article in more detail please contact Nathan Peacey, Tim Williamson or Catherine Owlett.

Key Contacts