Latest News

What Is the Travel Traffic Light System?

The Traffic Light System from the EU has been hotly anticipated for a long time before being recently finalised. Throughout the pandemic, each European country has had its own rules around travel and entry requirements which has led to a lot of confusion and made it difficult to keep track of requirements and restrictions. The goal of the Traffic Light System is to unify all the member states and allow for travel again.

How does it work?

On a weekly basis, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will publish a map of EU member states, which each country mapped according to its place on the traffic light system – green, orange, red and grey. Here’s what each of those means in terms of the incidence rate and test positivity rate.

  • Green: If the 14-day notification rate is lower than 25 and the test positivity rate below 4%
  • Orange: If the 14-day notification rate is lower than 50 but the test positivity rate is 4% or higher. Or, if the 14-day notification rate is between 25 and150 and the test positivity rate is below 4%
  • Red: If the 14-day notification rate is 50 or higher and the test positivity rate is 4% or higher. Or, if the 14-day notification rate is higher than 150
  • Grey: If there is insufficient information or if the testing rate is lower than 300

How is a country’s place on the Traffic Light determined?

A country’s status as green, orange, red or grey will be decided based on a few key data points that each member state will have to provide each week:

  • The number of new cases per 100,000 population in the previous 14 days (incidence rate)
  • The number of tests per 100,000 population carried out in the previous 7 days (testing rate)
  • The % of those tests with positive result carried out in the previous 7 days (test positivity rate)

What does it mean for me?

At the time of writing, Ireland is in Level 5 lockdown restrictions which puts a significant delay on our ability to plan for future travel. However, the Traffic Light System still has the same overall goal of clarifying the rules and making it possible for people to plan travel in the medium and long term.

If you are arriving from a Green status country, you will not have to restrict your movements with a 14 day quarantine upon arrival or any other restrictions.

If you are arriving from an Orange status country, you can avoid having to restrict your movements with a 14 day quarantine upon arrival or any other restrictions if you can provide a negative coronavirus test result no earlier than 3 days prior to departure.

If you are arriving from a Red status country, you would be required to restrict your movements for 14 days upon arrival. Testing is crucial to the implementation of the Traffic Light System.

A Common Framework – but each country can adopt its own rules

While the Traffic Light System requires member states to adopt a common framework and set of standards for travel, there is still some space for countries to adopt their own entry requirements so take this into account when making travel plans in the future.

Some of these may include:

  • Tests before arrival
  • Passenger Locator Forms (already required in several countries)
  • Testing/quarantine if travelling from non-Green areas

Under the Traffic Light System, movement of people from Green areas should not be restricted but there may be certain entry requirements for people from Orange or Red areas. Countries would be able to introduce other restrictions on entries from Red areas.

When will this system be adopted?

The majority of European countries have agreed to the Traffic Light System and it came into effect on Sunday 8 November.


For more information see our Coronavirus FAQ, our compiled Coronavirus Travel Advice section and our Special Assistance page.

Read More Blogs
Cassidy Travel

See more recent posts

Related Articles