France introduces strict new travel restrictions on arrivals from the UK

From Monday, France has brought in strict new travel rules for the UK including a ban on all non-essential travel and a compulsory seven-day quarantine.

France introduces strict new travel restrictions on arrivals from the UK
Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP

The tightening of travel restrictions is in reaction to fears over the ‘Indian variant’ of Covid which has seen a big growth in cases in the UK in recent days, and follows in the footsteps of Germany and Austria, which have also restricted travel from the UK.

At present the rules apply to all arrivals, including those who are fully vaccinated.

The new rules, which came into force at 0.01am on Monday, May 31st, are;

  • Travel is only allowed from the UK for vital reasons or motif imperieux, similar to the restrictions in place between December and March. 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 – do not need to prove a vital reason to return to France, nor will French citizens or citizens of another EU country who live in France or the EU
  • Anyone over the age of 11 entering France from the UK needs to show a negative PCR or antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours (not 72 hours as was previously the rule)
  • Arrivals should self-isolate for seven days, although this will not be enforced by police visits

You can read a full breakdown of the rules on travel between France and the UK here

Speaking on France Info on Monday morning, France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune said that the quarantine for UK arrivals will not be enforced by the police, in the way that it is for arrivals from India, but that France “will go further if necessary”.

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.”

People who live in France or another EU country can return home, but family visits, visits from second-home owners and holidays are not allowed.

You can find the full list of essential reasons HERE.

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. 

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.

Member comments

  1. This is insane. The UK is averaging 2,000-3,000 cases per day, while France is still averaging 9,000. The UK has vaccinated HALF of its adult population FULLY, and around 75 percent have received the first dose. In France, around 17 percent are fully vaccinated, with 37 percent having received a first dose. Yet France is restricting visitors from the UK? The variants are already in France, anyway. This move seems political, not related to public health.

  2. Would it be possible to do a story on travel within Schengen? I need to be in Venice soon for business, and cannot fathom what documents I need. I am fully vaccinated, but my French or Italian is not good enough to deal with the small print.

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France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body outlined how Covid-19 rules changed starting on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules relaxed in France as the country brought an end to compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes took effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 would return to normal starting February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 now also have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that began at the start of February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.