France bans all non-essential travel from the UK over Covid variant fears

France bans all non-essential travel from the UK over Covid variant fears
Travel from the UK is to be strictly limited again. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP
France is to place tough new restrictions on arrivals from the UK over fears of the so-called Indian variant of Covid-19 which now makes up half of new cases in the UK.

“There is a new situation with the progression of the so-called Indian variant in the United Kingdom,” said government spokesman Gabriel Attal, announcing the change.

At present France’s travel rules apply to everyone, even if they are fully vaccinated.

The new rules will be introduced at 0.01am on Monday, May 31st and they are;

  • Travel will only be allowed from the UK for vital reasons or motif imperieux, similar to the restrictions in place between December and March (full details below). Travel to second homes or to visit family and friends is not accepted as a vital reason. You will also need to fill in a form stating your reason, find it HERE
  • People who are resident in France – including British residents – will not need to prove a vital reason to return to France, nor will French citizens or citizens of another EU country
  • Anyone entering France from the UK will need to show a negative PCR or antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours (not the previous 72 hours as was previously the rule)
  • Arrivals should self-isolate for seven days, although this will not be enforced by police visits

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said: “Compelling reasons will be required for non-EU foreign nationals not resident in France joining France from the UK.

“A PCR or antigen test less than 48 hours old will be required from anyone travelling to France from the UK;

“On arrival, travellers will be required to observe a 7-day isolation period. For the time being, given the low incidence of Covid in the UK, police checks on quarantine addresses will not be applied to them.”

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The testing and quarantine rules will apply to all arrivals into France from the UK, including French and EU citizens and people who have their permanent residence in France, although previous travel restrictions have included exemptions for hauliers and other vital workers. 

READER QUESTION: Can I transit through France despite the new travel restrictions?

France already has in place strict rules on travel from India, which bans almost all transport and enforces a strict 10-day quarantine, enforced by visits from the police. This quarantine regime will not be enforced on arrivals from the UK. 

However the French government had become increasingly concerned about arrivals from the UK, which has seen a rapidly rising number of cases, particularly in hotspots in the north of England.

Germany and Austria have already imposed additional measures for people arriving from Britain over variant fears.

The list of accepted reasons for vital travel previously published by France (with documents accepted as proof of travel) are as follows;

Family reasons

  • The death of a parent, grandparent, child or sibling or visit to one of these family members who has received a terminal medical diagnosis (death certificate or doctor’s letter will be needed)
  • Childcare by a parent or guardian with custody or visitation rights (court letter and proof of address)
  • Providing vital assistance to a sick or disabled person (document establishing relationship)
  • Travel for legal or judicial reasons (letter or summons)
  • A legal or economic reason that makes it impossible to remain in the country you are travelling from eg the expiry of a residency card 
  • Travel for reasons of personal safety eg domestic violence or custody dispute (any documentation relating to the situation)
  • Returning to your main residence (proof of residency eg carte de séjour, receipt of application for carte de séjour or proof of address, plus tickets showing your outward journey)
  • Students beginning or ending a period of study (documentation from the place of study)

Health reasons

  • Medical emergency (one person can accompany the sick person if necessary, doctor’s letter or hospital appointment card)

Work-related reasons

  • Vital work requiring an in-person presence where the work cannot be cancelled or postponed without disproportionate consequences (attestation from employer plus professional card if applicable)
  • Health professionals engaged in Covid-related work (professional ID)
  • Diplomatic or state work trips which cannot be cancelled or postponed (professional ID and/or letters from relevant ministers)
  • High-level sports professionals participating in fixtures approved by the sports minister (professional ID and documentation from the sports ministry)

Extra reasons

  • Couples who are married or in a civil partnership where one of the members is living abroad for professional reasons
  • Minor children attending school in France while the family home is established abroad
  • Couples with children, one living in France, the other abroad and separated.
  • Students taking a competitive examination

According to French government figures, around 10,000 people arrive into France from the UK every day, of which around 3,000 are hauliers, often passing through France on the way to other destinations.

Member comments

  1. The information on PCR and antigen is confusing.
    A PCR test is easy to produce at the border as it comes from an official test company showing time and dates.
    How is it done with an Antigen test, do you take the device with you?

  2. I cannot understand what is so hard to comprehend about the restrictions that are going to be in place from the 31st. If you come from the UK into France the restrictions apply. It doesn’t matter if you are driving to Mars the restrictions still apply. What’s so hard to understand? It’s a great pity they are not permanent.

  3. France is simply applying the same (perhaps unnecessary) measures as the UK government. Who knows who’s right. They’re politicians so they probably don’t have a clue.
    To be a politician is a strange thing. No matter what your principles are, you will be obliged to compromise them in order to get a deal with someone you don’t trust. I wouldn’t do it in a million years. That said, shouldn’t we expect our representatives to be more than that?
    I believe that Johnson and, particularly, Hancock have lied about everything. Cummings is an unlikeable character but, in this situation, I think he’s telling the truth. Resignations should follow but, due to the lack of honour in the current crop of ministers, they won’t.

    1. Could you seriously imagine any of the current crop of politians, no matter what side of the ditch they are on, falling on their swords.

  4. Do you know if we cross into France to go to Italy, but overnight in a hotel and we stay there with room service so we don’t eat with other people (even if we are double vaccinated but we have kids), and then we drive into Italy? We’ll have to take the food you can take onboard such as Mike A. was saying in his comments, and it makes it every time more difficult. Would that work? And I need to know if needing to go and set up a house for rent would allow us to cross France into Italy from the UK. thanks for any comments on this. Before we were allowed to cross France w/o stopping (or stopping at an Aire and weeing by the car w/o getting into the bathroom) and that was by the rules…

  5. Let me know if you get any information with regards to transiting through France to other EU countries please.

  6. same for me, those crossing to Calais to drive into Italy, where we have a 2nd home? That we also want to put in place for letting it?

  7. Thank you, that is v helpful to know what one can import and i had not previously heard about the inventory and questions of value of contents of suitcase / holiday clothes and books. What a palaver.

  8. No.
    7 days is current Q length. We’re doing that. We had our negative PCRs before leaving. We have arranged PCRs at the end of Q. Local health org agree this is the right procedure.
    We took no dairy or meat on our journey. Cans of beans and tomatoes, bread, veg for personal consumption, soya milk, limited quantities of fish & alcohol are not restricted as far as I know and port check did not raise issues with any of that.
    We had less than €300 UK non-personal purchases on board, and had invoices, but would have saved a few minutes by having an inventory of vehicle contents & values.
    If we were FR residents or had applied for residency (we have), the inventory would not have been necessary, we were later told. SPS rules would still apply though.

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