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Reader question: Can I travel to the UK with my French partner?

France's strict new rules on travel also cover leaving the country, so what's the situation for Brits living in France who want to travel with French or European partners and children?

Police at Gare du Nord, Paris
Leaving France is subject to strict controls. Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

Question: I’m British and I live in France and was planning on visiting family in the UK over Christmas. I know that I’m allowed to travel under the new rules, but will my French partner and our children – who are French citizens – be allowed to travel with me? Or will I have to choose between seeing my elderly parents in the UK or my partner and children on Christmas Day?

Since borders were also heavily restricted in 2020, many Brits living in France have made plans to see loved ones in the UK this year, but unfortunately on December 18th France imposed strict new rules on travel to and from the UK.

This rules out all non-essential travel including tourism, visits from second-home owners and visits to family and friends in France.

Everyone who travels must fit the criteria for a motif impérieux (essential reason) – you can find the full list of those here.

France’s travel rules cover both entry from the UK and exiting France to go to the UK.

The situation on travel with partners initially caused some confusion, but now an updated permission form that is specific to the UK has been provided, which makes things a lot clearer. 

Leaving France

Among the categories allowed is ‘returning to their country of residence or their country of origin’ – so this covers UK nationals travelling to the UK, even if they do not live there.

The category goes on to state ‘as well as his or her partner and their children’ – so this would cover a British person’s partner of any nationality, plus their children.

The form uses the French term conjoint, and clarifies this as couples who are either married, pacsé (in a civil partnership) or concubiné (living together).

If you are living together but not married or pacsé it is possible to get a certificate of concubinagefull details here – but if you do not have this you may need to provide proof of joint residence such as joint utility bills.

Returning to France

The form you tick to leave France rather worryingly adds ‘without guarantee of re-entry to France without an essential reason’.

However the categories of people allowed in to France include those who have their permanent residence here, so you will be permitted to return home. Expect to provide proof of residency at the border – either a carte de séjour or visa or – if you do not yet have the carte de séjour – proof that you have applied for one.

French nationals are allowed back into the country, so French partners are covered by this reason. Non-French partners are allowed in with proof of permanent residence in France.

Paperwork and quarantine

Even if you qualify to travel under the essential reasons categories, expect to fill out a lot of paperwork, take many Covid tests and quarantine on your return to France, even if you are fully vaccinated. You can find full details of the French rules here.

And of course the UK has its own rules, including Day 2 tests and quarantine on arrival, find full details of the UK rules here

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