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France has finally opened its borders to the UK on 14th January 2022 after a long month of draconian restrictions which have caused havoc amongst ski and winter holiday makers and their respective hosts, including Undiscovered Mountains, in France. So, vaccinated British travellers can now come to France without any compelling reason and don't need to isolate but there are still things you need to know. This article aims to answer all your questions to help you plan a smooth and stress free journey to come join us in the French Alps as soon as possible! We have missed you!
Background to border closures
Macron justified closing the borders to all non-essential travellers from the UK on the 18th of December 2021 to stem the spread of the, at the time, relatively unknown, Omicron variant. However, as the Christmas holidays passed and January progressed and France's population became infected at historical speed, with more cases than any other European country including the UK, the borders remained inexplicably closed.
Members from any other country in the world, including of course Europe, but also South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first detected, and America, with their own record cases were allowed in. The Brits, no. Why? Many have speculated as to the reasons why the United Kingdom was singled out with political posturing being the most popular theory, but why damage the prized ski industry by denying them of their favourite foreign tourists - it's a bit like biting off your nose to spite your face...? So we will never really know!
The New Rules and What you Need to Do
The full rules are detailed below and can also be found on the French government website.
If you are fully vaccinated (see ‘vaccination status’ below) you must:
- Present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken within 24 hours pre-departure if aged 12 years and over.
- Provide a completed ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying you’re not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight. This can be found on the French government’s website
If you are unvaccinated or do not have a complete vaccination status:
- You will need to self-isolate on arrival in France for 10 days, subject to police checks (which are carried out).
- Provide a negative PCR or antigen test result taken within 24 hours pre-departure if aged 12 years and over.
- contact details before travel to France, including the address you will be staying at, to the French authorities via an online form.
- a completed international travel form to prove the reason for essential travel. This can be found on the French government’s website. In exceptional circumstances, the French Consulate in London may be able to assist with travel for a compelling reason not listed as an ‘essential reason for travel’.
- a completed ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying you are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight. This can be found on the French government’s website.
You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to France. You should arrange to take a private test from a private coronavirus testing provider. Test results must be certified by a laboratory to be accepted.
All travellers might be asked to take a test upon arrival in France, including at Gare du Nord for Eurostar arrivals. Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 will be subject to mandatory self-isolation for 10 days.
Update for Teenagers aged 12 - 18
The French government has updated its guidance on entry requirements for red list countries, which UK is currently on and has confirmed that unvaccinated “minors” can enter France with a vaccinated adult.
France’s interior ministry now says: “The measures applied to vaccinated adults are extended under the same conditions to their accompanying minors, whether vaccinated or not.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s guidance has also been updated. In relation to children travelling to France it now says: “The same measures applied to vaccinated adults are applied to any minors who are travelling with them, whether vaccinated or not.”
The French embassy in London has confirmed that “minors” refers to all those under the age of 18.
Updated on 18 January to reflect new information on travelling to France with minors.
However, once in France the Health pass still applies to teenagers so they won't be able to access ski lifts, restaurants, public transport without full vaccination status.
How to Prove your Vaccination Status and the French Health Pass:
At the border, you will need to show paper or digital proof of your vaccination status. The easiest way to show this is to 'Europeanise' your NHS certificates using the French TousAntiCovid App as you will need this once in France too.
Once in France, to be able to access ski lifts, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, use public transport, attend any public gatherings...and pretty much anything else you might want to do that involves meeting people in public, you need a 'passe sanitaire'. (health pass)
The health pass consists of the presentation of medical proof of your vaccination status in digital (via the TousAntiCovid app) or paper format (QR code). To get the digital format you will need a smartphone and to download the French TousAntiCovid App. It is very easy to use and has an English language version. It recognises NHS QR codes which you need to scan in. It will tell you if you are ok or not with a green tick! You will show this certificate each time you enter a public place.
As of the 15th January 2022, France's 'passe sanitaire' (health pass) rules are being toughened up and you will need to be vaccinated. Previously you could be unvaccinated and show a negative test, but this is no longer valid.
For people aged 12 and above:
Proof of completion of a full course of vaccination with the necessary period of time after the final injection, i.e.:
- 7 days after the second injection for double-dose vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca).
- 28 days after the injection for single-dose vaccines (Johnson & Johnson)
- 7 days after the injection for vaccines for people who have previously had COVID-19 (only one dose).
From 15 January 2022, anyone aged 18 and over will have to have had a booster jab seven months after their last injection or infection, for a valid health pass.
If you have completed a full course of vaccination but do not have a QR code (this applies to Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar), you can get your paper certificates validated and get a QR code from any pharmacy in France.
For children under 12 :
For entry into France and to places with 'health pass' requirements, the vaccine status of their parents or accompanying guardians shall apply.
Brexit and Travelling to France from UK
And, there is Brexit and the new rules since we left the EU may still unfamiliar as most of us haven't done much travelling since.
For British travellers to France:
Since 1 January 2021, British nationals have been subject to more in-depth checks when travelling. They are encouraged to allow additional time for border control and use the queue labelled 'Ressortissant de pays tiers' rather than 'EU / EEA / CH'.
British nationals who are not resident in an EU Member State and who wish to travel to France for a short stay (a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period), or who are in transit to another Member State or to the Schengen area, do not require a visa.
Travellers need to:
- present their passport with at least six months' validity, which will be stamped upon entering and leaving the Schengen area. The maximum duration of a short stay cannot exceed 90 days within a period of 180 days;
- be able to prove that they have sufficient funds to meet their needs during their stay. With some exceptions, the minimum required in France is calculated as 65 euros per day. Examples of proof include cash or a bank statement;
- obtain travel insurance covering all medical, hospital and death expenses that could be incurred during their stay in France, including repatriation costs for medical reasons. Current EHIC cards will still be valid until their expiry date.
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