What Covid tests and paperwork do I need for travel to France?

Square in Rochefort en Terre, Brittany, France

France is open to vaccinated travellers from the UK - is Rochefort-en-Terre in Brittany on your must-visit list? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

How have coronavirus and Brexit affected travel to France from the UK? The good news is you can still enjoy holidays and French property viewing trips across the Channel as long as you follow these key steps. 

Briefly, to travel from the UK to France, if you are fully vaccinated you need to provide proof of vaccination and a sworn declaration about your Covid-19 health status. If you’re unvaccinated, you need to provide a Covid test and will need to self-isolate for seven days. Read on for more details about travel to and from France. 

TRAVEL FROM UK TO FRANCE: PROOF OF VACCINATION 

For proof of vaccination, most people use the NHS app on their smart phone. Once registered, when you open the app it should show your personal details (name, date of birth, NHS number) and gives you various options including viewing your GP health record or ordering a prescription, so it’s a handy app to have anyway.  

The first option is the one you want for travel though: ‘Get your NHS Covid Pass’. When you click on this it gives you two options – Domestic and Travel. Click on Travel and it takes you through to your NHS Covid Pass. If you click on ‘show details’ it then takes you through to a 2D barcode for each of your vaccinations. You will need to show the last one you had (the app has now been updated to show booster jabs too). Note that the barcode expires after a month, but refreshes each time you open the app. 

NHS app Covid pass

Use the NHS app to show your vaccination status - Credit: Archant

If you’d rather print out a copy, there are also options to ‘Download a PDF copy’ or 'Receive an offline copy by email’. This is entirely personal preference; you can show the app version on your phone or a printed copy. You may find it easier and quicker to have all your paperwork in one folder, rather than having to open up apps on your phone. Make sure you print it out within 30 days of travel though or it may be out of date. There’s also an ‘Add to Apple Wallet’ option.  

There’s more information on the NHS website, including a video demonstrating how to show your Covid-19 status using the NHS Covid Pass on the app when planning to travel abroad from the UK. 

Note that ‘fully vaccinated’ means travel must be at least seven days after the second shot for two-shot vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca); four weeks after the one-shot vaccine (Johnson & Johnson); or seven days after the shot for vaccines administered to people who have already had Covid-19 (only one dose is necessary). Only vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (Pfizer [Comirnaty], Moderna, AstraZeneca [Vaxzevria], Johnson & Johnson [Janssen] or AstraZeneca [Covishield]) will be accepted. 

From 15 December, people aged 65 and older or who were vaccinated with a Janssen vaccine must provide proof of booster vaccination for their Covid certificate to be extended. 

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TRAVEL FROM UK TO FRANCE: UNVACCINATED  

As the UK is on France’s orange list, travel is restricted for unvaccinated people. You must: 

• Provide results of a negative antigen/lateral flow or PCR test taken within 24 hours of departure (you may be asked to take a test on arrival too) 

• Provide a certificate stating an essential reason for travel 

• Self-isolate for a period of seven days once you arrive in France, then take another PCR test following this period of self-isolation 

Full France travel advice can be read on the UK government website 

Note that the information within this article is for those travelling between the UK and France. There are different rules depending on your country of departure, and these are outlined on the French government's website.

There’s also more information and this handy graphic on the French Consular website.

Coronavirus rules for travel to France

Travelling to the UK from France - Credit: Consulate General of France in London

TRAVEL FROM UK TO FRANCE: CHILDREN 

The measures applicable to vaccinated adults also apply to any minors accompanying them, whether vaccinated or not. This means vaccinated adults can travel with their underage children, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, and they won’t need to self-isolate. Unvaccinated children aged 12 and over will need to present a negative test result. 

TRAVEL FROM UK TO FRANCE: SWORN DECLARATION 

All travellers will need a sworn declaration, which you can download from the French Interior Ministry's website stating that you have no Covid-19 symptoms, and to your knowledge have not been in contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the 14 days prior to your journey. 

TRAVEL FROM FRANCE TO UK 

As France is now on the UK’s simplified ‘non-red’ list, fully vaccinated people are no longer required to self-isolate on return to the UK. You must: 

Provide proof of your vaccination status (either NHS Covid Pass for England and Wales, NHS Scotland Covid Status app or CovidCert NI in Northern Ireland; or the paper certificate). Your final dose of the vaccine must have been administered at least 14 days before you arrive in the UK.  

• Book and pay for a Covid-19 test – this must be booked before you travel to the UK and must be taken before the end of day 2 in the UK (the day you arrive is day 0). You can choose a lateral flow test or a PCR test. 

• Complete a passenger locator form – to be completed in the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK. You will need to enter your Covid-19 test booking reference number on your passenger locator form. 

• If you get a positive result for your lateral flow test on day 2 back in the UK, you must take a PCR test to confirm the result, and must self-isolate until you get the PCR result. If it’s positive, you must self-isolate for 10 full days.  

If you were vaccinated outside of the UK, you can check what proof is required for the country or territory where you were vaccinated. 

If you are not fully vaccinated, you must: 

• Present a negative Covid-19 test, taken in the three days before you travel to the UK 

Book and pay for day 2 and day 8 Covid-19 PCR tests, to be taken after arrival in the UK 

• Complete a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK 

• Quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 full days 

• Take your day 2 and day 8 Covid-19 PCR tests – you must book these before you travel (if your day 2 test is positive you do not have to take the day 8 test) 

• If either test result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 full days (you may be able to end quarantine early if you pay for a private Covid-19 test through the Test to Release scheme) 

Check the UK government’s full travel advice here.

ARE THERE ANY COVID RULES ONCE YOU’RE IN FRANCE? 

A health pass (pass sanitaire) system is in place for many public venues in France (over-65s must show proof of their booster jab too, and from 15 January 2022 the health pass will no longer be valid without the booster dose). Keep track of the latest developments in our article about France's 'pass sanitaire'. 

Face masks are compulsory (from 26th November) in all indoor public spaces including those requiring a health pass from tomorrow and must also be worn in busy outdoor spaces such as Christmas markets. 

France health pass sanitaire

You'll need a health pass to enter restaurants and bars in France - Credit: Getty Images

People vaccinated in the UK can now import their NHS QR code into France’s TousAntiCovid app. You can also present a digital or paper NHS certificate showing your full vaccine status.  

In President Macron’s televised address to the nation on 9 November 2021, he warned that the fifth wave of coronavirus has begun. 

If you test positive for Covid while in France, you must self-isolate; the same goes if you are waiting to be tested because you show signs of the illness; if you are waiting to be tested because you have been identified as someone who has been in contact with someone who has the illness; if you have tested negative but you are an at-risk contact; if you have tested negative but live under the same roof as someone who has the illness. 

HAS BREXIT CHANGED TRAVEL TO FRANCE? 

These are the key travel changes to be aware of since the UK left the EU: 

• Length of time on passport: Your passport must be valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave France (or other EU country); however, it is recommended that you have six months left on the passport before you travel (to take into account the fact that you may stay visa-free for three months within the EU). Your passport must have been issued within the previous 10 years.  

• Older burgundy passports with the EU stamp on the cover are still valid for travel but these are gradually being replaced by the navy blue UK passports.  

Navy blue British passport

The new navy passport - Credit: Archant

• Passport stamps: Your passport will now be stamped on entry and exit from Europe/France. Make sure it is stamped as this is proof of how long you have spent in the EU; if not correctly stamped, it could cause problems when you wish to return to the EU/France, due to the 90/180 rule (below). 

• British travellers can no longer join the EU queue at passport control. You may also be asked more questions than previously when the UK was part of the EU; such as reason for your visit, intended duration of visit etc. 

• Length of time allowed to stay in the EU: British nationals are now only allowed to spend 90 days within 180 days in Europe. Read more here  

• To stay longer you will need to apply for a long-stay visa