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Reader question: What do I need to do when I return to France from UK?

Reader question: What do I need to do when I return to France from UK?
Arrivals in France from the UK face strict checks. Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP
One group of people who are allowed to travel between France and UK over Christmas are French residents or British citizens visiting friends and family in the UK - but what is the procedure for testing and quarantine when they return to France?

Question: I’m British and I live in France. I’m currently in the UK where I have been spending Christmas with my family. I’m due to travel back in a couple of days, but I’m confused about what paperwork I need and how long I need to quarantine for?

Since December 18th strict rules have been in place that cover travel from France to the UK and vice versa. So if you either left before the new rules came into play or you fit into the “essential motives” for travel, there are some things you need to know about the return journey.

Before you travel back to France?

The first thing you need to do is get a test. This can be either a PCR or antigen test, but it must have been taken within 24 hours of your departure time.

Be aware that testing in the UK is not like it is in France and you cannot simply wander into a pharmacy to get an antigen test.

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In order to be accepted for travel you need a full results certificate or report with information such as the type of test, date and time and the name of the provider. This will be checked by the travel company such as Eurotunnel and possibly also by border police. (An example below)

Not all tests offer this in the UK, so you may need to book a specific travel test or a ‘fit to fly’ test. French rules specify that most home-test kits are not accepted, but certain types of test that are done at home and then sent to a laboratory for processing can be accepted. This covers some types of Day 2 test, but check with your provider.

Feedback from people who have made the journey suggests that the least stressful option is to go to an airport and get a rapid-result PCR test, although these can be expensive, or a for cheaper option an on-site antigen test. These generally need to be booked in advance.

Paperwork

At the border you will need to present a hefty file of paperwork. Some transport operators also require you to upload the relevant forms to their website before you arrive at the airport/port/terminal so check carefully the requirements for travel.

You will need;

  • A negative Covid test result, taken within 24 hours of your departure time.
  • Attestation de déplacement vers la France Métropolitaine depuis le Royaume-Uni – this is the form you fill out explaining why your journey is essential. Residents or citizens of France have their own box to tick and you can prove your status with either a passport or residency card, or a long-stay visa. You can find the form on the French government website HERE. The website offers it in several formats – if you intend to print it out download the Pdf, if you want to fill it in online download the Word or TXT document, fill and the details and then save it as a Pdf.
  • Declaration sur l’honneur – this is the form you fill in declaring that you do not have Covid symptoms and have not knowingly been in recent contact with Covid patients. You can find it HERE.
  • The Eos online quarantine form – this form is the one used to alert the authorities to your quarantine address. You fill in the online form HERE and submit your details, whereupon it generates a QR code for you to show at the border.
  • Proof of vaccination – the new rules do not actually distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers, but if required you can prove your vaccinated status using the TousAntiCovid or NHS app.

Quarantine

Once you’re back in France, that is not the end of the process.

You must quarantine for 10 days – although this can be ended early if you test negative for Covid 48 hours after your arrival – and the quarantine can be done at an address of your choice, including your home, a hotel or the home of family or friends.

When you fill in your Eos form you receive a formal Arret préfectoral, issued by the préfecture that covers your arrival location (not where you live, so for example everyone arriving via Eurotunnel receives an Arret from the Pas de Calais authorities). This is an official document that orders you to undertake a quarantine. Breaking an order like this from the préfecture is an offence.

The Arret lists your name and quarantine address and requires you to stay there for 10 days, or until a negative Covid test is performed 48 hours after the time of your arrival in France.

During your quarantine period, police can come and check up on you, although if you need to run essential errands you are allowed to do this between 10am and 12 noon. You should stay within 1km of your home address to complete essential errands like food shopping, where delivery is not possible. 

It is permitted for close family members to visit during your quarantine, although the visit must take place in a well-ventilated room and mask-wearing and social distancing should be observed. It is recommended that visits last no longer than four hours. 

If you decide to take the test after 48 hours this can be either a PCR or antigen test, and there is no requirement to register the results, once you get a negative result you are free to leave quarantine.

What about children?

The above rules all apply to children aged 12 and over. Under 12s do not need to take a test before departure, nor do they need their own separate versions of the forms.

Once in France, under 12s are not required to quarantine, so children can go to school or holiday club while their parents quarantine.


Member comments

  1. Arrived at Marseille last night and drove down to Perpignan. Obviously more paperwork required at Border but the same for everyone. To be honest main emphasis and checking was in relation to the online portal form and scanning the QR code. Staff knew what was required and were being professional but not at all difficult. Like so many of our recent experiences travelling to and from France you just need to be organised before you leave the house. Most complaints or moans that I hear of are from people who don’t make the effort to understand what is required. I am afraid that if you want to travel in Covid times you have to accept it is more difficult and needs a bit more planning. If you turn up at a port or airport and don’t have paperwork or relevant Covid tests done then sorry but that is your look out.

  2. Is it possible to stop for a night on the return?. We are coming back to France (Pyrenees) later in the month with our dog and usually stop halfway for a night as it’s a long way.

  3. I just got back from UK. I used Randox Certifly to get into France. 21 pounds (75 at airport) and got the certificate to fly and QR code emailed to me minutes after uploading the test to the app.

  4. Can someone please define quaranteen?

    Does it mean when you get to your French residence, you lock yourself in?
    Are you allowed out to buy groceries or whatever or do you need a friend to be a temporary caregiver?

  5. I followed the published guidelines and returned Portsmouth to Caen then drove home with no problems encountered.
    Negative test day before travel and after 48 hours Ok so all is good.

    Happy safe New Year to all.

    1. Where did you get/do your French test? Did you get one on the way? Or go into a pharmacie when you got to/near your home? We have a two day drive from Calais to our new home, so we’re wondering where/when to get our tests…

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