France lockdown: Can I visit from the UK to help my parents?

Helping elderly parents is considered a valid reason for travel in France.

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Reader question: I live in the UK but my parents live in France and have sold their home, to be signed on 31 December. I need to travel to help them move to their new property as they are both in their 80s, have underlying health problems and live in a remote part of the country.

Would this qualify as a reason for essential travel during the lockdown restrictions in both the UK and France and what documentation would I require?

This does qualify as a reason for essential travel in France, although you will need to travel with a few documents to verify your situation.

An official from the French Covid-19 helpline said: “The parents need to give a written statement saying that their child is travelling to help them move house as they are old.”

As well as this, you must carry proof of identity for your parents (such as a photocopy of their passports) and a travel exemption form, ticking the box Déplacements pour motif familial impérieux, pour l'assistance aux personnes vulnérables et précaires ou la garde d'enfants.

The travel exemption form is available to print and download here (in French). There is an English version available and also an easy-read version with pictograms. There is also a digital version available via the TousAntiCovid smartphone app.

When booking travel to France the travel company will usually also ask you to attest to not having symptoms of Covid-19. If this is not the case it would be advisable to complete and bring with you a “sworn statement” available on the French Embassy website, declaring you have no Covid-19 symptoms and have not been in contact with anyone who does in the preceding 14 days.

The UK government is currently advising against all but essential travel to France for “work, education and other legally permitted reasons”.

We were unable to obtain confirmation on whether travelling to help elderly relatives would qualify under permitted reasons, however we note that one reason for travelling during the UK lockdown is 'emergency assistance'.

Additionally, if you do travel to France in the current circumstances, note that your travel insurance may be invalidated if you are found to be travelling against the travel advice, so you should check with your insurer and notably clarify the urgent nature of the trip.