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Reader question: Can a UK Day 2 Covid test be used to return to France?

Many of you have written to ask us whether the mandatory Day 2 Covid test for people visiting the UK from France can also be used for the mandatory pre-departure test to return to France. Here's what we know.

You should not use the results of the Day 2 test taken in the UK to travel back to France.
You should not use the results of the Day 2 test taken in the UK to travel back to France. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

We are planning to arrive in UK on a Thursday, and come back to France on the Sunday.  If we do the Day 2 test, as usual, can that double for the test one needs 48 hours before travelling back? 

People travelling from France to the UK must book a Covid test (PCR) from a certified test provider on or before Day 2 of their arrival. The UK has also re-introduced the need for pre-departure tests for all travellers whether vaccinated or not.

Meanwhile, all travellers over the age of 12 going from the UK to France must present a negative antigen or PCR test, whether vaccinated or not, to enter the country. This rule also apples to foreign residents of France and French citizens. All travellers to France face a seven day quarantine upon arrival – although this can be cut short if they test negative after 48 hours. 

The tests can be a PCR test and can be self-administered – as long as the results have been confirmed by a lab.

So for a short trip, it would certainly be convenient if the UK “Day 2 test” could double up as the pre-departure test needed to return to France. 

READ MORE Should I cancel my trip between France and the UK this Christmas?

Unfortunately, it probably won’t work that way. 

Generally Day 2 test providers send their results by email. These results are normally a couple of lines of text rather than a formal certificate that travel companies and border police like to verify. The French Consulate in London have said that if you are counting on using a Day 2 test to return to France, you should check with the test provider that they provide a result certificate which is valid for travel. 

Unfortunately, the complications don’t stop there. The PCR or antigen tests needed to travel to France must be taken within 24 hours of departure time.

READ MORE France warns it could impose tougher Covid rules on travellers from UK

On top of this, many readers report significant delays when it comes to receiving results on time. One option to get around this would be to use an express testing service, available at some UK airports, immediately upon your arrival. Results are typically processed in about three hours and can cost in the region of €100. If you opt for this solution, remember that you need to check with the test provider that they will provide you with a certificate which is valid for travel to France. 

Your safest option may be to simply book a fit-to-fly test separately from your Day 2 test. 

Covid travel rules between France and the UK are susceptible to change at very short notice. 

Remember that you must have an essential reason for travelling to France. Tourists and people coming to visit their second homes are currently prohibited from entering the country. If you don’t have French nationality or residency, you will likely not be allowed into the country. 

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Reader question: Do non-EU children living in France need a DCEM document for travel abroad?

Adult non-EU citizens living in France know - or, at least, should know - that they should carry their titre de séjour as proof of residence whenever they travel abroad. But what about children?

Reader question: Do non-EU children living in France need a DCEM document for travel abroad?

Under current rules, children of non-EU residents living in France – including post-Brexit Britons – are not required to have a titre de séjour of their own.

But what about when it comes to travelling outside France? How can they prove they are residents in France at border checks?

There is one documents parents of non-EU minors need to apply for called the Document de Circulation pour étranger Mineur (DCEM).

“A foreign minor residing in France is not obliged to hold a residence permit. However, to facilitate their travel outside France, they can obtain a circulation document for foreign minors (DCEM),” reads the French government website.

Plenty of reports suggest that even though non-EU minors are travelling with parents who can prove residency in France, it won’t spare them from being grilled at the border and having their passport stamped. But carrying a valid DCEM would spare all that/

If a non-EU child cannot show a DCEM with their passport, customs officials could stamp their passport on departure and arrival in France or the Schengen area.

This could – in theory – lead to more issues and questions by border police the next time they try to leave or enter France, especially if the two trips are more than 90 days apart, which could see the child classed as an ‘overstayer’.

As non-EU citizens British minors and their parents have also been advised to get the document, as one British father resident in France can attest.

The father who lives in south-west France, said he was told a DCEM was obligatory when he travelled to the UK with his teenage daughter in October for a brief visit.
 
 
“The visit was arranged in a hurry, because we’d just learned my father is terminally ill,” he said.
 
“We knew about the document, but had assurances from the prefecture that we could travel without it. But customs officials at the border handed me a note, with details about the DCEM, as we flew out, having checked my daughter’s passport for an earlier entry stamp, and said we really needed to have it,” he said.
 
“They also checked for a stamp on our return a few days later. When I said we would get a DCEM as soon as possible, we were allowed to continue, but my daughter’s passport was again stamped. We now have one for her, so future travel shouldn’t be a problem.”

READ ALSO What happens if you overstay your 90-day limit in France?

Although a legal requirement border officials will, generally and gently, remind parents of the need for a DCEM.

How do I get a DCEM?

The child’s parent or legal guardian must apply for a DCEM in advance of any travel outside French borders. You can apply online HERE or at your departmental préfecture. 

Once received, this document lasts five years, or until the child in question reaches the age of 18, or until the parents’ right to reside in France ends before the end of either of the timescales.

You will need to supply a number of supporting documents, including:

  • Birth certificate of the applicant (parent or holder of parental authority);
  • Passport (or national identity card, consular identity card, etc.) of the applicant and the child;
  • Family record book or birth certificate showing the established filiation of the child;
  • Applicant’s valid residence permit (unless the applicant is European);
  • School or crèche certificate or any other document for young children that can prove habitual residence in France;
  • Proof of address in the name of the applicant if the minor resides with him, or in the name of the minor if he does not live with the applicant;
  • 2 photographs of the child;
  • Tax stamps (timbre fiscal) in the amount of 50 € to be given at the time of delivery of the DCEM; (However an important difference for Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement is that DCEM’s can be issued for their children free of charge. More info here – Print this document.)
  • Form cerfa n°11203 completed, dated and signed by the applicant (the form can be completed online).

Plus, documents proving your parental or legal guardianship over the minor

  • Marriage certificate, or divorce documents for parents who were married at the time the child was born;
  • Birth certificate of the child mentioning the recognition of the minor before the age of one.

As always, any documents not in French will need to be translated.

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