What Brexit has changed for British visitors to France

What Brexit has changed for British visitors to France
France will start welcoming back British tourists this week, but some things have changed. Photo: Loic Venance/AFP
The Brexit transition period ended on January 1st 2021, but Covid-related travel restrictions mean that the summer will mark the first post-Brexit trip to France for many Brits - so here's what you need to know about what has changed.

Health rules

Hopefully this is a temporary change, but be aware of requirements for testing and quarantine, plus the health restrictions still in place in France – full details HERE.

Passports

Your British passport of course remains a valid travel document, even if it no longer makes you a citizen of the EU. However, two things have changed here.

First your passport needs to have at least six months of validity left for travel into the EU.

Second your passport is likely to be stamped as you enter France, so that authorities can see clearly your date of entry.

The passports of Brits who are permanent residents in France should not be stamped but they will need to show proof of residency such as a carte de séjour, a receipt acknowledging the application for a carte de séjour or proof of residency such as utility bills – here’s what to do if your passport is stamped in error.

Visas

If you are entering France for a short holiday, visit to family or friends or trip to a second home you do not need a visa. However if you are moving to France to live or intending to stay longer than 90 days you will need either a visa or a residency permit – find out more HERE.

If you are coming to France to work you may need both a visa and a work permit depending on the type and duration of your work – full details HERE.

France is thankfully not yet actually locking up Brits who don’t have the correct paperwork, unlike the EU nationals detained in UK detention centres, but there are still checks and you can be turned back at the border if you try to enter France for a longer stay without the correct paperwork.

Extra paperwork

When entering France as a non-EU national you may be asked to provide any of the following at the border. In practice the level of enforcement on this varies, but French border guards are within their rights to ask you for;

  • Proof of accommodation during your stay (booking for hotel, gîte, Airbnb or B&B for tourists, second-home owners may need to provide proof of address such as a utility bill and if you’re staying with friends or family you may need an Attestation d’accueil, see below)
  • A return ticket or the means to acquire one
  • Sufficient financial means to cover basic costs during your stay. The guideline figures for this are; €65 per day if you have a hotel booking, €120 per day if you have no hotel booking, €32.50 per day if you are staying with friends or family
  • Insurance that covers health costs and the cost of repatriation if required (see health cover section below)
  • If you are transiting through France you may be asked for proof of your right to enter your final destination

READ ALSO Health insurance – what are the post-Brexit rules for Brits visiting France

Registering British guests with the Town Hall?

You may have seen reports that anyone who is hosting a British guest in their home has to register in advance with their local Mairie. Here is how this works, and the alternative if registration is not possible. 

90-days

With the ending of freedom of movement comes the 90-day rule, which states that out of every 180 days, Brits can only spend 90 of them within the EU without a visa or residency permit.

You can find a full explanation of the 90-day rule HERE, together with the Schengen calculator that allows you to work out our allowance.

It’s worth pointing out that the 90-day limit applies to the whole EU and Schengen zone, not just France. 

Health cover

In case you need healthcare while in France you will need either an EHIC or a GHIC health insurance card.

Be aware, however, that those only cover emergency care and do not include the cost of things like repatriation. If you are travelling without a visa or residency card you may need to show proof that you have cover for repatriation costs, but this can be through either health insurance or travel insurance, there is no requirement for a separate health insurance policy to enter France.

Driving

While driving licences have been a thorny issue for British residents in France there is better news for visitors – you can continue to drive on your UK or NI licence in France and there is no need for an International Drivers’ Permit.

The European Commission has also announced that it will waive the requirement for British drivers to have a ‘green card’ from their insurance company.

Ham sandwiches and other British delicacies

There are now strict rules on what products you can bring into the EU from the UK, which rule out almost all animal products (meat, fish, dairy etc) as well as flowers and plants.

Find the full list of banned items HERE.

Furniture, DIY and other high-value items

As well as the products that are banned outright, there is also a limit on the total value of goods you can bring in – any loads of more than €430 in value can be liable to import duties.

There is an exemption for people moving to France with all their worldly goods, but not for second-home owners who want to bring over furniture or DIY items for a renovation project. Full details on the rules HERE.

Pets

And it’s not just people who have stricter travel rules, the European Pet Passport is no longer valid for UK-dwelling pets to travel into France. Instead you will need to see your vet ahead of your trip to get an Animal Health Certificate – full details HERE. Unlike the Pet Passport, a new AHC is required for every trip.


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