Visits to second homes in France and FCO advice

Does FCO travel advice stop me visiting my French second home?

1 July 2020
By Liv Rowland

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is still advising against “all but essential” travel abroad – including to France – but this is expected to change imminently.

While it is in place it can have implications for anyone wanting to travel from the UK to France, including those with second homes in France.

The “all but essential” advice, which has been in place since March 17 at the start of lockdown in France, is expected to be removed for countries with which France establishes ‘travel corridors’ (also called air bridges), a list of which is promised this week.

Following a review on Monday of its strict 14-day quarantine requirements for those arriving from outside the country, the UK’s transport minister confirmed these ‘corridors’ are being set up with a number of countries where coronavirus is considered to be under good control.

The UK press speculate this is very likely to include France. In practice it should mean that visitors from France, and UK visitors to France returning home, will no longer need to enter self-isolation. France, in turn will therefore lift its ‘voluntary’ self-isolation requirement for those coming from the UK.

At the same time the FCO ‘travel advice’ for France will change to be less restrictive.

What is FCO travel advice

Giving travel advice is part of the job of the FCO, which is the UK’s foreign affairs ministry.

In usual circumstances it issues this per country, with information about whether it is safe to travel there, considering factors such as political unrest, natural disasters, terrorism etc.

However across the board advice against foreign travel was issued in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that travel and quarantine rules in different countries were in flux.

This was also due to the fact that air travel was being disrupted with Britons staying abroad liable to find themselves stranded without commercial flights available to go home.

Flights between the UK and France however are now increasingly more available. 

Can you still travel against FCO advice?

FCO advice against travelling to a country – or all countries – does not mean it is illegal to do so, or that it is impossible to book travel, however it means you should think carefully about doing so especially if the trip is not urgent.

The FCO advice is also the reason why some travel firms, such as ferry companies, have been saying on their websites that it is running trips for ‘essential travel’ only. It is left to your own discretion, however, as to whether you think the trip is ‘essential’ and the firms do not verify your reason.

The FCO has also never spelled out the exact meaning of the term though it is known that it does not include a holiday.

More importantly, if you have taken travel insurance to cover a trip, or you have a general travel insurance policy for the year, the Association of British Insurers says it is likely to be invalidated if you travel against the FCO advice, such as making a trip for pleasure to your second home.

Some travel insurance factors such as baggage insurance or cancelling a flight for personal reasons such as health will not be relevant if, for example, you are driving over to visit your second home, however other aspects such as for healthcare in certain private clinics, or repatriation costs would still be relevant.

With regard to other insurance cover, The Connexion has been told by the ABI and two leading UK car insurance firms that car insurance including European cover will remain valid (though you may wish to check with your own insurer to be sure), as is RAC and AA European breakdown cover and Ehic card cover for any essential healthcare that becomes necessary during a trip. 

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