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When will France fully lift travel restrictions on the UK?

The French government has announced the first relaxation of its strict travel restrictions for the UK, but when can we expect all limitations to be lifted?

Travel between France and the UK is currently heavily restricted.
Travel between France and the UK is currently heavily restricted. Photo: Sameer Al Doumy/AFP

The full announcement has now been made – click here for full details.

France has announced a slight relaxation to its travel rules for the UK, expanding the categories of permitted reasons to travel, particularly in relation to work-related travel.

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

Many restrictions, however, remain in place. 

So when can we expect those to be lifted?

Essential reasons

Currently travel to and from the UK is only allowed for people who meet very narrow criteria for essential travel.

You can find the full list HERE but it basically encompasses people returning to their country of origin or country of residence, diplomats and – from January 6th – essential work travel and transit through France to return home to another EU country.

There is no provision for family visits and very few accepted compassionate reasons for travel. Visits for tourism or second-home owners remain barred.

Those who qualify to travel still face a lot of paperwork and testing.

Omicron variant

The UK travel ban was first put in place over fears of the Omicron variant, but as French government spokesman Gabriel Attal admitted last week “the Omicron variant is affecting both countries in a similar manner”.

Both France and the UK have seen record daily case numbers and increasing pressure on hospitals.

Although this does mean that the original reason for the travel ban no longer exists, it could also mean that the French government is reluctant to lift restrictions completely until the current wave has peaked – something that experts predict will happen at the end of January.

Timeframe

Attal mentioned “next week” as a possible timeframe for loosening restrictions, although this could still see constraints on travel for tourism and second-home owners.

On January 11th Alexandre Holroyd, the MP who represents French people living in the UK, tweeted that after extensive discussions with the government a “considerable easing” of the rules would be announced soon.

The next key date in the tourism calendar is the February school holiday, a time particularly important for the ski industry, where resorts are usually busy with both domestic and international visitors.

If the wave peaks as predicted, it seems likely that travel will be open again in time for the February holidays, although many tourists have already cancelled or declined to book because of the ongoing uncertainty.

Sport

Coming up in the sporting calendar is the Six Nations rugby tournament in February and March, which involves France, Italy, Scotland, Wales, England and Ireland.

Whether the games can be played with full crowds depends on the health situation, but a further addition to the list of essential reasons was travel by elite athletes for competitions, with the approval of the French sports ministry.

We will update our Travel section – HERE – as soon as any announcements are made.

Member comments

    1. When Omicron first ‘raged.’it made sense ,particularly it was a simple border to close ,now it doesn’t.
      Let’s hope it opens soon with proper testing.

  1. People coming from the UK are now the only fully vaccinated travellers required to carry out an obligatory quarantine period after coming to France.

    That surely shows the contempt the French politicians have for the UK. Disgraceful and childish. Macron seems to be acting like a spoiled brat.

    1. Completely agree. And, by the way Mr Macron, most of the people who want to come to France will have voted REMAIN!!! So don’t punish us, we love your country!

  2. Macron is a bitter and twisted spiteful man intent only on revenge. His pettiness reveals him for what he is and yet he even has no care for his own ski tourism industry which he’s decimated in the process. No wonder we left the EU

    1. Many of the decisions on both sides seem politically motivated rather than based just on the science. Of course had we still been in the EU we would not have the restrictions of movement we now face.

    2. Not sure why you are commenting on here .I could understand your comment it it was on the Southampton Echo,Birmingham post ,or most likely the fount of all knowledge the Daily M.

      1. Because I reside also in Switzerland and regularly transit France or stay over en route to my home there !!! This week Im going via Holland !

  3. I don’t really agree with the ‘it was all politics’ or, particularly ‘spite’ comments.
    With the precautionary principle, and UK showing high Omicron growth, it was reasonable to try to slow that down in France.

    I do think, though, that by now there is no benefit to France & the restrictions could be lifted.

    If it isn’t lifted by Thursday, I will have to cancel the trip we have booked to see family at the end of the month.☹️
    I’m philosophical, though, because some political inertia is inevitable (& much worse decisions have been taken/avoided in the UK).

  4. Let me understand this. A British passport holder and Carte de Sejour … with homes in France and England … am I allowed to “wander” freely from and to England? Yet quaranteen at both ends?
    And pay a months salary for the privilege of getting a PCR test? 🙂

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COVID-19 NEWS

French parliament blocks return of the health pass for international travel

France’s new government has suffered an early setback as Parliament blocked a key part of the new Covid protocol bill, removing a clause that could have seen the return of the health pass at the French border.

French parliament blocks return of the health pass for international travel

The veille et de sécurité sanitaire bill is a roadmap for how the government intends to handle the Covid situation after the current health state of emergency ends on July 31st. 

The proposed legislation had provided for the possibility, if required, to restore the health pass for travel in and out of France, meaning travellers over the age of 12 would again have to show proof they have been vaccinated against the virus, have a recent negative PCR test, or have sufficient immunity after recently contracting the virus, in order to be allowed to enter France.

But, during a heated first reading – the atmosphere in the chamber was likened to a football match – MPs voted to remove the key article on the return of the health pass for travellers entering France from other countries.

The modified bill was adopted by 221 votes to 187 and 24 abstentions – mostly by MPs from the left – in the final vote on Tuesday night. 

The bill – which in its current form merely allows authorities to continue to collect health data on screening tests – must now go to the Senate.

“The times are serious,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Twitter, as she promised to “fight for the spirit of responsibility to prevail in the Senate.”

Health Minister François Braun also promised to “fight” in the Senate to restore the removed article to the bill, which he said had been “emptied of part of its content”. 

On July 8th, France passed 150,000 Covid-19 related deaths since the start of the pandemic in 2020. 

The country has seen a spike in infections since the end of June, due to the presence of the highly contagious Omicron and subvariants.

National health agency Santé Publique France reported around 120,000 infections per day over the week.

More than 1,000 patients with Covid are in intensive care, while over 17,000 remain in hospital.

France’s current health rules specify the use of the health pass only for hospitals and nursing homes – it is no longer in use for everyday venues like bars, restaurants, gyms or cinemas.

Masks are “strongly recommended” on public transport, but are only compulsory in hospitals and health establishments.

International arrivals from certain countries are required to show proof of either vaccination or a recent negative test, but most of the world is now on France’s ‘green’ list of countries with minimal travel restrictions. 

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