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UK-France travel: Do I need three Covid jabs or three tests?

One reader seeks clarification on whether a booster dose is needed for travelling between the two countries

New travel rules in France and the UK mean that travellers between the countries will need to take more Covid tests Pic: Cryptographer / Shutterstock

Reader question: In one of your latest articles, you wrote that one needs three Covid tests to travel between the UK and France. Surely this should be three injections and one test two days, or less, before you travel?

Our reader is referring to our article ‘Travel between France and UK: Three Covid tests now needed’, published on December 6. 

In it, we outline what Covid tests people will need to travel from France to the UK and back again, and vice versa. In both scenarios, travellers will need to take (at least) three tests. 

To recap, when travelling from France to the UK and then back to France, travellers will need:

  1. (Before leaving France to go to the UK) A pre-departure Covid test (PCR or rapid antigen) taken in France within 48 hours before departure for fully vaccinated travellers, and 24 hours before departure for non-fully vaccinated travellers (this applies to everyone aged 12 and over). 

  2. (when in the UK) A test on arrival in the UK, taken on or before day two after arriving. This must be booked before travel, with the reference number added to the passenger locator form

  3. (Before leaving the UK to go to France) A pre-departure Covid test (PCR or rapid antigen) taken within 48 hours before departure for fully vaccinated travellers, and 24 hours before departure for non-fully vaccinated travellers (this applies to everyone aged 12 and over).

If you are travelling from the UK to France (and back), all the same steps as described above apply, but the order changes, so you need:

  1. A negative PCR or rapid antigen test in the 48 hours before leaving for France (required by France)

  2. A negative PCR or antigen test taken on the day of departure or the previous two days before leaving for the UK.

  3. A day two PCR test (and day eight test if not fully vaccinated) after arrival in the UK (required by UK)

Our reader is perhaps confused between France’s new rules requiring people to have a booster dose (usually meaning a third dose) in order for vaccination certificates to remain valid with the health pass system. 

Within France, a health pass is required to go to many public places, including restaurants, cafes, bars, cinemas and museums. 

From December 15, everyone aged 65 and over will have to have a booster vaccine dose for their vaccination certificates to remain valid with this system. 

From January 15, this will apply to the rest of the adult population. 

You can read more about how these new rules that apply to the health pass are separate from the vaccination rules that apply to international travel in our article here: Do over 65s need Covid booster jab to leave France from December 15?

Related stories:

France announces six new Covid measures in bid to combat fifth wave

Will over 65s still get priority for Covid booster shots in France?

Covid: What will Christmas in France be like? This is what experts say

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