Valid reasons to travel from France to UK

As in the spring, travel for leisure and social reasons is not allowed in the lockdown period

3 November 2020
By Liv Rowland

People have asked if, as French residents, they can go back to the UK to visit family during the confinement period. 

Generally speaking, the answer to this is no.

Although the borders between France and the UK remain open because the UK is still considered to be in the ‘European area’, you may not go back just for a holiday or a social visit.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has clarified that, as during the confinement period in the spring, you can only travel abroad for limited reasons, notably for essential work-related trips that cannot be put off or for ‘imperative family reasons’ including childcare and helping vulnerable people or going to close family members' funerals.

So, if you are travelling back to the UK for such reasons, while in France you should keep at hand with you a travel exemption form crossing the 'imperative family reasons' box and also keep at hand any other document you may have proving the reason for travel, including travel tickets. You will need another one when you return to your home in France.

Note that the main travel exemption form can be printed off and used in an English-language version, however this is only in Word document format.

According to an official government Q&A page ‘imperative family reasons’ refers to a situation which is clearly urgent and means you need to travel without delay. 

This could for example include the death or serious illness of a close relative, officials said.

On an online chat page the Police Nationale gave as further examples a close relative having been injured or helping a person who is vulnerable and not able to look after themselves.

Ultimately though there is no comprehensive list of scenarios and it is up to gendarmes or police to decide if the reason you give is ‘urgent’ or not.

Another valid reason for a person to travel to the UK from France during the confinement period would be if you are a visitor to France, eg. you are at your second home in France, and you want to go back to your main home in the UK.

Again in this situation you could tick the ‘imperative family reason’ perhaps adding by hand on the form je suis résident/e au Royaume-Uni et je retourne à mon domicile.

Note that a 14-day quarantine requirement remains in force in the UK for people arriving from France.

As for the return journey for residents of France, people arriving in France from the European area are not understood to be currently obliged to bring a negative Covid-19 test or to have one on arrival, but they are usually asked by travel companies to state on their honour that they do not have symptoms of Covid-19.

You should also bring another travel exemption form for your return trip in France.

Previous articles

Can I travel back to the UK for a funeral? 

For what reason can France-UK travel happen? (April 2020

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