For what reason can travel France-UK happen?

Readers' questions: We have a sick relative in the UK. If we need to go back quickly, for example, next week are there flights?

17 April 2020

My husband and I live in Brittany and had to come to back to the UK for our daughter's funeral and got caught in the virus situation and can't get back home to France.

My wife and I are resident in France. Our daughter is in her final year at university but has been told that the final term is cancelled and she will need to leave shortly. Will she be able to drive back via the ferry or via Eurostar if she completes the appropriate two attestation forms?

I own 7.5ha of vines and a second home in the Roussillon that need to be maintained and as a UK resident I need to travel through France so will the ‘attestation de déplacement’ allow me to reach my destination if I tick the box ‘cross border workers at internal land borders’ ?


Travel between France and the UK in both directions is allowed in essential circumstances only and there are a limited number of flights, ferries and Eurotunnel trains still in operation.

Within France travel is limited to the reasons on the confinement form, one of which includes urgent family reasons (motif familial impérieux).

The British Embassy has advised Connexion that there is no straightforward yes or no answer as to when British residents in France can make a journey to the UK for essential urgent family reasons.

A spokesperson said it is up to individual readers to make judgements based on their circumstances in the case of a sick relative. Only they will know what the individual care arrangements for a family member are, how vulnerable they themselves are, whether they are able to travel whilst respecting the social distancing guidelines etc.

After having assessed all of this, if they deem that the travel is essential, then the French confinement form allows them to do that. The Embassy has confirmed that travelling for the funeral of a close relative is an acceptable reason.

In the UK there is no definition of essential travel. A statement from Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says: “Whether travel is essential or not is a personal decision and circumstances differ from person to person. It is for individuals themselves to make an informed decision based on the risks and FCO advice. Anyone still planning to travel should check the validity of their travel insurance.”

To travel back from the UK into France you have to fill in the French government’s International Travel Certificate to Mainland France which only allows travel for:

  • Individuals who have their primary residence in France, and their spouses and children;
  • Individuals transiting through France to reach their residence, and their spouses and children;
  • Healthcare workers supporting the fight against Covid-19;
  • Goods carriers, including seamen;
  • Flight and cargo crews;
  • Diplomatic staff or international organisations staff with a special residence permit or a type D promae visa;
  • Cross-border workers at internal land borders;
  • French nationals, and their spouses and children.

Find the form here:

See more: Obligatory new form for any travel into France

The Embassy says anyone making the journey should travel with both confinement forms and travel tickets for each journey, as well as proof of residence in France for the return leg.

This would mean that the couple from Brittany should be able to return to France as it is their primary residence and the daughter who is at University should be able to return to France if it is her primary residence.

It seems unlikely that someone would be able to travel to tend to their vines on land which belongs to a secondary, rather than a primary residence, and that as the UK is not an internal land border the reader would not be able to tick the box “cross-border workers at internal land borders”.

The couple who say they may need to go to the UK for a sick relative may be able to show they need to travel for urgent family reasons and will be able to return as their primary residence is in France, but may have to travel many more kilometres than usual to get to any form of transport across the channel.

Related article: What transport is operating UK-France?

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