Positive signs for France-UK Christmas travel

Changes are coming in both the UK and France which should make it easier to make family visits across the Channel

23 November 2020
By Liv Rowland

Will it be possible to travel from France to the UK to spend time with family in the UK over the festive period?

It is impossible to answer this categorically at present but the signs are hopeful.

More information is expected today from the British government as to the relaxation of quarantine rules in the UK and President Macron will speak tomorrow night about plans to ease the confinement restrictions in France.

Borders are not closed between the UK and France because the UK is still considered to be part of the European area.

However the current lockdown rules, which only allow people in France to be out and about for set reasons, mean that you should not consider travel in the EU at present for purely social or recreational reasons.

This is not likely to be checked at the airport but if leaving your home for travel, you could be asked by police to show a  standard attestation de déplacement dérogatoire form, with a reason for being out, which would be limited to, for example, an ‘imperative family reason’ or ‘to help vulnerable people’ or otherwise for work.

You should also bring such a form on coming back from the UK, on which you could write a note by hand stating you are returning home after a visit for such a purpose.

The good news is that a French government spokesman has said we can expect a phased easing of the lockdown rules, firstly from December 1, then ‘before the end-of-year holidays’, and finally from January next year.

The details remain to be clarified but if the requirement of attestation forms is eased to allow people to spend time with families in France over the holiday period then it would be also possible to travel to the UK for this.

There is a further restriction, however, in that the UK still has a 14-day quarantine requirement in place for those arriving from France.

This means that people going to the UK to see family should travel to one destination – such as a relative’s home – and stay there for at least 14 days.

If they are visiting the UK for less time than this they should remain in isolation for the whole duration of the stay. Rules on how to self-isolate are listed here

It is widely reported in the UK press today that before the Christmas period the UK intends to reduce this quarantine requirement to a minimum of five days.

However it is thought that people will only be allowed to cut the period short if they obtain a negative Covid test, either with a PCR test, which had take several days for the result, or one of the new rapid antigen tests, which give results in less than an hour.

It is said however that the UK will not make the tests free, and they can cost over £100.

More detail on the policy is expected later today.

There could be a further complication for anyone coming back into France from the UK from January 1.

This is because with the end of the Brexit transition period it is possible the UK will no longer be considered part of the European area. The Connexion has asked the British Embassy in Paris about this point but has not yet had a reply.

If the UK is not in the European area any more there are two expected effects – you would need to arrive in France having had a negative Covid test in the last 72 hours, or otherwise you will be asked to take one in the airport on arrival. If testing positive you would be expected to self-isolate in France.

You should also bring an international travel form, showing one of a few limited reasons for travel, notably that you are a legal resident of France. The form also includes sections in which you swear on your honour that you do not have symptoms of Covid-19.    

Previous articles

President Macron speech to offer clarity on lockdown end 

Can I travel back to the UK for a funeral?

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Brexit and Beyond for Britons in France*
Featured Help Guide
What the Brexit deal means for UK residents of France, second homeowners and visitors in 2021 and after
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now