Covid restrictions: can I visit my second home in France?

Beautiful houses in Argentat, Correze (c) Gemadrun-Getty Images

Beautiful houses in Argentat, Correze (c) Gemadrun-Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Does the so-called Stanley Johnson loophole really give French property owners carte blanche to go abroad despite coronavirus restrictions?

There has been a lot of press coverage on a loophole in the government Covid travel restrictions that allows British people to go abroad to visit their second homes.

Dubbed the‘Stanley Johnson clause’, the exemption gives Brits a permitted reason to travel internationally if it’s to carry out “activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property”. It was named after Boris Johnson’s father who reportedly flouted Covid restrictions last summer, claiming that he needed to go to Greece to prepare his villa for letting. The Prime Minister refused to criticise his father’s actions, despite the inevitable controversy.

Many media organisations have reported that the loophole will come into force on March 29, when the Government’s ‘Stay at Home’ guidance is lifted, to be replaced by ‘stay local’ guidance. In fact, carrying out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property was already a deemed a valid reason for travelling internationally during the lockdown, and there will be no change to this rule on March 29.

However, as the Government advice remains to not travel unless essential, people will be expected to provide convincing proof that they genuinely need to travel.

You will need to fill out a declaration form and provide evidence such as proof of contract, proof of place of residence, expiring residence permit, letter or appointment details from estate agent, relevant contract or letters detailing sales, or other appropriate documentation.

There are several other permitted reasons to travel abroad, including for essential work, volunteering or study, on medical and compassionate grounds, for a funeral, for some weddings and civil partnerships, or to fulfil legal obligations.

Entering embarkation points where you can travel out of the UK (including airports, ferry terminals and international rail hubs) with the intention of travelling out of the UK without a reasonable excuse is a criminal offence for which you could be fined.

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