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Reader question: Can I use a Lateral Flow Test for travel to France?

With strict testing requirements in place for entry to France, many readers have asked if the UK Lateral Flow Tests can be used for travel purposes. The answer - it depends.

Reader question: Can I use a Lateral Flow Test for travel to France?
Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP

Question: I’m travelling from the UK to France and I know I need to show a negative test taken within 24 hours of my departure time – but my question is whether I can use a Lateral Flow Test for this or whether it needs to be a PCR test?

PCR tests are always accepted for travel, but since results are needed within 24 hours for UK arrivals, many PCR providers are not able to provide results in time for travel.

The French travel website states that the test for entry can be ‘either a PCR or antigen test’.

So this seems pretty straightforward. However, the UK has different types of Lateral Flow Tests on offer, and not all of them meet the French travel standards, which is why this question doesn’t have a simple answer.

READ ALSO When will France lift its 24-hour test requirement for travel?

Firstly the UK government is clear – NHS Lateral Flow Tests cannot be used for travel purposes, so you face paying for your test and unlike France, there is no limit set by the government on how much test providers can charge.

The French requirement for tests is that you need a test certificate showing your name, date of birth, type and date of test and of course, the result. QR codes are helpful but not essential as long as the certificate has the necessary information. 

This certificate can be presented either on paper, in a digital format or scanned into the French TousAntiCovid app.

UK Lateral Flow Tests come in different forms and not all of them give the required certificate.

If you’re using a home test kit that does not provide a certificate then you cannot simply take the little plastic results strip to the travel terminal with you (for some reason staff aren’t keen on handling something that contains the results of your nasal swab) and a photo of it is not accepted either.

If you book a test described as a travel test or one that includes a ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate that will give you the paperwork you need.

Likewise if you go to a testing centre in an airport or travel hub that offers on-the-spot results for travel you will get the certificate that you need.

In between this is a bit of a grey area as some firms offer tests that you take at home under video supervision – the French requirement is not concerned with the circumstances in which you take the test, but only with having the correct certificate type so in this case you will have to check with the provider to ensure that you get the paperwork you need in order to travel.

You can read full details of the rules for travel between France and the UK HERE.

Bear in mind that once you are in France you will need a vaccine pass to enter many everyday venues – full details HERE.

Member comments

  1. I had a lateral flow ‘fit to fly’ test in Folkestone last week before travelling via the Eurotunnel.
    It was at a test centre but I had to insert the swab myself whilst the assistant watched. Quite easy really.
    I had the result within 45 minutes.
    I took the precaution of going to the local Mcdonalds whilst waiting for the result so that I could use the free Wi-Fi to upload the result to the Eurotunnel site.

    The price was £39.99, but having searched the internet looking for a test centre, I found them as expensive as £179 for the same type of test. Definitely shop around.

    P.S. The sooner this ridiculous test requirement is dropped the better.

    1. Hi Les, please would you mind sharing the name of the test provider in Folkestone? I’ll be visiting family there soon so that would be the most convenient place for me to get a test to travel back to France. Thanks, Laura

      1. Hi Laura.

        No problem.

        The name is Hope Travel Clinic and they are located at this address;
        Unit 5
        Triumph Park, Ross Way, Shorncliffe Industrial Estate
        Folkestone, Kent
        CT20 3TX (SAT NAV- CT20 3UJ)

        Scroll down their page to find the £39.99 test as the first items are more expensive.

        Hope that helps. Les.

          1. Just so that you are aware. The test centre is in a small yard on that industrial site although they did have their own parking spaces.
            It did seem to be a bit of an ad-hoc setup but at least they were efficient.
            They do require your Passport for checking too, so that info’ can be included on the result document.

            Good luck. Les.

  2. Hi Laura.

    No problem.

    The name is Hope Travel Clinic and they are located at this address;
    Unit 5
    Triumph Park, Ross Way, Shorncliffe Industrial Estate
    Folkestone, Kent
    CT20 3TX (SAT NAV- CT20 3UJ)

    Scroll down their page to find the £39.99 test as the first items are more expensive.

    Hope that helps. Les.

  3. Can I use a lateral
    Flow test that I do at home then upload the results to a fit to fly app that gives me a certificate?!
    How does anyone know if I did the test properly if so?!
    Thanks

  4. Can U.S. residents use video confirmed home antigen tests, that are CDC approved to re-enter the U.S., to fly to France?

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

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The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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