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Can I return to France from UK before Day 2 Covid test result arrives?

The UK now requires arrivals to self-isolate until results of Covid test come back negative. We explain what happens if you want to leave before the results come back

People travelling to the UK from abroad must take a PCR Covid test within two days of arriving, and self-isolate until the results of the test come back Pic: Cryptographer / Shutterstock

(Note: From today December 4, France requires travellers, whether vaccinated or not, coming from outside the EU to take a pre-departure test within 48 hours of beginning their journey and present a negative result)

Reader question: My wife is due to fly to the UK on December 24 and return to France on the 29th. She is not staying near a test centre and the Christmas period means there may be delays in getting PCR test results back. Will she be able to return to France without a negative result as the rules say you need to self-isolate until a negative result is obtained?

The measure, which came into effect on November 29, will last a minimum of three weeks. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the new rules on tests would be reviewed after the three weeks, by which time they should have better information about the “continuing effectiveness” of vaccines.

We put our reader's question to the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, where a spokeswoman told The Connexion that in the case of England:

“No matter the time frame...You must quarantine until you receive a negative test, or until you leave England, whichever is sooner.”

However, the UK government’s website states that this is only the rule “if you’re in England for less than two days”. 

The Connexion asked the spokeswoman for 100% clarification on this rule, and she reiterated that people can leave England again even if they do not have their test results back “no matter the time frame”. 

If our reader’s wife is planning to travel to England in December then, she will be free to leave even if the results of her Covid test do not arrive before the date she is set to depart. 

This information only applies to England. The government information pages of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales do not mention a similar rule. The Connexion has contacted each of the governments and is awaiting reply. 

The UK updated its Covid travel rules on November 30. Now, all international arrivals to the country, regardless of vaccination status or country of departure, must take a PCR test on or before day two of their arrival in the UK, and must self-isolate until they receive a negative result. Results can take at least 24 hours, and sometimes longer, to come back. 

Read more: Booking a UK Covid test to comply with new France to UK travel rules

The UK’s health department spokeswoman stated that regardless of the length of your stay in the UK, “you still need to book a PCR test as the reference number is included on the passenger locator form”.

Returning to France

A new complication for people heading to the UK for Christmas will be returning to France. 

The French government announced on December 1 that all travellers arriving in the country from outside the EU (so including the UK) will require a negative Covid test, taken before departure. 

This applies to both vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers. The test must have been taken in the 48 hours before arriving in France for vaccinated travellers, and 24 hours in advance for non-vaccinated travellers.

Read more: Negative Covid test for vaccinated non-EU arrivals to France

Further details about this, such as what type of test it must be and when the rule will come into effect, have yet to be announced. 

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See what other readers like you are asking including: How often is a rabies shot for dogs required for France-UK travel? Will my French health pass become invalid if I refuse my booster dose? ​​Can foreign residents benefit from France's pension top-up benefit? and more. 

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