Reader question: I’ve had Covid-19 and one jab in France – can I avoid quarantine in UK?

From Sunday, August 8th, fully vaccinated people will be able to travel from France to the UK without having to quarantine - though certain rules and restrictions remain in place.

Reader question: I've had Covid-19 and one jab in France - can I avoid quarantine in UK?
Photo by Denis Charlet / AFP

Reader question: I’ve had Covid-19 in France and since then have had one dose of the vaccine, which counts as fully vaccinated here, so this means I can avoid quarantine in the UK?

Unfortunately there are different definitions of what “fully vaccinated” means on either side of the Channel.

The British government’s strict definition of “fully vaccinated” is that it means having two injections of a double-dose vaccine, such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or AstraZeneca, or one injection of the single-dose Johnson&Johnson – while France and the EU also consider those who have recovered from the virus and who have had a single dose of any vaccine to be fully protected.

The same applies to people who had different vaccines for the two doses – in France this is considered perfectly normal, but the UK government insists that you are not ‘fully vaccinated’ unless both your doses were of the same brand.

Since June, vaccine test centres across France have routinely carried out a pre-vaccination blood test to see if people coming for their first injections are carriers of coronavirus antibodies. The test shows within 15 minutes if that person has had Covid-19, even if they were asymptomatic and did not know they were ill.

In the event of a positive test, the appointment for the second dose is cancelled, with that person considered fully protected after the ‘booster’ vaccine dose.

These people have been able to get a health pass in France and as a result an EU Covid Certificate which essentially shows they are considered to have the same level of immunity as someone who has had two doses.

The pass will say “vaccination 1 of 1” and “vaccine completed” to show that it’s a considered a full course.

And France is not the only country with this policy. Germany and other countries in Europe also consider someone to be fully vaccinated if they have had one jab after recovering from Covid.

READ ALSO How to book that ‘Day Two’ Covid-19 test if you’re travelling from France to the UK

This has led to some confusion over whether those in France who have been ill with coronavirus, recovered and had a booster injection can travel to the UK without having to quarantine.

The UK government says people “need to show an EU Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC), showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA or Swissmedic-approved vaccine”.

And the British Embassy in Paris has confirmed news that is sure not to go down well – the vaccination status of people in that circumstance does not allow for quarantine-free travel to the UK.

READ ALSO Reader question: If I arrive in the UK from France before Sunday 4am, do I still have to quarantine?

In a Q&A on its  Facebook page, the Embassy was pretty clear in its instructions.

“Q: I have only received one dose of a vaccine and am considered fully vaccinated in France after having previously recovered from COVID-19. Am I exempt from quarantine?

“A: Unfortunately, your vaccination status is not currently recognised for quarantine-free entry into the UK and therefore you will need to self-isolate on arrival and take day 2 and day 8 tests. Our Travel Advice always has the most up to date information, so please register for updates to be kept informed of any changes to this policy.”

There’s a similar message on the Facebook page of the British embassy in Spain.

“Please be aware that the UK does not recognise natural immunity for international travel at this time, but this will be kept under review. We know that the EU DCC does enable people to prove natural immunity. This is not currently accepted in the UK and quarantine and day 8 testing requirements will only be eased, for those who have been fully vaccinated in a relevant European country, with an EMA-approved vaccine,” it says.

The Local has asked the UK government whether there is a chance this position will change.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about travel rules between France and the UK

Member comments

  1. Having read this I just booked a second shot last night (because I only had one originally on account of having had covid back in January). I can confirm that it is possible to get a second shot in these circumstances and they will reissue the EU health passport at the vaccination centre.

    1. That’s good to know. However, even if they update your health passport on the spot please be aware that according to the ‘Fully vaccinated’ means you must have had your final dose of the approved vaccine at least 14 whole days before you arrive in England.

      The day you have your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days.

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Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

After two years of limited travel many people are planning a holiday this year and France is a popular destination - but it's easy to lose track of the latest travel rules. Here's what you need to know if you are coming to France from a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone.

Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU


France operates a ‘traffic light’ system that has been in place since summer 2020, assigning countries a colour based on their Covid infection rates.

These days most of the world is green – the lightest level of restriction – including all the countries in the EU and Schengen zone. Find full details on the government website here.

Map: French interior ministry

Vaccinated – if you are fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) and travelling from a green zone country all you need to show at the border is proof of vaccination. There is no requirement for extra paperwork such as passenger locator forms or health declarations and no Covid tests needed. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Unvaccinated – if you are not fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border. The test can be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Fully vaccinated – in order to qualify as ‘fully vaccinated’ you must be vaccinated with an EMA approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca or Janssen) and must be at least 7 days after your final dose (or 28 days after in the case of Janssen). If you had your vaccine more than nine months ago, you will need a booster shot in order to still be classificed as ‘fully vaccinated’ if you are aged 18 and over.

Anyone vaccinated within the EU/Schengen zone will have the EU digital vaccine pass, but vaccination certificates issued outside the EU are also accepted at the French border. 

Children – The rules on vaccination apply to all children aged 12 and over. Under 12s do not need to supply proof of vaccination at the border. Children aged between 12 and 18 do not need a booster shot, even if their vaccine took place more than nine months ago.

The above rules apply to all EU and Schengen zone countries – if you are travelling from the UK click HERE, click HERE for travel from the USA and HERE for travel from other non-EU countries.

In France

So you’ve made it into France, but what are the rules once you are here?

On May 16th, France ended the mask requirement for public transport, representing one of the last Covid restrictions still in place.

Masks – masks are now only compulsory in health establishments, although they remain recommended on public transport. They are not required in other indoor spaces such as shops, bars, restaurants and tourist sites, although private businesses retain the legal right to make mask-wearing a condition of entry.

Health pass – the health pass was suspended in March and is no longer required to enter venues such as bars, restaurants and tourist sites. It is still required to enter establishements with vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. In this case it is a health pass not a vaccine pass – so unvaccinated people can present a recent negative Covid test.

Hygiene gestures – the government still recommends the practice of hygiene gestures such as hand-washing/gel and social distancing although this is a recommendation and not a rule.

Self-isolation – if you test positive for Covid while in France you are legally required to self isolate – full details HERE.

READ ALSO How tourists and visitors to France can get a Covid test