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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: What do I need to do when I return to France from UK?

One group of people who are allowed to travel between France and UK over Christmas are French residents or British citizens visiting friends and family in the UK - but what is the procedure for testing and quarantine when they return to France?

Reader question: What do I need to do when I return to France from UK?
Arrivals in France from the UK face strict checks. Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

Question: I’m British and I live in France. I’m currently in the UK where I have been spending Christmas with my family. I’m due to travel back in a couple of days, but I’m confused about what paperwork I need and how long I need to quarantine for?

Since December 18th strict rules have been in place that cover travel from France to the UK and vice versa. So if you either left before the new rules came into play or you fit into the “essential motives” for travel, there are some things you need to know about the return journey.

Before you travel back to France?

The first thing you need to do is get a test. This can be either a PCR or antigen test, but it must have been taken within 24 hours of your departure time.

Be aware that testing in the UK is not like it is in France and you cannot simply wander into a pharmacy to get an antigen test.

In order to be accepted for travel you need a full results certificate or report with information such as the type of test, date and time and the name of the provider. This will be checked by the travel company such as Eurotunnel and possibly also by border police. (An example below)

Not all tests offer this in the UK, so you may need to book a specific travel test or a ‘fit to fly’ test. French rules specify that most home-test kits are not accepted, but certain types of test that are done at home and then sent to a laboratory for processing can be accepted. This covers some types of Day 2 test, but check with your provider.

Feedback from people who have made the journey suggests that the least stressful option is to go to an airport and get a rapid-result PCR test, although these can be expensive, or a for cheaper option an on-site antigen test. These generally need to be booked in advance.

Paperwork

At the border you will need to present a hefty file of paperwork. Some transport operators also require you to upload the relevant forms to their website before you arrive at the airport/port/terminal so check carefully the requirements for travel.

You will need;

  • A negative Covid test result, taken within 24 hours of your departure time.
  • Attestation de déplacement vers la France Métropolitaine depuis le Royaume-Uni – this is the form you fill out explaining why your journey is essential. Residents or citizens of France have their own box to tick and you can prove your status with either a passport or residency card, or a long-stay visa. You can find the form on the French government website HERE. The website offers it in several formats – if you intend to print it out download the Pdf, if you want to fill it in online download the Word or TXT document, fill and the details and then save it as a Pdf.
  • Declaration sur l’honneur – this is the form you fill in declaring that you do not have Covid symptoms and have not knowingly been in recent contact with Covid patients. You can find it HERE.
  • The Eos online quarantine form – this form is the one used to alert the authorities to your quarantine address. You fill in the online form HERE and submit your details, whereupon it generates a QR code for you to show at the border.
  • Proof of vaccination – the new rules do not actually distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers, but if required you can prove your vaccinated status using the TousAntiCovid or NHS app.

Quarantine

Once you’re back in France, that is not the end of the process.

You must quarantine for 10 days – although this can be ended early if you test negative for Covid 48 hours after your arrival – and the quarantine can be done at an address of your choice, including your home, a hotel or the home of family or friends.

When you fill in your Eos form you receive a formal Arret préfectoral, issued by the préfecture that covers your arrival location (not where you live, so for example everyone arriving via Eurotunnel receives an Arret from the Pas de Calais authorities). This is an official document that orders you to undertake a quarantine. Breaking an order like this from the préfecture is an offence.

The Arret lists your name and quarantine address and requires you to stay there for 10 days, or until a negative Covid test is performed 48 hours after the time of your arrival in France.

During your quarantine period, police can come and check up on you, although if you need to run essential errands you are allowed to do this between 10am and 12 noon. You should stay within 1km of your home address to complete essential errands like food shopping, where delivery is not possible. 

It is permitted for close family members to visit during your quarantine, although the visit must take place in a well-ventilated room and mask-wearing and social distancing should be observed. It is recommended that visits last no longer than four hours. 

If you decide to take the test after 48 hours this can be either a PCR or antigen test, and there is no requirement to register the results, once you get a negative result you are free to leave quarantine.

What about children?

The above rules all apply to children aged 12 and over. Under 12s do not need to take a test before departure, nor do they need their own separate versions of the forms.

Once in France, under 12s are not required to quarantine, so children can go to school or holiday club while their parents quarantine.

Member comments

  1. I followed the published guidelines and returned Portsmouth to Caen then drove home with no problems encountered.
    Negative test day before travel and after 48 hours Ok so all is good.

    Happy safe New Year to all.

    1. Where did you get/do your French test? Did you get one on the way? Or go into a pharmacie when you got to/near your home? We have a two day drive from Calais to our new home, so we’re wondering where/when to get our tests…

  2. Can someone please define quaranteen?

    Does it mean when you get to your French residence, you lock yourself in?
    Are you allowed out to buy groceries or whatever or do you need a friend to be a temporary caregiver?

  3. I just got back from UK. I used Randox Certifly to get into France. 21 pounds (75 at airport) and got the certificate to fly and QR code emailed to me minutes after uploading the test to the app.

  4. Is it possible to stop for a night on the return?. We are coming back to France (Pyrenees) later in the month with our dog and usually stop halfway for a night as it’s a long way.

  5. Arrived at Marseille last night and drove down to Perpignan. Obviously more paperwork required at Border but the same for everyone. To be honest main emphasis and checking was in relation to the online portal form and scanning the QR code. Staff knew what was required and were being professional but not at all difficult. Like so many of our recent experiences travelling to and from France you just need to be organised before you leave the house. Most complaints or moans that I hear of are from people who don’t make the effort to understand what is required. I am afraid that if you want to travel in Covid times you have to accept it is more difficult and needs a bit more planning. If you turn up at a port or airport and don’t have paperwork or relevant Covid tests done then sorry but that is your look out.

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For members

MONEY

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

If you're visiting Italy from outside the EU you risk running up a huge phone bill in roaming charges - but there are ways to keep your internet access while avoiding being hit by extra charges.

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

Travelling without access to the internet is almost impossible these days. We use our phones for mapping applications, contacting the Airbnb, even scanning the QR code for the restaurant menu.

If you’re lucky enough to have a phone registered in an EU country then you don’t need to worry, thanks to the EU’s cap on charges for people travelling, but people visiting from non-EU countries – which of course now includes the UK – need to be careful with their phone use abroad.

First things first, if you are looking to avoid roaming charges, be sure to go into your settings and turn off “data roaming.” Do it right before your plane lands or your train arrives – you don’t want to risk the phone company in your home country starting the clock on ‘one day of roaming fees’ without knowing it.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

But these days travelling without internet access can be difficult and annoying, especially as a growing number of tourist attractions require booking in advance online, while restaurants often display their menus on a QR code.

So here are some techniques to keep the bills low.

Check your phone company’s roaming plan

Before leaving home, check to see what your phone plan offers for pre-paid roaming deals.

For Brits, if you have a phone plan with Three for example, you can ask about their “Go Roam” plan for add-on allowance. You can choose to pay monthly or as you go. Vodafone offers eight day and 15 day passes that are available for £1 a day.

For Americans, T-Mobile offers you to add an “international pass” which will charge you $5 per day. Verizon and AT&T’s roaming plans will charge you $10 per day. For AT&T, you are automatically opted into this as soon as your phone tries to access data abroad.

READ ALSO: Seven things to do in Italy in summer 2022

These all allow you to retain your normal phone number and plan.

Beware that these prices are only available if you sign up in advance, otherwise you will likely be facing a much bigger bill for using mobile data in Italy. 

Buy a pre-paid SIM card

However, if you are travelling for a longer period of time it might work out cheaper to turn off your phone data and buy a pre-paid SIM card in Italy.

In order to get a pre-paid SIM card, you will need your passport or proof of identity (drivers’ licences do not count).

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Why now’s the best time to discover Italy’s secret lakes and mountains

Keep in mind that you will not be able to use your normal phone number with the new SIM card in, but will be able to access your internet enabled messaging services, like WhatsApp, Facebook and iMessage. Your phone will need to be ‘unlocked’ (ask your carrier about whether yours is) in order to put a new SIM card in.

Here are some of the plans you can choose from:

WindTre

WindTre, the result of a 2020 merger between the Italian company Wind and the UK network provider Three, currently offers a “Tourist Pass” SIM card for foreign nationals. For €24.99 (it’s sneakily marketed as €14.99, but read the small print and you’ll see you need to fork out an additional €10), you’ll have access to 20GB of data for up to 30 days.

The offer includes 100 minutes of calls within Italy plus an additional 100 minutes to 55 foreign countries listed on the WindTre website. Up to 13.7GB can be used for roaming within the EU. The card is automatically deactivated after 30 days, so there’s no need to worry about surprise charges after you return from your holiday. To get this SIM card, you can go into any WindTre store and request it.

A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.
A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Vodafone

Vodafone has had better deals in the past, but lately appears to have downgraded its plan for tourists, now called “Vodafone Holiday” (formerly “Dolce Vita”), to a paltry 2GB for €30. You get a total of 300 minutes of calls and 300 texts to Italian numbers or to your home country; EU roaming costs €3 per day.

Existing Vodafone customers can access the offer by paying €19 – the charge will be made to your Vodafone SIM within 72 hours of activating the deal. 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

The Vodafone Holiday offer automatically renews every four weeks for €29 – in order to cancel you’ll need to call a toll-free number. The Vodafone website says that the €30 includes the first renewal, suggesting the payment will cover the first four weeks plus an additional four after that, but you’ll want to double check before buying. You’ll need to go to a store in person to get the card.

TIM

TIM is one of Italy’s longest-standing and most well-established network providers, having been founded in 1994 following a merger between several state-owned companies.

The “Tim Tourist” SIM card costs €20 for 15GB of data and 200 minutes of calls within Italy and to 58 foreign countries, and promises “no surprises” when it comes to charges.

You can use the full 15GB when roaming within the EU at no extra charge, and in the EU can use your minutes to call Italian numbers. The deal is non-renewable, so at the end of the 30 days you won’t be charged any additional fees.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

To access the offer, you can either buy it directly from a TIM store in Italy, or pre-order using an online form and pay with your bank card. Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive a PIN which you should be able to present at any TIM store on arrival in Italy (along with your ID) to collect your pre-paid card. The card won’t be activated until you pick it up.

Iliad

Iliad is the newest and one of the most competitive of the four major phone companies operating in Italy, and currently has an offer of 120GBP of €9.99 a month. For this reason, some travel blogs recommend Iliad as the best choice for foreigners – but unfortunately all of their plans appear to require an Italian tax ID, which rules it out as an option for tourists.

Contract

Though buying a pre-paid SIM card is a very useful option for visitors spending a decent amount of time in Italy, as mentioned above, there’s a significant different difference between buying a one-time pre-paid SIM versus a monthly plan that auto-renews.

Make sure you know which one you’re signing up for, and that if you choose a plan that will continue charging you after your vacation has ended, you remember to cancel it.

UK contracts

If you have a UK-registered mobile phone, check your plan carefully before travelling. Before Brexit, Brits benefited from the EU cap on roaming charges, but this no longer applies.

Some phone companies have announced the return of roaming charges, while others have not, or only apply roaming charges only on certain contracts.

In short, check before you set off and don’t assume that because you have never been charged extra before, you won’t be this time.

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