LATEST: France to ban non-essential travel to and from UK and impose quarantine on arrivals

Truck arrives a Channel Tunnel
LATEST: France imposes stricter test rule and quarantine for all travellers from UK(Photo by DENIS CHARLET / POOL / AFP)
France said Thursday that it would ban non-essential travel to and from Britain in a bid to curb the lightning spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. It also imposed tighter restrictions on those arriving in France from UK.

France will impose new rules on travel to and from the UK from Midnight on Friday night (00:00 Saturday) that means travellers will need “an essential reason to travel to, or come from, the UK, both for the unvaccinated and vaccinated.”

The French government has called on residents in France to postpone their travel plans to the UK. 

“We are going to put in place even more drastic testing measures on the border with the UK,” said French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal. 

“Our strategy is to delay as much as we can the development of Omicron in our country and take advantage to push ahead with the booster drive,” he said.

READ ALSO: Who is allowed to travel between France and UK under rules of ‘essential travel’?

The new restrictions apply to both vaccinated and non-vaccinated passengers. 

As well as the ban on non-essential travel (here is a list of what is allowed under essential travel) France also said new testing and quarantine rules would be imposed from Saturday.

Antigen or PCR tests taken within 24 hours before departure will be required for all travellers coming from the UK instead of within 48 hours of boarding.

READ ALSO ‘I don’t understand’: Travellers react with anger and confusion to France’s new entry rules for UK

Everyone entering France from the UK will have to undergo a mandatory self-isolation period of ten days following arrival. The initial rule was a seven day quarantine, but this appears to have been updated.

Source: France Diplomatie

However new arrivals can choose to take a test after arriving in France and if the result is negative they can end self-isolation after 48 hours.

All travellers from the UK will have to enter their details on an online platform before their departure to France. They must mention where they will be staying. Law enforcement authorities will check at the address you have listed to ensure you are not breaking quarantine. 

People without French citizenship or residency, tourists and most second home owners are essentially barred from entering France under the new rules. 

Residents of France and French and EU nationals are free to travel under the rules of essential travel. 

From midnight Saturday (2300 GMT Friday) there will be a “requirement to have an essential reason to travel to, or come from, the UK, both for the unvaccinated and vaccinated… People cannot travel for touristic or professional reasons,” the government said in a statement.

“Faced with the extremely rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the UK, the government has chosen to reinstate the need for an essential reason for travel from and to the UK,” the statement said.

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See also on The Local:

French citizens who want to travel to the UK must also meet the criteria for essential travel, which you can read more about HERE

All travellers from France to the UK are also required to fill in this form before departure. The form suggests that French partners and children of British citizens will be able to travel to the UK.

However, the French government is asking people to postpone their trips and it has said clearly that trips for “tourism and professional” reasons are not allowed. And the French consulate in London have not confirmed to us whether or not French partners of British citizens will be granted entry for a Christmas holiday in the UK. 

The underlying message is that it is going to become far more complicated to enter France from the UK and the move will likely throw Christmas holiday plans into doubt.

Earlier this week the French government had warned that new restrictions were likely.

Both France and the UK are grappling with rising Covid infections.

Whilst the 5th wave appears to be peaking in France, scientists believe a 6th wave, fuelled by the highly contagious Omicron variant, will follow shortly.

There are now at least 170 Omicron cases in France although the real number is likely far higher because not all positive cases are tested for the variant.

In the UK meanwhile, the number of Omicron cases is doubling every two to three days and forced the government to introduce stricter measures such as health passes.

Currently, in order to enter France from the UK, all travellers regardless of their vaccination status must provide a negative Covid test (PCR or antigen) taken within 48 hours of the departure time. This rule applies to all travellers over the age of 12, including French citizens and residents.

Most PCR tests for travel cost roughly double the price of antigen tests but some can be well over 100 euros.

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Member comments

  1. Can US citizens with permanent residence ( living and working in Paris ) travel back to US to visit without a problem returning to France ?

  2. Does anyone please know how or where it is planned that you can get a test to release on return to France at 48hours to reduce the 10 days quarantine? My pharmacie does travel tests but presumably it would need to be recorded in some way if you were driving to get a test whilst quarantined.

  3. On the latest form issued by the French government for travellers wanting to go to Britain after tomorrow (18th), the following wording of the first of the ‘motifs imperieux’ seems to suggest that you CAN leave France for Britain if you live in France but your country of origin in Britain – and that your partner can accompany you even if they do not hold a British passport. Can anyone confirm if this is the case (according to the wording in French)?

    Attestation de sortie du territoire metropolitain vers le royaume uni:

    Je certifie que mon motif de déplacement correspond à l’un des motifs impérieux suivants.
    Ressortissant français ou étranger rejoignant son pays de résidence ou d’origine (sans garantie de retour sur le territoire français, sauf motif impérieux), ainsi que son conjoint (marié, pacsé et concubin) et ses enfants.

    NB : no ‘pièces exigibles’ are listed for this category of motif, which presumably means that if in fact you are asked to prove your eligibility for this category, you can show your passport if you have a British one, and if you are the non-British conjoint you just have show that you are the British passport holder’s partner.

  4. I am a student studying in Paris and I am returning home to the UK on Saturday evening. Does my antigen test have to be taken now within 24 hrs of flight departure or is it still 48hrs?

  5. In support of Sharon Willingham, this is a key point for those of us elderly Brit residents (with our titres de sejour) in the south west. Travelling by car from Calais, may we have or not have a night’s stopover in an hebergement as part of our isolation, as well as a normal part of the long journey to home in Occitanie or elsewhere equivalent?

  6. So – I’m confused about the rules. As a British passport holder, with the right to remain in France, can I effectively circumvent these rules – relying on the first exemption when traveling to the UK and my residency / employment in France when returning? Or does the “returning to their country” in the first exemption effectively exclude those now permanently resident in France?

    1. As we interpret it you will be fine to travel given your UK nationality. But all my depend on the border guards. we’ll soon find out and keep you posted.

  7. Anyone know how to get your US administered booster added to your pass sanitare/tous anticovide app? If you’re over 65 your pass expires without proof of booster….

  8. Please keep all comments polite. Despite difference of opinion we don’ want the comments section to descend into insults and abuse and personal arguments. Thanks. Ben

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