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

LATEST: Everything you need to know about travel between France and the UK
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP
The rules for travel between France and the UK change frequently - although many restrictions have now been lifted there are still requirements for extra forms and tests. Here's what you need to know.

Between the UK and France

The UK is on France’s amber list for travel, with different rules for vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers.

France’s traffic light system differentiates between vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers – find a full explanation of how it works HERE and the UK is currently on the amber list. 

From the UK to France if you are not vaccinated

Unvaccinated travellers are allowed into France for essential reasons only, meaning they have to fall into certain criteria.

You can find the full list of accepted reasons HERE but it is strict, with no travel allowed for family visits, visits from second-home owners or holidays. French citizens are permitted to enter, along with students, and EU citizens who are permanent residents of France or another EU country and non-EU citizens (including Brits) who are permanent residents of France.

You will need to show a negative Covid test at the French border – this can be either a PCR or antigen test, but must have been taken within the previous 24 hours. This applies to all unvaccinated travellers, including French or EU citizens or residents of France. Children under 12 do not need to take a test.

You will need to quarantine for seven days on arrival in France, but this can be done at a location of your choice and there will be no police checks during the quarantine period. You are also requested to take a second Covid test at the end of your quarantine period. This applies to everyone, including French or EU citizens or residents of France.

You will need to complete a declaration stating your reason for travel – you can find the declaration HERE.

You will also need to sign a declaration stating that you do not have any Covid symptoms, have not had any contact with somebody who has tested positive and will abide by the quarantine requirement. The declaration is available HERE.

From the UK and vaccinated 

You can travel to France for any reason, including holidays, with no restrictions. You do not need to quarantine nor do you need to provide a negative Covid test before travelling or after arrival, which is in stark contrast to the rules for travelling to the UK (see below).

You must only provide proof of vaccination and a declaration stating that you do not have Covid symptoms and are not a contact case, which can be found HERE.

To count as fully vaccinated travellers must:

  • Have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (including Covishield, which is now recognised by France) or Johnson & Johnson (known as Janssen in France) 
  • Be at least two weeks after the second injection for double-dose vaccines or two weeks after a single dose for those people who had previously had Covid-19
  • Be at least four weeks after the injection for people who had the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine

You can prove your vaccination status using an NHS certificate, in either paper or digital form or the EU Covid Certificate that you get if jabbed in EU countries.

Children – under 12s do not need to present a Covid test. Children over the age of 12 and not vaccinated will need to show a negative Covid test, but if they are travelling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians they do not need to prove a ‘vital reason’ for travel.

READ ALSO Can families with unvaccinated children holiday in France?

And if you’re still confused, the French Consulate in London has produced this handy flow chart for travel.

Once in France, bear in mind that you will need a health passport to access certain venues – full details HERE. On August 4th France announced that anyone with an NHS vaccine certificate can upload it to France’s TousAntiCovid app and it will be accepted for entry into venues such as museums and restaurants. 

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

On August 4th the UK government updated its rules for travel from France after coming under pressure and being subject to much ridicule for classifying France as “amber-plus” – unlike all other EU countries which were amber.

The updated travel advice applies to arrivals in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

From 4am on Sunday, August 8th France moved to the amber list alongside other EU countries – with the big change meaning fully vaccinated travellers no longer need to quarantine for 10 days. 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). 

There are two important differences to the UK rules;

  1. If you have recovered from Covid and only had one vaccine dose, you are considered to be fully vaccinated by French authorities, but crucially not by the UK, meaning you will still need to quarantine.
  2. The UK insists that both your doses must be of the same vaccine, so if you had – for example one AstraZeneca and one Pifizer – you are not considered fully vaccinated and still need to quarantine.

All travellers will need a negative Covid test taken within the previous 72 hours – Covid tests are currently free in France for residents and you can find out how to get one HERE. UK rules allow either a PCR test or an antigen test of more than 97 percent specificity and 80 percent sensitivity – the standard antigen tests available at pharmacies in France meet these requirements but home-testing kits do not.

Everyone needs to fill in the passenger locator form – find the form HERE.

You also need to take more tests after arrival in the UK but – crucially – these need to be booked before you leave France. The tests, known as Day 2 and Day 8 tests, are in the main home testing kits that are posted out to your address in the UK (although can you also pre-book a clinic test).

When you book and pay in advance you receive a booking reference, and you cannot complete the passenger locator form required to enter the UK without this booking code.

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.

Which tests you need depend on whether you are vaccinated or not.

Travellers who aren’t vaccinated need to quarantine at home in the place you are staying for 10 days. You must also take a Covid test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of your quarantine.

These tests are compulsory and cost on average an eye-watering £120 per person – you can find the list of approved providers HERE. You have the option of paying an extra roughly £100 to finish your quarantine on day 5.

If you are fully vaccinated, you still need to book and take a travel test on day 2, but you do not need to quarantine or take another test on day 8. Same applies if you are under 18 and live in the UK or a country with a vaccination programme approved by the UK.

Children under 10 do not need to take the pre-travel tests but anyone over 4 needs to take a test on day two of arrival in the UK.

And yes, you must book and pay for the Day 2 test even if you intend to stay in the UK for less than two days.

Find further information on UK travel rules HERE.

And a word of warning – many people who have travelled to the UK have reported issues with Day 2 tests not arriving on time, or results for Day 2 or Day 5 tests taking many days longer than promised to arrive.

You can also expect to be contacted – either by phone or with a visit – by Test and Trace, and some people have reported that these calls and visits are intrusive, harassing or even intimidating.

If you are not vaccinated and therefore need a test to return to France, do not expect accessing a test to be as easy and cheap/free as it is in France. 

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.


  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.

  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.

  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.

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