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Can I travel to France from the UK? All the testing and entry rules you need to know

Travel rules between France and the UK have changed a number of times since the beginning of the pandemic.

The country cautiously reopened to vaccinated British arrivals in June 2021, was stuck for months on the UK’s amber list and eventually introduced different entry requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers.

Now the omicron variant has prompted a new alteration in France’s travel rules for British visitors.

So how will this affect your break or holiday there this winter?

Here’s everything we know so far.

What are the current rules for Britons visiting France?

Since July 2021, the entry requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors have been different: fully vaccinated travellers must show proof of vaccination, with a second dose having been given 14 days before travel, and fill in a “sworn statement” (déclaration sur l’honneur) confirming the state of their health.

Meanwhile, unvaccinated travellers must have an essential reason for travel to France (confirmed in an International Travel Certificate) and a negative Covid test result (PCR or antigen) taken within 24 hours before departure, as well as a sworn statement form. Under 12s are exempt from the testing requirement.

However, on 1 December, French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced that from Saturday 4 December, France will also require all non-EU travellers - including those from the UK - to show a negative Covid test result in order to enter the country.

The test result can be from a PCR or an antigen (lateral flow) but must have been taken within 48 hours of arrival; children aged 11 and under remain exempt from this requirement.

The additional rule has been introduced to cope with the emergence of the omicron variant, which has been detected in countries including the UK, South Africa and Australia.

It applies regardless of vaccination status, and vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers still need to show their specific documents, as outlined above.

How long will the new testing requirements be in place?

Governments around the world are tightening travel rules and adding extra tests to their entry requirements, to help track and prevent the spread of the omicron variant, which is feared to be more transmissible and vaccine resistant to previous iterations of Covid-19.

The decree announcing the new rules (as well as negative test results required for arrivals from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Mauritius, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe) says that they come into force from 4 December, but does not give an end date.

However, if France is implementing new travel rules in line with other countries’ approaches to the omicron variant, it will likely review the restrictions within the next month, once scientific advisors know more about the potential impact of omicron.

What about testing for travel between EU countries?

The decree published on 2 December outlines that travellers from EU member states (as well as Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland) can enter France with proof of vaccination or a recovery certificate, as before.

Anyone from an EU country without one of these documents must also present a negative test result taken within the 24 hours before travel.

What are Covid rules like on the ground in France?

While France is not currently imposing any major lockdowns or curfews, you do need a “pass sanitaire” with a QR code in order to access many venues and events.

These include leisure facilities (bars, restaurants, museums, cinemas), hospitals, retirement homes and modes of transport such as long distance train and bus journeys and planes, as well as ferries to Corsica.

For vaccinated Britons, this means uploading a current, in-date NHS Covid Pass to the TousAntiCovid app; for unvaccinated visitors, this means having a negative result from a PCR or antigen test taken within the last 24 hours.

Mask-wearing is strictly enforced in all indoor spaces (when moving around, in places such as restaurants and cinemas) and outdoor markets nationwide, while some communes have also reintroduced mask wearing in outdoor public areas as of 26 November.

From 15 December, anyone aged 65 or over who has been fully vaccinated for more than six months and five weeks will also have to have had a booster jab to be able to use the pass sanitaire.