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UPDATED: Everything you need to know about travel between France and the UK

Travel rules between France and the UK
Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP
As France lifts its strict travel restrictions for the UK, here's what you need to know about the rules for travel in both directions.

From the UK to France

On Friday, January 14th, France lifted the extra-strict rules that virtually banned all travel between France and the UK.

This means:

Vaccinated travellers – people who are fully vaccinated can travel for any reason and do not have provide a reason for their trip. This opens up travel for tourism, family visits and second-home owners.

However, there are still some extra requirements to travel.

All travellers aged 12 and over must show a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of your departure time. This can be either a PCR or antigen test, but NHS home-test kits are not accepted.

UK lateral flow tests that are taken at home but verified by a provider can be accepted, but travellers are urged to check with their test provider that they provide a full certificate of results and the required information for travel.

In order to be accepted for travel, you will need a certificate with a QR code stating that your test result was negative. In the UK you generally need to book a specific ‘travel test’ or ‘fit to fly certificate’ in order to get this. 

The British government’s travel advice states that self-administered NHS tests should not be used for travel purposes, and France also does not accept the NHS home tests as required proof for travel.

Essentially if you are in doubt then get an on-site test to return to France or check with your testing provider.

If you live in France, be aware that testing in the UK is very different to testing in France, you can’t just wander into a pharmacy and get a test suitable for travel purposes. Travel tests need to be booked in advance through private testing companies, and can be quite costly.

Travellers must also fill in a declaration stating that they do not have Covid symptoms – find the declaration HERE under the section for red list countries.

Once in France, there is no requirement for extra tests and no need to self-isolate.

Unvaccinated travellers – if you are not fully vaccinated then you may only travel for essential reasons – find the full list of reasons HERE.

If you qualify to travel you will need both a negative Covid test no more than 24 hours and a declaration as outlined above.

In addition to this, you will have to fill out an attestation listing your reasons for travel – find that HERE in the section for red list countries.

All unvaccinated travellers must also quarantine for 10 days on arrival in France, this can be done at home, a hotel or the home of friends and relatives.

Before leaving the UK, unvaccinated travellers will have to sign up on this online platform to register their quarantine address. Law enforcement can check at the address you have listed to ensure you are not breaking quarantine. 

Under 12s

The rules as outlined above apply to all travellers aged 12 and over.

Under 12s do not need a test, nor do they need to fill in separate travel paperwork, or self-isolate on arrival in France. 

Fully vaccinated

For travel purposes, France counts as fully vaccinated anyone who has had two shots of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna – or a single shot after being infected with Covid.

Booster shots are not required for travel purposes, although they are needed for the French domestic health pass (see below). Vaccination certificates from EU and non EU countries are accepted at the border.

In France

Once in France, bear in mind that you will need a vaccine pass to access certain venues – full details HERE. The NHS vaccination certificate is now compatible with the French vaccine pass app.

The vaccine pass is required for all over-16s and from January 15th a booster shot is required for over 18s in order to prove ‘full’ vaccination. Children aged 12-15 can use a health pass, which accepts a recent negative Covid test for teenagers who are not fully vaccinated (with both doses).

And don’t forget that since the end of the Brexit transition period there are extra restrictions in place on everything from health insurance and visas to sandwiches.

READ ALSO What Brexit has changed for British visitors to France

From France to the UK

Pre-departure tests are not required in order to enter the UK.

All passengers must fill in the Passenger Locator Form – find it HERE – before boarding transport to the UK. In recent days several travellers have reported glitches and crashes with the form, so we suggest you fill it in well in advance and don’t wait until you are at the airport/station/port.

Unvaccinated travellers must purchase a Day 2 and Day 8 test and quarantine for 10 days on arrival.

Vaccinated travellers (including UK citizens and residents) need to purchase a Day 2 test, but no longer need to self-isolate while waiting for the results. The test can be either a PCR or antigen test, but must be purchased in advance of the trip, from one of the government-approved providers. This applies to all passengers aged four and over.

Without a Day 2 booking reference you cannot complete the Passenger Locator Form which is required to board all transport to the UK.

From 4am on Friday, February 11th the requirement for a Day 2 test for vaccinated passengers will be lifted.

There are three options for tests;

  • Home tests – these test packs are sent out to the address where you will be staying. You do the test at home and then post the sample to the lab, who email you the results when ready. There have been problems with test kits for some providers not arriving at the address given, while others take up to 10 days to email out the results – even for people who have paid extra for a quick-results service.

  • Test centre tests – this involves booking in advance at a test centre near where you will be staying – people self-isolating are permitted to leave the address and go to a test centre. It can be hard to find a test centre near you, especially if you are outside London. The test centre then posts off the sample to the lab and you wait for the results by email, again this can take several days to arrive. 
  • Airport tests – it is compulsory to have booked the Day 2 test in advance, but if you want to avoid long waits for results, many airports now offer PCR tests with rapid results, in around three hours in some cases. However these are expensive.

Other things to be aware of

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided by the French health pass / EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in France – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK and still have to quarantine.

You are only permitted to use a test provider from the list of government-approved firms – find that HERE and find our guide to the Byzantine world of Day 2 tests HERE.

Anyone over the age of 4 needs to take a test on day two of arrival in the UK.

If you are staying less than two days in the UK, you still need to book the Day 2 test.

Find further information on UK travel rules HERE.


Member comments

  1. Hi The Local! I’m not sure if you reply to questions here but I was wondering where you found the information that 7-day isolation for visitors from the UK will not be enforced by police? I spoke to the Ministère de Santé this morning who insisted that UK visitors had to undergo a ten day enforced quarantine.

    Lots and lots of conflicting information out there.

    Thanks!

  2. The PCR tests in the travel test package are £100 per person per test, but there are moves afoot to get this price down otherwise no one will want to grow anywhere on an amber list!

  3. The information above is not complete – at the french border you may be asked for the following

    All foreigners when entering France should be in a position to produce to the Immigration officer the following documents:
    1. Motive of stay in France:
    – for tourism: hotel reservation (in the absence of a hotel reservation, the traveller has to prove that he possesses means of living of at least 120€ per day – see point 2, documents from a travel agency ;
    – for a professional visit: letter from the employer, invitation from a French firm or organization ;
    – for a private visit: “attestation d’accueil” delivered by the “mairie” ;
    2. Means of living (cash, traveller’s cheques, valid international credit card…) along with an insurance certificate covering all medical, hospital and funeral expenses, which may be incurred during the entire period of your stay in France, including repatriation costs on medical grounds ;
    3. Guarantees of return: return ticket.

    what is not clear from above is what second home owners or people travelling with caravans and motor homes (who may not have booked a site) may require – perhaps The Local will take this away and find out – this is rather important information as the maire may not know about this change – and the tourist situation could change at any time

  4. I wonder whether it might be possible to travel from France to UK, with a French PCR test, for just a 24 hour visit, and return to France using the same French PCR test? Have not seen anywhere that specifies WHERE the test must be taken. I know this does not negate the need to buy, in advance, the UK 2 and 8 day tests.

  5. I can’t get a definitive answer on how the French Customs intend dealing with us bringing in duty-free goods when returning to France. There is a threshold of €430 allowed before having to pay duty but opinion seems divided on whether it will be levied ‘per person’ or ‘per vehicle’. Commonsense would suggest ‘per person’ – otherwise 300 passengers on an aeroplane would only be allowed €1.4 each! But could two people in a car each receive an allowance of €430 before having to pay duty on any additional goods? Whatever it is, the rule should apply equally to all entries regardless of their method of arrival.

  6. What about driving through France on arrival en route to Italy ? Is this permitted , does quarantine apply ?
    Or driving through France to reach a second home more than a days drive away?

  7. Travel information now out of date. Covishield now accepted as of this weekend. Apparently no COVID test also

  8. So … I live in France and want to travel to the UK to see my daughter, who I haven’t seen in a year. I got the OXFORD vaccine (AstraZeneca), and I still can’t go there without all the testing and 10-day quarantine? That’s insane.

    1. I am in the same boat. My daughter lives in the UK and haven’t seen her since Christmas. I live in the US, place in France – I can’t go to the UK without a quarantine and she cant go the US or France with quarantine on return either. We are all vaccinated!! Crazy!!

      1. I’m sorry to hear that you’re in the same situation. I’m so frustrated and angry about how all of this is being handled, at this point. We have all done our part. We’ve complied with all the rules and continue to do so. But these rules make zero sense.

        1. Zero. I have even tried to get her an additional vaccine in the UK – a one-shot J&J – so we could see her in an amber country besides France next month. Apparently J&J is not available in the UK yet. The 2 shot vaccines have a long waiting period between shots – 2 months!!

          1. Yes, we waited 9 or 10 weeks between the two AZ shots. I just became fully vaccinated about 3 weeks ago (and I’m 60 years old!).

          2. Only 3-4 weeks between the two Moderna shots in France. I’ve had AZ and had to wait the full 12 weeks.

  9. Hello – so presumably if you do not stay in the UK beyond day 2, you can skip the day 2 Covid test?

    1. I was wondering that, too. What if I’m not planning to stay in the UK for more than 3 days? Are they making every single person stay in the country for a minimum of 10 days for quarantine, and then what?

      1. I travelled 2 weeks ago but only stayed for 7 days. Because you need to put a code on your locator form from an amber county it must have an 08 code, so I had to pay for both tests even though I wouldn’t use the day 8 test

    2. Taken from the uk government website

      If you’re travelling to England for less than 10 days
      If you’re travelling to England for less than 10 days, you will need to quarantine for the whole of your stay.

      You must still book your day 2 and day 8 travel tests, even if you will no longer be in England on the dates of the tests.

      You only need to take the tests if you’re still in the country on those dates.

  10. I want to understand one thing – to see if I understood correctly- if you are a family of four, two parents fully vaccinated, one boy of 11 and one of 12. The boy of 11 does not need to have an antigen or PCR test 24 hours before arriving, and the one of 12 needs the test? Any other further paperwork to fill up for him? I’ve thought that minor kids of fully vaccinated parents were treated as parents. I am assuming that even my 12 years old needs a test, he will be able to not quarantine on arrival to France…

  11. The french government have a policy of only giving one shot of vaccine if you have had covid. This is the case for me. I have a EU health passport but I am worried that the UK will not accept this as fully vaccinated as they have stuck with a 2 shot policy regardless of if you have had covid in the past. Any advice?

    1. I think you’ll be fine since other EU countries have also done this initiative and they have been letting them in. I am in the same boat as you – but if you have the EU covid passport I think it’s absolutely fine.

    2. A friend who lives in Spain had to abandon his trip to visit me in the UK because he’d only had one vaccination. He explained that in Spain you only get one vaccination if you’ve had Covid (he had). He could have come but would have had to isolate for 10 days. He’s now trying to get another vaccination.

      The problem with all of this is that the rules seem to change every few weeks. I’m supposed to be in France in February but the thought of trying to arrange 3 tests (one before I leave the UK, one before I leave France and one after I get back) is really putting me off. It might all change before then but who knows.

      So frustrating.

  12. Strange, my recent comment doesn’t show up. I was wondering if I go to the UK for just two days if I need to book the test. Would seem not.

    1. As I understand it you need a reference from the testing company to put on your passenger locator form other wise you won’t be allowed on the plane/boat.

  13. I’m just discovering that on the locator form it says this “You will need to provide a contact address while in the UK and a Day 2 test booking number.” Well I guess I will book but never show up.

  14. I have been contacted twice by NHS Test and Trace since returning from France on Monday. I had someone turn up on the doorstep yesterday and phone me demanding to know why I wasn’t there and answering the door. It seems that NHS Test and Trace have not updated their software to reflect the rule change to reflect the change in France’s status from ‘Amber plus’ to ‘Amber’. Alternatively they might just be a complete and utter shambles.

  15. As a double vaccinated (Pfizer) Brit expat planning to travel from France to England, one accepts that rules are to be followed. BUT looking at a wider view, does a negative PCR test mean one is negative for life and a positive PCR test mean positive for life? If not, for how long either way before one’s infectious condition turns to neutral (or unknown)? If the negative time is limited, what is the point if a negative test can become worthless medically or epidaemiologically, so one can spread one’s infection wherever one goes? I don’t want to be awkward but let’s get real.

    1. The way the test and trace system in the UK seems to work is that your Covid “pass” is removed from your records as soon as the positive test is reported. It should then be reinstated 10-14 days later. Apparently based on research that after 10 days you aren’t infectious.

      No idea how it works outside the UK though.

  16. How on earth can one self-isolate at the address of family or friends unless they self-isolate with you? And how can one self-isolate in a normal hotel? I doubt that many would be able or willing to leave meals at your door.

  17. For the pre-departure test to the UK you state “The test can be either a PCR or antigen test and must be taken within 48 hours of departure time. Click HERE to find out how to access Covid tests in France.” A UK statement did say this but the UK Government website says that it has to be the two days before departure, reduced from three days. It gives an example for the three days that shows three whole days. Two days allow a Saturday test if you are travelling late on Monday but 48 hours does not. With the pharmacy closed on Sunday you would have to test on the day you depart. Which is it?

  18. The 48 hour rule. We booked a tunnel crossing a few months back. 4 hour drive to Calais and 5/6 hour drive in UK so we also booked a hotel for the sunday night. Now booked pcr test for saturday afternoon and will be sitting in hotel room waiting for results. Around here sunday causes delays! This is insane. We could conceivably have driven up to Calais and if test is positive be driving back the next day. This would be the first time we have seen grandchildren (9 of the) for 2 years. Stressed, sad or angry or what?

  19. How about some information for Americans who want to visit? While I understand that the UK is important to France, how about the rest of the world, and the tourists? We spend hundreds of millions of dollars in France each and every year. And it is very confusing with the “rules policies and procedures” seemilngly changing week to week. An article specifically for Americans would be very helpful. As you seem to very specifically address issues with the UK all the time.

    1. Agreed! Further, will our CDC paper cards be acted as proof of vaccination, since we cannot get NHS or other European docs?

  20. Thanks for this informative article. Do you know if returning travellers are permitted to stop overnight between arrival in France and the self-isolation location? I can’t find this information anywhere on gouv.fr and embassy websites.

    1. Have you found out the answer to this, as I would like to know too & can’t find anywhere..? Thank you!

      1. Sorry for the slow response! I haven’t seen this officially anywhere but an article on Connexion said it is not permitted to stop overnight on the way to your isolation location. We came back into France yesterday and are staying with family in Paris before continuing south. Certainly, on the online form we had to complete with our isolation details, there was no way to indicate that you were stopping somewhere en route.

  21. On arrival in uk we had a PCR test at Ashford at 1500 on Sunday with Eurofin and received our results at 0140 on Monday by email. Excellent service.

  22. As a British National living in France with a permit I’m hoping to fly to the U.K. 2nd January. Anyone advise on completing The Certificate for Travel, France to U.K.
    Namely:
    Residing at – guess this is my French address
    Initial Place of Origin – England?
    Final Destination – England?
    I know some people have had no problems and others picked up on various misinterpretations

  23. I agree, all the coverage seems to be concerning UK travel and fishing. How about some variety and info for Americans wishing to travel and convert vaccine cards.

    1. I don’t think much has changed… US is now Red but if you are vaccinated, you just need an antigen or PCR test taken less than 24h before departure. If you are unvaccinated, you also need an essential reason to enter.

      On arrival, it’s really easy to convert your CDC card to the French vaccine passport. Just take your CDC card to a pharmacy in France, pay 36 euros, and they will give you a QR code. You can scan that into the French tousanticovid vaccine passport app. Takes less than 10 minutes (assuming there is no line at the counter). I know lots of people who have done it with no problem whatsoever. Just did one a few weeks ago at one of the pharmacies at CDG airport.
      https://fr.usembassy.gov/how-to-get-a-french-health-pass/

      It’s also very easy to get an antigen test to go back to the US. (Much easier than getting it in the States.) It’s done at many pharmacies and there are testing centers set up all over. I think we paid 25 euro for my friend a when she left.

        1. To maintain a valid COVID health pass (passe sanitaire) in France all people aged 18 and above, regardless of nationality, must have a booster (third) dose within seven months of their second dose. A health pass is required to access many places including restaurants, bars, museums, and sporting events, will expire seven months after the second dose beginning January 15. While people age 12 to 17 also need a health pass, they do not need a booster to maintain it.

  24. Something of a joke that the UK is on France’s red list, when the infection rate in France is easily double that of the UK !
    The 24 hour requirement – does this mean within 24 hours of departing for France or within 24 hours of arriving in France ? Not easy to achieve speedy, certified testing in the UK !

  25. In September 2021 after flying from France to the UK, my wife was advised by the UK test and trace system to self isolate for ten days as she was a contact of someone who had tested Covid positive since arriving in the UK. She had been fully vaccinated in France. Those people in the same situation who had been vaccinated in the UK did not have to self isolate. Does the UK test and trace system now recognise EU vaccinations , deeming it unnecessary to self isolate in same situation?

    1. Yes. I think so. The same thing happened to me. I’m fully vaccinated in Romania and have an EU vaccine certificate. But I got caught by UK test and trace in late November and was told that only vaccines administered in the UK were recognised and that I had to self isolate for 10 days. It was a ludicrous situation and caused chaos to my travel plans and a lot of extra expense. But I recently checked the test and trace website and the wording seems to have changed. It now says you are exempt if you are fully vaccinated without any reference to the vaccines having to have been administered in the UK. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works

  26. “In order to be accepted for travel, you will need a certificate with a QR code stating that your test result was negative.”

    Could someone direct me to the official page where it says a QR code is needed please. I can’t find any reference anywhere and I’m not sure any of my local test providers include a QR code.

    Thanks

  27. Does this mean that now, travelling from France to the UK as a French citizen, there is no need to justify the reason? Has this restriction been dropped?

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