Brexit: Covid rules set to ban UK visitors from France

From January 1 the UK leaves the European area with regard to coronavirus travel restrictions, bringing tough new rules

10 December 2020
By Liv Rowland

Travel between the UK and France, with the exception of residents returning home, is set to be banned indefinitely from January 1, as the UK is fully classed as a non-EU country with stricter rules relating to Covid-19 and travel.

European officials are next week to review guidelines on travel into the EU from certain outside countries deemed to pose a low risk, but the UK is not expected to meet the critiera.

If, as expected, it does not, this will affect all visitors, including second home owners.

As The Connexion reported two weeks ago, the UK will be fully outside the EU from January 1, meaning it also leaves the European area with regard to Covid-19 health controls.

This means that coming into the EU from the UK will be subject to strict limits, unless the UK is placed on a small list of countries deemed low-risk.

An overall recommended list is maintained by the Council of the European Union and reviewed every two weeks; this is in turn used to compile national lists. France’s list is very similar but not identical to the council’s list.

An EU source told The Connexion the main list will be reviewed next week for the last time this year.

The criteria used for placing on the list are that the country should have rates of new cases in the last 14 days close to or similar to the EU average in June this year, the trend of cases should be decreasing and the overall response of the country to the pandemic in terms of contact tracing, testing etc should be good.

EU sources cannot technically rule out the UK joining after next week’s review. However the comparison below of new cases per 100,000 people over the most recent two-week period in the UK with countries on France's 'safe' list according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control means it looks unlikely:

Australia: 0.53

Japan: 22.53

New Zealand: 1

Rwanda: 3.63

Singapore: 1.64

South Korea: 13.89

Thailand: 0.26

UK: 289.94

Clearly the situation in the UK bears no comparison with that of the countries on the list; its rates are also higher than those in a number of EU states. More positively, however, the ECDC does report that the UK is among countries where there is a trend of decreasing rates.

People entering France from non-European countries not on the French list must bring with them an Attestation de déplacement vers la France Métropolitaine (this is unrelated to the forms people currently use for going out of the house).

On this you must cross one of a few, very limited, reasons for travel into France, including being a foreign national who is legally resident in France and who is returning home.

The only other exceptions given relate mainly to coming to France to do certain kinds of work (such as medical work fighting Covid or transporting merchandise), or coming for treatment in a French hospital.

European guidelines to member states advise also that other people with ‘imperative family reasons’ should be allowed to enter, however this is not included on the French form.

This means for example that British second home owners would not be allowed to enter to visit their French homes.

This situation is not expected to change until such a time as the UK is placed on the ‘safer countries’ list because the Covid-19 situation there is very well controlled, or that the EU decides the pandemic has subsided to the extent that it may open its external borders again.

The French government has also discouraged travel from France to non-European countries without an 'imperative' reason, however we understand that there is no hard-and-fast ban on this.

  • Note that those travelling into France from third countries not on the list also need to arrive having taken a negative Covid-19 test in the previous 72 hours, or if they are from certain countries where it is considered difficult to obtain a test, will need to take one on arrival in France.

Previous articles

Brexit: What changes at the border in 2021?

Brexit: Will UK-France travel be restricted from January?

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