Why are passenger locator forms still needed for France-UK travel?

The forms were introduced as part of Covid tracing measures but with quarantine and tests no longer needed for most arrivals, some have questioned their use

All travellers to the UK are required to fill out a passenger locator form
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Updated March 25, 2022: The UK removed passenger locator forms and all other Covid-linked travel restrictions on March 18. Please see our Covid travel rules article for up-to-date information here: Rules for travel to and from France

The UK government has declined to explain fully why it still requires fully vaccinated travellers to fill out passenger locator forms (PLFs) before travelling to the country.

The forms were first introduced as part of Covid tracing measures and to allow authorities to monitor people to ensure they were following Covid-related guidelines, such as quarantining on arrival.

The UK relaxed Covid-related travel rules on February 11. It means that now, people who are fully vaccinated only need to fill out a PLF in the 48 hours before travelling.

They do not need to quarantine or take any pre-departure or post-arrival tests.

Non-fully vaccinated travellers must still take a pre-departure test and a second test within two days of arriving, although they do not need to self-isolate on arrival. They cannot come to France from the UK without an essential reason, which means having the right to live or work in the country, so are a restricted group.

A spokesman for the UK government told The Connexion that the PLFs will remain in place for everyone, although the measure is always under review.

“Our utmost priority is protecting the health of the public.

“Passenger Locator Forms continue to play an important role, ensuring the NHS can contact those who need to take a day two test [this is only unvaccinated travellers who, if returning to their homes in the UK, would have needed an essential reason to visit France], and that passengers have the correct COVID-19 certification to safeguard against new variants.”

The spokesperson declined to provide an answer when asked why fully vaccinated travellers must fill out the form.

They also declined to explain what they meant by “have the correct certification to safeguard against new variants”.

The vast majority of people who travel to the UK from France are fully vaccinated.

Several Connexion readers have asked why they must still fill out this form, which can take around 30 minutes to fill out, seeing as there are no testing and quarantine rules in place.

Every person has to fill out a form - it is not per family - although children can be included on one of the declarant's forms if they are all staying at the same address in the UK.

What is a passenger locator form?

The forms must be filled out online in the 48 hours before the traveller heads to the UK. They should be shown at check-in counters, whether travelling by plane, train or ferry.

To complete the form, passengers must provide:

  • Passport details or the travel document they will use when they arrive at the UK border
  • Travel details, including times and dates
  • The address where they will stay in the UK (if applicable)
  • A booking reference number for any Covid tests you they must take after arriving in the UK (if applicable)
  • Details of whether they are vaccinated and where they were vaccinated

The UK government website states that the information on the form is used to “contact you if someone you travelled with develops Covid symptoms”.

In today’s context, that means that passengers could be alerted if an unvaccinated person who travels with them tests positive for Covid when they take their day two test.

In the UK, people who are fully vaccinated or those under 18 are not required to self-isolate if they are flagged as having been in contact with someone who is positive for Covid. They are, though, advised to take regular antigen (lateral flow) tests, meaning one a day for seven days.

The government also states the information on PLFs “could be used to check you are following quarantine rules”, although this part is seemingly no longer relevant.

It adds that passengers’ information “will be kept for 42 days then deleted, unless it’s needed for related work”. It is not clear what is meant by “related work”.

France briefly required British people to fill out a similar form, known as an éOS-Passager form, but dropped the requirement when it relaxed rules for British arrivals.

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