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How to return to Hong Kong from Britain

Caught in the United Kingdom and hoping to return to Hong Kong? The bad news is flights are banned from this week, the good news is there are plenty of places you can head for your 21 day ‘wash out’. And if you pick the right destination, you could see your Hong Kong quarantine time slashed.

Taking the slow road back to Hong Kong via the Seychelles.

The pain of the pandemic is being increasingly felt by the world’s internationally-facing families, especially those living in Asia Pacific with interests elsewhere in the world. From uni students in Australia to borders in British schools, returning home to Asia has been an ordeal for more than a year now.

To add to the misery, the Hong Kong government this week banned all UK flights from landing in the city, thereby rendering thousands of Hong Kong-resident students, many under the age of 18, homeless for the summer.

The new ruling means that all those returning to Hong Kong from the UK must now undergo a 21 night (or 22 day) ‘wash out’ in a third country. This is the second time Hong Kong has introduced such a ban on UK flights, but unlike the first cancellation during the European winter, this time there are plenty of countries open to UK arrivals.

Plus, if you ‘wash out’ in a third country that falls into Hong Kong’s B or C country groupings, are fully vaccinated and take an antibody test, you could see your Hong Kong quarantine slashed to seven days according to new rules due to be brought in from July.


Germany has been pushing for European Union countries to ban or restrict entry to arrivals from the UK due to rising cases of the Delta variant in Britain, coupled with Europe’s slower vaccination roll-out. However, EU countries are not obliged to follow EU recommendations. Some, like Portugal and Spain, have tightened testing or vaccination requirements, but so far only Germany and the Netherlands have introduced an outright ban.

The information here is correct at the time of publication, but always check the latest travel updates before you embark on a journey as this is a fluid situation with constantly changing rules and requirements. Proof of vaccination regulations also vary country to country; make sure you research exactly what is required before departure.


France has a traffic light system for arrivals; most countries fall into the amber category, including the UK. Amber means that fully vaccinated arrivals are permitted to enter without quarantine. Travellers must present a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours, a signed ‘déclaration d’honneur’ stating they are not suffering from Covid-19 symptoms and proof of vaccination. Children under the age of 11 are exempt. If you’re not vaccinated, you will only be permitted to enter France for an essential travel reason and you must self-isolate for seven days.


UK arrivals are banned from entering Germany, with exemptions for German nationals and their families.


Soaking up the sun quarantine-free in Greece (photo courtesy Unsplash/Nikos Zacharoulisnikos).

Arrivals can enter quarantine-free if they are a permanent resident of the UK, Greece, or the EU. Permanent residents of China and Singapore are also permitted entry, but there is no reference on the government website specifically referring to Hong Kong residents. Arrivals must complete a passenger locator form and UK arrivals must provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours, or proof of an antigen test, or proof of full vaccination. These regulations apply to all arrivals over the age of 12 years. Arrivals may be asked for a further test on arrival.


Fully vaccinated UK arrivals may enter quarantine-free with a test on arrival. Quarantine measures must be followed until the result is returned (usually around 24 hours). From July 1, full vaccination means two weeks must have passed since the final inoculation shot, or from the single dose of the Janssen vaccine. Proof of vaccination must be provided. If you are not vaccinated, you may only enter Iceland for a limited number of reasons. On arrival you will be 'encouraged' to download the Rakning C-19 Covid-19 tracing app.


Arrivals from the UK or have been in the UK during the previous 14 days must self-isolate for five days after arrival and take a rapid antigenic or swab test at the end of this period. Arrivals must also have proof of a negative rapid antigenic or swab test taken within 48 hours of departure. Children under six years are exempt. Travellers must also fill in a digital form online. These regulations will be reviewed on July 30.


From June 30, all arrivals from the UK must show proof of full vaccination. Children aged five to 11 must be accompanied by fully vaccinated parents or guardians and must show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. Children aged 12 to 18 years must be fully vaccinated. Children under five years are exempt. All travellers must complete a Public Health Travel Declaration Form and Passenger Locator Form. Temperature screening will be carried out on arrival. Details on proof of vaccination can be found here.

The Netherlands

Non-EU nationals and nationals of non-Schengen states, including the UK, are not permitted to enter for non-essential purposes. There are exemptions for UK nationals who hold Dutch residency.

Portugal, including Madeira and Azores

Quarantine-free entry for all fully vaccinated arrivals from the UK (under 12s are exempt). You must also arrive with proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel, or an antigen test taken within 48 hours of travel. If you are not vaccinated, you must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. This policy will be reviewed on July 11.


UK arrivals are free to enter without quarantine, but from midnight on July 2 must have a negative Covid-19 test result or proof of full vaccination.


UK arrivals may enter without quarantine if fully vaccinated, with no need to present any test results. Travellers from the UK who are not vaccinated must self-isolate for ten days and report their arrival to the relevant cantonal authority.


Quarantine-free entry for those travelling from the UK, but you must have a negative PCR test and have completed an online form within 72 hours of travel. Medical screening, such as temperature checks, may also be carried out on arrival.

Rest of the world

Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Camel trekking in the Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi.

Travellers from the UK must have a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. Arrivals into Abu Dhabi must also take a Covid-19 PCR test on arrival. Arrivals into Dubai may be asked for an additional test on arrival.

(Please note that the United Arab Emirates is currently on the UK’s red list and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is advising against all but essential travel due to Covid-19 risks).


All arrivals to the Maldives, including those from the UK, must present a negative PCR test issued within 96 hours of departure and fill in a Traveller Health Declaration Form 24 hours before departure. Medical screening, such as temperature checks, will take place on arrival.


All fully vaccinated travellers can enter Mauritius quarantine-free from July 15, but they must remain at their holiday resort for the first 14 days (use of resort facilities including pools is permitted). From September 30, vaccinated arrivals will be allowed to leave their resort on presentation of a negative PCR test. From October 1, vaccinated travellers will be allowed entry without restrictions with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. No visa is required for entry to Mauritius.


Quarantine-free entry to all arrivals in Seychelles on presentation of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. Travellers must stay in approved accommodation. Medical screening, such as temperature checks, will be carried out on arrival. A visa is not required if you are a British passport holder.

Thailand (Phuket)

The Phuket Sandbox programme launches in July.

The much-anticipated Phuket Sandbox programme launches on July 1. This means that travellers from all low and medium risk countries (Hong Kong and Singapore are low risk, the UK is medium risk) can enter Phuket quarantine-free. However, restrictions do apply. PCR tests and approved accommodation must be pre-booked before departure and arrival is only permitted into Phuket from international departure points - please note that at this stage there is no transit permitted through Bangkok or other Thai airports. Travellers must remain in Phuket for the first 14 days.

All information is correct at time of publication. This is a fluid situation, please check the most up-to-date travel information before embarking on your journey. Also make sure to verify how to demonstrate your vaccination status as requirements vary country to country.

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