France is an extremely popular holiday destination, with around 17 million British nationals visiting every year.
However, because of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the French government has tightened the restrictions and requirements for people travelling to the country from the UK. These rules came into force on Saturday 18 December 2021.
Travellers are now required to have an extenuating reason to journey between the UK and France. The authorities have listed acceptable reasons here. Travel solely for work or leisure purposes is currently banned.
What’s the current travel situation?
French citizens, their partners and children and UK citizens with French residency will be allowed to travel. So, too, will EU citizens travelling to their home country through France.
As of 30 December, the French government announced that it will temporarily allow British nationals with residency in EU countries to return to their homes from the UK via France.
Anyone travelling from the UK on to another country via a transiting through France will only be permitted to stay within the international area of an airport for a maximum of 24 hours.
Those eligible to travel to France from the UK will need to show evidence of a negative test (PCR or lateral flow) at their point of departure, taken within the past 24 hours. This already applies to non-vaccinated travellers.
Additionally, all UK travellers must register where they will be staying online. They are also obliged to quarantine for 48 hours at a place of their choice. Production of a negative test (PCR or lateral flow) means they can end quarantine after 48 hours.
This applies to the vaccinated and non-vaccinated.
If you’re still eligible to travel to France, or are considering making a journey once the restrictions are eventually lifted, we outline below what to think about in terms of travel insurance.
What were the entry requirements for travel to France?
Before the latest travel ban came into force on 18 December, fully vaccinated travellers from the UK (12 years or older), whatever their nationality, needed to provide a negative PCR or antigen test result (in paper or digital format) that had been carried out less than 48h hours prior to departure.
Self-administered tests, including NHS tests, were not considered valid for travel, so a private contractor had to be used.
Prior to departure, fully vaccinated travellers entering France from the UK also needed to present a sworn statement certifying the absence of COVID-19 symptoms and of any contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to their crossing.
They also needed to show proof of vaccination.
Printed PDF proof of vaccination status had to date from 1 November to ensure the certificate could be scanned successfully. NHS appointment cards from vaccination centres weren’t intended to be used as proof of vaccination and were therefore not acceptable as proof of vaccine status.
People vaccinated in the UK could import their NHS QR code into the TousAntiCovid app. Travellers could also present a digital or paper NHS certificate showing their full vaccine status.
Travellers who were not vaccinated, had to give a compelling reason to be allowed to enter France (such as being a French resident. Ownership of a second home was not deemed sufficient).
Unvaccinated travellers also had to provide:
The result of a negative PCR or antigen test (in paper or digital format) carried out less than 24 hours prior to departure (providing they were 12yo or older and regardless of nationality). Self-administered tests were not deemed valid.
A sworn statement certifying the absence of COVID-19 symptoms and of any contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to their crossing.
A sworn undertaking to take an antigen test or biological examination on arrival in France.
A sworn undertaking to self-isolate for seven days on arrival in France, and then to take a second PCR test at the end of that self-isolation period.
Travellers from Northern Ireland (whatever their nationality) entering France via the Republic of Ireland had to abide by the rules applicable to travellers from the UK.
Children aged 12 years old or older who were not fully vaccinated and travelling with a fully-vaccinated adult had to present a negative PCR, or antigen, test result but did not have to provide an essential reason for travel or self-isolate on arrival.
Other rules for children said that those aged:
11 years old or under did not need to take a test
12 years old or older, who were unvaccinated and travelling alone, were subject to the same conditions as adults who are not fully vaccinated.
Other entry requirements
Check your passport’s validity before travelling to France. It must be valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave France and be less than 10 years old. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count toward the minimum three months.
At French border control, be prepared to show proof of:
where you intend to stay
travel insurance for your trip
a return or onward ticket
the fact you have enough money for the duration of your stay.
Once in France
In France, you are required to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces, including on public transport and taxis without a plexiglass screen.
You are no longer required to wear a mask in all outdoor public spaces, with exceptions including queues, markets and stations where social distancing is not possible.
You will be required to show your Covid-19 status through the ‘pass sanitaire’ to access events, cultural spaces with more than 50 people and leisure venues including bars and restaurants. Find out more about restrictions and requirements here.
Returning to the UK
Depending on the restrictions in force at the time, you may be required to take Covid-19 tests or even enter quarantine on your return to the UK. This could be at your home or in a government-sanctioned quarantine hotel.
The UK government aims to review its restrictions every three weeks.
Find out more about travel rules for returning to the UK.
Do I need travel insurance for a trip to France?
Travel insurance should be an essential element of any trip that you take. From above you can see that, for travel to France, you’ll have to show evidence on arrival that you have insurance covering all medical, hospital and funeral expenses that may occur during your stay, including repatriation costs for medical reasons.
A comprehensive travel insurance policy will also give you peace of mind that you are financially protected against a number of things that could go wrong while you’re away including cancellation in the run-up to a trip and lost or damaged possessions.
A free Global Health Insurance Card is another essential for a trip to France. This card, which replaced the earlier EHIC version, gives you access to medically necessary state-provided healthcare.
In other words, healthcare that can’t wait until you come back to the UK and provided by the country in question on a like-for-like basis as it would be for local inhabitants.
Travel insurance and Covid-19
Many travel insurance policies now cover medical costs and repatriation as a result of Covid-19. However, you should compare policies carefully to ensure the elements that are important to you, such as cancellation due to Covid-19, are covered.
You should also compare other important elements of different policies such as excess amounts, financial limits and any exclusions to ensure you find the best policy for you at a competitive price.
Use the box below to compare travel insurance quotes.