France reopens UK border for essential travel only

France reopened its UK border on Wednesday - but only for a limited number of travellers.

France reopens UK border for essential travel only
Photo: AFP

The France-UK border has been completely closed since Sunday night after the UK government announced a new strain of the Covid-19 virus, which it said was highly contagious.

After discussions with European partners, France has now announced that the border will reopen on Wednesday but only for limited groups.


These are

  • French citizens or citizens of another EU country
  • Non-French citizens who are permanent residents of France or another EU country
  • People spending less than 24 hours in France in transit to another country
  • Members of an official mission or diplomatic staff and their families
  • Health professionals engaged in Covid-related care
  • People engaged in the international transport of merchandise (such as lorry drivers)
  • Transport workers or fishing crew
  • International students
  • Professor or researcher in a French educational establishment
  • Non-EU citizens travelling on a 'talent visa'
  • Anyone who has a pass issued by the Interior Ministry 

All travel will be conditional on a negative Covid test taken no more than 72 hours prior to travel.

In most cases the PCR nasal swab test should be used, but in certain circumstances the quick-result antigen test can be accepted – but only one of the ones listed in the below document from the French health ministry.


This covers both people travelling to France and passing through on their way to another country.

These conditions, which will remain in place until January 6th, rule out tourism, family visits and visits from second-home owners.

The Local has asked what proof of residency status will be accepted at the border.

The statement from the French Prime Minister Jean Castex said: “Due to the very rapid development in the United Kingdom of the VUI-2020-12-01 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, France – the leading land, sea and air border for trade between the United Kingdom and the European Area – totally suspended the flow of people and road transport from the country for 48 hours on Sunday, December 20th at midnight.

“Other suspension decisions were taken simultaneously in a majority of EU countries and beyond.

“This period allowed for consultation between the European Commission and Member States based on the health risk analysis published on December 20th by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), as well as constructive bilateral exchanges between the French and UK governments.

“Against this background, from midnight on December 22nd, only certain categories of people will be allowed to travel to or transit through France from the UK.”

Transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djabbari thanked his British counterpart Grant Shapps for his work.


The decision to ban freight traffic has lead to huge queues of lorries in southern England.

The British and French governments said a full health protocol for lorry drivers would be released later this evening, but Shapps added that lorry drivers should not travel to Kent this evening.


Although transport can restart from midnight tonight, services in both directions have been extremely disrupted over the last 48 hours, so anyone with a journey planned is advised to check with their transport operator.

From January 1st, British travellers into France will face travel restrictions linked to the EU's Covid-19 rules for non-EU countries.

Member comments

  1. Judging by the list it seems virtually everyone. Should only be for freight and EU citizens or residents. How the hell did students make it on the list.

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France extends Covid tests for travellers from China

France on Saturday said it had extended until February 15th Covid tests for travellers arriving from China due to the "evolving situation".

France extends Covid tests for travellers from China

The tests had initially been decreed until January 31.

Since the start of this year, travellers aged over 11 and coming from China to France have had to present a negative test taken 48 hours before the flight to board the plane.

Random testing will be carried out and anyone testing positive will have to self-isolate, the French authorities said, adding that everyone above six years old would have to wear face masks on the plane.

Several countries had slapped fresh travel regulations on travellers from China after Beijing decided to relax strict virus restrictions.

China has said that the number of daily Covid-19 deaths has fallen by nearly 80 percent since the start of the month.

A wave of virus cases has washed over the world’s most populous nation since Beijing abruptly ended its zero-Covid policy last month.

Beijing’s figures are believed to only represent a fraction of the true toll, given China’s narrow definition of a Covid death and official estimates that swathes of the population have been infected.