Can I travel to France?

·7-min read
 ( Unsplash)
( Unsplash)

France is an extremely popular holiday destination, with around 17 million British nationals visiting every year. But, due to Covid-19, there are currently a number of extra entry requirements in place for British citizens.

If you’re planning a trip to France this Autumn, here’s a look at the country’s current entry requirements, what you’ll need to do before travelling back home (from 4 October onwards) and what to think about in terms of travel insurance.

What are the entry requirements for travel to France?

Countries have adopted various traffic light systems to cope with pandemic-related travel issues.

The UK is currently on France’s amber list for travel and there are different entry rules depending on your vaccination status.

If you are not vaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated, you can only travel to France for essential reasons, and will have to:

  • take a PCR or antigen test within 24 hours of departure. This should not be an NHS test. Self-administered tests are not accepted

  • self-isolate for seven days after arrival

  • take another PCR test following this period of self-isolation.

On arrival, you will need to present:

  • a completed Certificate of International Travel to confirm your essential reason for travel

  • a completed ‘déclaration sur l’honneur’ form (sworn statement) self-certifying that you do not have symptoms of coronavirus, you’ve not been in contact with any confirmed cases for the last fortnight, and that you’ll self-isolate for seven days after arrival

  • evidence of your negative PCR or antigen test taken within 24 hours of departure.

Children aged 12 years old or older who are not fully vaccinated and travelling with a fully-vaccinated adult will have to present a negative PCR, or antigen, test result but will not have to provide an essential reason for travel or self-isolate on arrival.

Other rules for children say those that are aged:

  • 11 years old or under do not need to take a test

  • 12 years old or older, who are unvaccinated and travelling alone, are subject to the same conditions as adults who are not fully vaccinated.

If you’re fully vaccinated, you do not need an essential reason to travel to France, will not need to self-isolate on arrival and do not need to present evidence of a negative test result before travel.

On arrival, you’ll need to present:

  • a completed ‘déclaration sur l’honneur’ form (sworn statement) self-certifying that you do not have any symptoms of coronavirus and have not been in contact with a confirmed case in the last fortnight

  • proof of your vaccination status.

Other entry requirements

Check your passport’s validity before travelling to France. It must be valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave France and be less than 10 years old. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count toward the minimum three months.

At French border control, be prepared to show proof of:

  • where you intend to stay

  • travel insurance for your trip

  • a return or onward ticket

  • the fact you have enough money for the duration of your stay.

Once in France

In France, you are still required to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces, including on public transport and taxis without a plexiglass screen.

You are no longer required to wear a mask in all outdoor public spaces, with exceptions including queues, markets and stations where social distancing is not possible.

You will be required to show your Covid-19 status through the ‘pass sanitaire’ to access events, cultural spaces with more than 50 people and leisure venues including bars and restaurants. Find out more about restrictions and requirements here.

Returning to the UK

The following applies to travellers returning to London and other English locations. If you are returning to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland click on each country to check with the relevant authority about any differences in requirements.

As part of France’s amber list requirements, if you are not fully vaccinated, you’ll need to complete a Certificate to leave Metropolitan France specifying your exemptions for travel. You will not have to do this if you are fully vaccinated.

From Monday 4 October 2021, the UK government is introducing new, simplified rules for international travel replacing the current traffic light system with a single red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world. France falls into the latter category.

From the same date, the UK government has also announced that fully vaccinated travellers returning to England from non-red list countries will not require pre-departure tests before arrival into England.

Prior to departure from France

Travellers who have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days must:

  • book and pay for a day two Covid-19 PCR test, to be taken after arrival in England

  • complete a passenger locator form, any time in the 48 hours before arrival in England

  • take a Covid-19 test on or before day two of arriving in England

There will be no need to take either a pre-departure test, or a Covid-19 test on day eight. There’s also no need to quarantine for 10 days after arrival in England.

From the end of October and to coincide with the return from half-term breaks, the government has said that eligible fully vaccinated travellers will be able to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper, lateral flow test.

In-bound travellers must be able to prove that they have been fully vaccinated, either with an online or printed document produced by a national or state-level public health body.

Without the relevant paperwork, in-bound travellers will have to follow the rules as applied to non-vaccinated individuals (see below).

Travellers who are not fully vaccinated must:

  • take a pre-departure Covid-19 test – to be taken in the three days before travelling to England

  • book and pay for day two and day eight Covid-19 tests – to be taken after arrival in England

  • complete a passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before your arrival in England

After arriving in England, you must:

  • quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days

  • take a Covid-19 test on or before day two, and on or after day eight

You may be able to shorten your isolation period and leave quarantine early by paying for a private Covid-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.

Travelling with children

There are different age limits for children that need to take various Covid-19 tests:

  • test to enter another country – check foreign travel advice for the country concerned

  • test before travel back to England – children aged 10 and under do not need to take a test

  • day two and day eight tests after arrival in England – children aged four and under do not need to take a test

  • Test to Release test – children of all ages must take the test if adults in their household are taking part in the scheme

Do I need travel insurance for a trip to France?

Travel insurance should be an essential element of any trip that you take. From above you can see that, for travel to France, you’ll have to show evidence on arrival that you have insurance covering all medical, hospital and funeral expenses that may occur during your stay, including repatriation costs for medical reasons.

A comprehensive travel insurance policy will also give you peace of mind that you are financially protected against a number of things that could go wrong while you’re away including cancellation in the run-up to a trip and lost or damaged possessions.

A free Global Health Insurance Card is another essential for a trip to France. This card, which replaced the earlier EHIC version, gives you access to medically necessary state-provided healthcare.

In other words, healthcare that can’t wait until you come back to the UK and provided by the country in question on a like-for-like basis as it would be for local inhabitants.

Travel insurance and Covid-19

Many travel insurance policies now cover medical costs and repatriation as a result of Covid-19. However, you should compare policies carefully to ensure the elements that are important to you, such as cancellation due to Covid-19, are covered.

You should also compare other important elements of different policies such as excess amounts, financial limits and any exclusions to ensure you find the best policy for you at a competitive price.

Use the box below to compare travel insurance quotes.

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