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What does the UK government’s ‘amber traffic light’ mean for travel to France?

As the UK government prepares to allow travel again, France has been placed on the amber list - here's what it means for people travelling between France and the UK.

What does the UK government's 'amber traffic light' mean for travel to France?
Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

At present the UK rules prohibit travel out of the country for non-essential purposes, meaning holidays to France are not possible, although there is an exemption in the rules for second-home owners – full details here.

However, this will be lifted from May 17th, and at that stage the “traffic light” system will kick in.

This involves giving each country a designation – red, amber or green – based on data including case numbers and vaccination rates in the country.

The list was published on Friday and France, along with almost all European countries has been given an ‘amber’ rating.

The list as published applies only to England. The devolved nations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have not announced when they will lift travel restrictions but have not so far indicated that they intend to impose different rules to England’s.

MAP: Where in France are Covid cases falling?

However not being on the green list doesn’t mean that travel isn’t allowed – it just means that people will have to quarantine and test on arrival in the UK.

People can travel from amber list countries to the UK for any reason – there is no need to prove that your trip is essential and entry is not limited to UK nationals or residents.

However, there are rules on testing and quarantine in place.

Arrivals must;

  • Have a negative Covid test to show at the border
  • Complete the passenger locator form – find that HERE
  • Quarantine for 10 days – this can be done in a location of their choice including the home of a friend or family member and there is no need to pay for a ‘quarantine hotel’.
  • Arrivals also have to pay for travel-testing kits which cost around £200 per person.
  • Essentially this the regime currently in place for most arrivals.

If France in the future makes it onto the green list, then no quarantine is necessary, but a negative Covid test is required to enter the country, plus another test on or before day 2 of their stay. 

The French rules

The above is what you need to know to enter the UK, but what about travelling the other way?

Travel into France from the UK is currently allowed for all purposes, including tourism, family visits and second-home owners. France plans to open up tourism from all non-EU countries from June 9th, but there was already an exemption in place for seven non-EU countries, including the UK.

READ ALSO Who can travel to France as the country lifts its lockdown?

Until May 3rd, France’s lockdown rules banned all non-essential travel of more than 10km, which in effect ruled out most trips, but that has now been lifted and travel within France for all purposes is again allowed with no need for permission forms.

There is still a curfew, however, and plenty of other closures and restrictions in place until at least June – find the full calendar for lifting lockdown HERE.

All arrivals into France need to present a negative Covid test, taken within the previous 72 hours. This test must be a PCR test. You also need to fill in a declaration stating that you do not have Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with anyone who has. You can find the form HERE.

Once in France, travellers from the UK are asked to quarantine for seven days and then take a second test. The quarantine can be done at a location of your choice and it is not enforced by police, unlike the strict quarantine in place for arrivals from ‘high risk’ countries including India and South Africa.

The UK currently advises against its nationals visiting France for leisure or tourism purposes – this doesn’t mean that you can’t go, but this official advice can invalidate your travel insurance, so check your policy before travel.

What about vaccine passports?

Neither France not the UK as yet have vaccine passport systems up and running, although France is expected to have a ‘health pass’ in operation by June 9th, which will allow people to upload either a vaccination certificate or a recent negative Covid test.

READ ALSO How will France’s ‘health pass’ work?

That means that, for the moment, even fully vaccinated people will have to abide by the testing and quarantine rules.

Member comments

  1. Can I stay one night in France (driving en route to Italy, permitted business) without having to quarantine.

    Lots of advice of rules for staying in France, but none for transiting.

    Thank you for advice!

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VIDEO: See inside France’s ‘next generation’ TGV trains

France's national rail operator SNCF has released film footage of its new style TGV trains - complete with extra bar space and a games room - which are set to go into service in 2024

VIDEO: See inside France's 'next generation' TGV trains

Hailed the ‘TGV of the future’, French national rail line executives are calling the TGV M – the new train carriage to be debuted in 2024 – a “revolutionary flagship.”

In the video below, Info France 2 took a look at the futuristic new railway vehicle, which is set to be equipped with 20 percent more capacity, nine carriages instead of eight, and 32 percent less CO2 emissions.

The TGV M – which stands for TGV Mobilité – will sport a more aerodynamic appearance, also intended to help in ‘energy sobriety.’

Inside the train there will be more space, more seats, a bar on both floors and a ‘games room’ with a widescreen TV, which in the promo video appears to be showing a football game.

The TGV M will be launched toward the end of 2024 on the historic Paris-Lyon line (LGV Sud-Est).

SNCF’s CEO told BFMTV that he hopes to run the train outside of France as well. “It will start running to Italy on the Paris-Milan line, a line that has been incredibly successful, in 2026,” he said.

The French railway saw its busiest ever summer as many people took the decision to take the train, rather than the plane, on their holidays in order to help the planet.