For members


Do Brits living in France still have to quarantine on trips to UK?

The British government on Thursday announced a relaxation of its quarantine rules for fully vaccinated travellers - but not for Brits who live abroad.

Do Brits living in France still have to quarantine on trips to UK?
Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Thursday that, from July 19th, Brits visiting amber list countries such as France would no longer have to quarantine on arrival back in the UK, as long as they were fully vaccinated.

However this exemption is not extended to the majority of UK nationals who live in France – who will still have to quarantine when visiting friends or family in the UK, even if they are fully vaccinated.

Shapps said the exemption was for “residents returning to England” but speaking on Sky News on Friday morning, he said he hoped to be able to have news to announced on whether the UK can recognise people vaccinated in other countries “within the next couple of weeks”.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “From July 19th, arrivals who have been fully vaccinated with an NHS administered vaccine in the UK (plus 14 days), or are on a formally approved UK vaccine clinical trial, returning to England from amber list counties will no longer need to quarantine.

“Passengers will need to provide proof of their vaccination status to carriers in advance of travel.” 

This means that any UK nationals living in France who had their jabs in the UK can travel quarantine free – but the majority who had their vaccines in France will still face a 10-day quarantine if they want to travel to the UK to visit friends and family, as well as paying around £160 for the compulsory day 2 and 8 travel testing package.

The announcement sparked fury among UK nationals living abroad, many of whom have not seen family for 18 months as they cannot afford expensive travel testing packages as well as taking an extra 10 days off work to quarantine.

The citizens’ rights group British in Europe has written to Shapps to ask for the reasoning behind the “epidemiologically illiterate” exclusion of people vaccinated outside the UK.

Under 18s do not need to quarantine.

Arrivals in the UK who were fully vaccinated by the NHS will still need a negative Covid test before departure, and will have to pay for a second test on day 2 after their arrival in the UK. 

The UK government will also from July 19th withdraw its official advice against travel to France – which means getting travel insurance should be possible again.

From France to UK

People travelling from the UK to France can only travel for essential reasons if they are not fully vaccinated.

People who are fully vaccinated can travel for any reason, but need to show a negative Covid test at the border. However, this does not include people who received AstraZeneca’s Indian-produced Covishield vaccine.

READ ALSO How does France’s traffic light system for travel work?

EU vaccine passport

People vaccinated in France can travel anywhere within the EU or Schegen zone using the EU digital vaccine passport. The UK is not part of the scheme, but talks are ongoing to allow non-EU countries such as the UK and USA join for mutual recognition of vaccine passports.

An EU source told The Local: “When it comes to the UK, the talks are ongoing at the technical level and are progressing well and going in the right direction.

“This is in particular because technically speaking the EU’s and the UK’s architectures are aligned.  

“On the US, the EU continues exchanges with the US on the use of (vaccination) certificates to facilitate travel. We are also following closely how the debate on the certificates evolves in the US.”

Although the French system cannot read QR codes from the NHS app, travellers vaccinated in the UK can present paper or digital vaccination certificates at the border to prove their vaccinated status.

Member comments

  1. Stupid and inexplicable decision. A UK citizen vaccinated in the UK can go on holiday to a Covid infested place in Europe then go back to the UK and skip the quarantine. A UK citizen resident and vaccinated in France, living in a place with almost no COVID has to pay the tests and spend one week locked up. Where’s the logic?

  2. Ridiculous rules. Most of our vaccines come from Europe. Having not seen my husband for 6 months and with a major op coming up this ruling is adding more stress on such a tricky time. Hopefully the government will get their act together fast

  3. This makes me so cross ! I have spent an absolute fortune on those test kits and it seems like there is no end in sight even though I am fully vaccinated! Ridiculous 😡

  4. This makes me so cross ! I have spent an absolute fortune on those test kits and it seems like there is no end in sight even though I am fully vaccinated! Ridiculous !

  5. So if it’s a ten day quarantine in the UK I’m assuming you can’t return to the ferry port to return to France until day 11?

    1. Guy Denning (sometimes the “reply to” doesn’t work)
      Yes, you can. It’s on the gov website. Along the same lines, if you have a UK test in order to go to France for example, if you are only there a couple of days you can use that same test, ie within 72 hours, as a pre-travel test to return to the UK.
      Actually the “within 72 hours” (PCR test) is misleading because the site clearly shows it as up to 3 days before your travel day & gives example: if your travel day is Friday you can take your test Tues , Wed, Thurs.

  6. I have not seen my 90 year old mother in England for 18 months and cannot understand why I have to quarantine for 10 days when double jabbed. My question is : if I am in quarantine after a negative test on the day of travel From France why do I have to pay for 2 private tests? This is pure prejudice and politics
    and I can scarcely withhold my rage and fury at the ******* Tories. Shame on you.

  7. I live in a small quiet French hamlet, am double jabbed with the European vaccine, I am very careful when I go shopping, when (rarely) visiting friends observe all the Covid 19 regulations and precautions, have to self isolate for 10 days if I fly back to the UK.
    A lout football supporter can fly to Europe, go to a crowded beach, visit a crowded pub or club, then fly back to the UK and not have to self isolate…………Ludicrous !

  8. How do they verify the vaccinations? The USA is planning to be part of the EU vaccine passport sceme, but perhaps it would be viewed as insufficiently brexity for the UK to join it? Secondly, it would be discriminatory to allow Brits into the UK from France but not the French.
    I don’t see what France (as well as the UK) is doing, in refusing to allow people with the Indian Astra-Zeneca jab to come to France, as any different. It’s all about keeping out Johnie Foreigner, especially if he has a brown skin!
    P.S. Have just been to the UK, done the quarantine and spent the fortune on all the tests — it’s not 10 days of quarantine, it’s 11! The first day is called Day 0!!!

    1. I’ve just done 12 as the testing company took 3 days to process my Day 8 test, which was negative, of course (we’re double jabbed).
      It makes me mad how we’re treated by the UK. The same tests, taken privately in France, cost just Euro 10 each, can be administered by our local nurse, and be uploaded and recognised so smoothly on the French government App. And test results are processed much quicker. All this is just money for Boris’ Boys. I’ve travelled to UK for my daughter’s wedding. I’ve changed the ticket to return back to France asap afterwards, rather than linger in Covid central.

      1. Sorry about your testing company, mine was prompt. I think they’re not the same tests, if sent to a lab, as pre-travel administered by the French nurse. (At the stage I travelled the pre-departure one could be either).I think day 2 & 8 have to be PCR tests, whereas I had a pret-travel antigen test done by the local nurse which is speedily read like a pregnancy test. Then days 2 & 8 were PCR. It certainly is profiteering though, like so much of what’s gone on with PPE.

  9. I suppose I should be surprised about this nonsense decision. Brits who have had their two jabs in England can return to England without having to quarantine. This Brit who lives in France and has had the SAME two jabs – but in France, cannot! A 6 year-old can understand the absurdity! However the Front Bench is incapable of comprehending. Congratulations to all those who voted for this absurd lot to govern the U.K.!

  10. I fully agree with the comments calling out the absolute absurdity of this situation. It makes no common or medical sense whatsoever. I just travelled to France from the UK and had no problems entering France even though I had one jab in the UK and another in the USA where I am also resident. At least the French Government are using common sense in their approach and I applaud them. The UK Government needs to be called to account and I intend to write my MP about this.

    1. I wish you luck Gary but they don’t answer to anyone except their own self interests, or the back benchers they want to placate. They won’t answer direct questions at PMQs, they won’t allow the tougher journalists to ask a Q at the briefings. BJ won’t go on the Today programme (yet huge numbers of people criticise the BBC for not being critical enough). They are masters of deceit and deception. They push training for jobs ahead of critical thinking in education. They got elected on slogans & prejudice & they are still popular. They make the sort of ridiculous decisions that a bunch of headless chickens would make but smooth talk their way out of it every time. I really hope you have a decent MP.

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For members


Reader question: Are there private beaches in France?

Amid accusations of racism at fancy seaside resorts and legal controversies surrounding US statesmen, we take a look at the law surrounding private beaches in France.

Reader question: Are there private beaches in France?

Question: I read that all beaches in France are public property, but down here on the Riviera there are a lot of ‘private beaches’ – how do the rules actually work?

In France, everyone has the right to a dip in the ocean, though it might not seem that way when walking through certain areas.

There are 1,500 of these “private beaches” in France – the vast majority of them located on the Côte d’Azur.

They have become a source of controversy recently, after two private beaches in Juan-les-Pins were accused of racism and discrimination following an investigation and video circulated by French media Loopsider. The video (below) shows how a white couples receive different treatment than North African or Black couples.

So what are these ‘private beaches’ and are they even legal in France?

In reality, none of these beachfront hotels, resorts or beach operators actually own that land, as the sea and the beach are considered ‘public maritime’ and are therefore the domain of the French state.

This means that technically there are no private beaches in France, as no one is supposed to be allowed to own the beach, though there are some caveats to that rule.

Since 1986, the State has been able to grant ‘concessions’ to allow for parts of the beach to be temporarily rented. Thus, hotels, resorts or beach operators can request a temporary rental of the beach for a specific period of time – the maximum duration being twelve years, which is renewable. If the local town hall agrees, then the renter will pay a fee (typically between €15,000 and €100,000 per year). 

This might seem like a de facto way of allowing beaches to be privatised, but the few who manage to ‘rent the beach’ are still subject to some constraints. For instance, they are only allowed to occupy the beach for six months of the year (sometimes this can be extended up to eight months with the permission of the town hall, or twelve months in less common circumstances).

At the end of the season, they are required to dismantle their installations, so permanent private structures on the beach are therefore not allowed.

So you might see a waterfront resort, but they do not technically have ownership over the beach.

What about private deckchairs or sun beds next to the water? 

This is another rule that is not always perfectly respected. Legally, any organisation that rents a part of the beach is required to leave a strip of “significant width” along the sea.

This is usually about three to five metres from the high tide mark, where members or the public can walk along the water or bring down their own towels or deck chairs down to the beach.

If a ‘private beach’ has deck chairs or sun-loungers right up against the water, there is a good chance the renting organisation is not following the rules.

Beachfront property

As the public has the right to be able to access the beach, homeowners are not allowed to block passage and can even incur fines for doing so. 

The public must be able to pass through land to get to the beach, and cannot be blocked from the beach in front of a property.

Public access to the beach came into the spotlight due to a controversy surrounding a property of former American presidential candidate and statesman, John Kerry.

Kerry’s family owns a villa in Saint-Briac-sur-Mer in Brittany, and has fought a three-decade legal battle to be able to block the coastal trail on the property, which by French law, should be accessible to the public. 

Despite the family siting potential ‘security threats’ should the beach front path be open to the public, local authorities backed plans to continue allowing public access in 2019.

What about building a waterfront property?

First, keep in mind that building in general in France is a heavily regulated process that requires planning permission.

You will not be able to build within 100 metres of the shoreline. If you buy a pre-existing coastal property, you will need to remember the three-metre rule discussed above and, as the Kerry family discovered, you are not allowed to block public access to the beach. 

For ‘coastal zones’ specifically, there are more strict regulations and most plots of land by the sea are listed as protected natural areas, and therefore are not allowed to be built on.

Can access to the beach ever be forbidden?

Yes, as per the Coastal Law of 1986, local authorities can forbid access to the beach for “security, national defence or environmental protection.” During the Covid lockdowns several local authorities banned access to beaches to avoid illicit partying.

There are also several rules about what you are allowed to do – and not to do – while visiting French beaches, and some of them might surprise you. 

READ MORE: The little-known French beach rule that could net you a €1,500 fine