Covid travel: What rules apply if I transit in France on way to UK?

The UK says that you need to follow the rules for the highest risk country you have been in in the past 10 days - and this can include transit stops. We explain.

30 July 2021
By Thomas Brent

Reader question: I am travelling to the UK via France from Austria and I have to change flights in Paris. Does that mean that the UK quarantine rules that apply to visitors from France will apply to me?

Yes, if you get off the plane or any new passengers get on, then you will be subject to the travel rules that apply to France.

The UK government states that for England, you need to follow the rules for the highest risk country or territory you have been in - or passed through - in the previous 10 days. This can include transit stops. 

Its definition of a transit stop is:

“A stop where passengers can get on or off the same part of the transport in which you are travelling. It can apply to ships, trains or flights. Your ticket should show if a stop is a transit stop.”

This is the same case for travel to Wales. The governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland do not specifically mention rules around transiting, so it is assumed that the general UK government rules apply. 

The rules of a country or territory that you make a transit stop in will apply if:

  • New passengers get on and are able to mix with you

  • You or other passengers get off the transport you are on and mix with other people, then get on again

The rules will not apply if:

  • No new passengers, who are able to mix with you, get on

  • No one onboard gets off and mixes with people outside

  • Passengers get off but do not get back on

It means that if you are driving from, for example, Germany to the UK via France, then it will not count as you having been in France if you do not get out the car and mix with other people. 

Currently, all vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers from France to the UK must quarantine for 10 days on arrival, and pay in advance for two Covid tests to be taken on day two and eight of the quarantine. They must also present proof of a negative Covid test pre-departure. 

In England, it is possible to pay for a third test in order to exit quarantine on day five. 

For up-to-date travel rules, see our guide here.

Related stories:

UK minister’s statement on France Covid quarantine and Réunion flawed

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