Travel (and return) from the UK to France in 2021 – requirements and rules

What do you need to do and organize when traveling between the UK and France in terms of paperwork requirements and quarantine rules for crossing the border and travel rules from the UK? Here is our experience.

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Travel from UK to France

I was unsure whether to write this post because, as soon as I write this, there is a high probability that the rules will change and it will become obsolete.

So, let me start with this warning: This is my experience of moving from the UK to France in October 2021. If you’d like to read about my experience of returning to the UK from France, I’ve put it at the bottom of this update, but please remember it was a while ago and the rules have almost certainly changed since then!

Please see the most up-to-date travel guide from the UK government here.

Finally- there is nothing here to encourage anyone to break, bend or roll the travel rules prescribed by the current government guidelines. Please stay safe and help others to do the same.

Okay, out of that way, let’s start with the specifics.

Travel from UK to France – Wrong!

Things did not go smoothly on our trip from the UK to France in October 2021. Here’s what happened (click on the picture to see).

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What documents do you need to travel from the UK to France:

  • Passport (see expiration date)
  • The NHS app is showing valid vaccines. If you are not vaccinated, check the UK Gov website for rules and you will need an essential reason to travel.
  • Declaration of Honor (for the French side)
  • Tous Anti Covid App (found here)

Don’t forget to bring everything you need in France / Europe – get your free checklist here

Mr. WB has traveled with our dog Mac. We don’t need an Animal Health Certificate because Mac has a French passport. If you want to know how the rules for traveling with animals have changed since Brexit, click here.

Once the NHS app worked, it was surprisingly easy. The hardest part was the QR code (thanks to AirDrop) from my phone to my laptop so I could scan it into the Tous AntiCovid app.

We did not bother to hold any tests to return to the UK because I believe the rules are changing by the end of October. If you’re not sure, check out the UK GOV website.


Previous trip (since May 2021)

This is the experience of traveling from France to the UK in May 2021. I believe it is almost old now.

Understand the layers

There are currently 3 different levels of countries – red, amber and green. There are different rules for when you will travel to the UK depending on the country you are going to. Here is the current list.

Also, they are only interested in the country you visited 10 days before entering the UK. My experience was from France, which was then an amber country.

If you have been to a country on the red list in 10 days or less Before entering the UK, you can only enter at the time of writing if you are a UK citizen / resident and you pay the quarantine at a COVID hotel.

Planning a trip to France? You may find this post useful:

Travel from France to the UK – all you have to do

Before I traveled from France to the UK, it felt a bit like a military campaign চেষ্টা trying to organize what needed to be done and do it within the right timeframe.

Here’s what I recommend for everything:

  • Book your exact travel time from France to the UK
  • Book your PCR-COVID-19 test in France or the country you are in (must be done within 72 hours of arrival at UK border)
  • Book your dog’s veterinary tapeworm appointment (1-5 days before the trip)
  • Order your UK Covid tests to be delivered to your quarantine location
  • Get this UK Covid test registration number (required for your passenger locator form)
  • Fill out your Passenger Locator form (can be done up to 48 hours before arrival at UK border)
  • Everything is printed out
  • Have a large glass of wine or a cold beer – you’ve got it. (Unless you must be driving!)

PCR COVID-19 test

One of the most important things you need to do before being able to cross the border is to have negative COVID test evidence. You must go for this test within 72 hours Reached the UK border… Not as easy as it seems.

In France, they have a place called Laboratories. This is where you get blood tests and other fun tests that your doctor asks you to do. Each major city has at least one laboratory and the city can have more than one. It is unlikely that you will find them in small towns and rarely in villages- you are looking for large settlements. You can also get them at some pharmacies. Here is some information to help you find and book places

(On a side note, this will definitely count as an ‘urban area’, so if you travel in a motorhome over 3.5 tons, be sure to display your blind spot warning stickers!)

To book, you need to contact the laboratory or pharmacy (I recommend at least one week before your test needs) and book for your test in the time window. Make sure they know it’s a test for travel (‘full voyage’) so they keep it on track quickly.

Despite their flaws with many other parts of the epidemic, the French testing system has worked incredibly well. My exam was booked for 10.20am and I received the result in my email by 5pm that same day!

To get tested, I need:

  • Proof of ID (passport or cart de cesar)
  • Payment / French healthcare card
  • Email address and phone number

Planning to move your motorhome to Europe?

Tests are required for a dog

When we talk about testing, you’ll be glad to know that travel with dogs from France to the UK hasn’t changed – they still have to go to a veterinarian 1-5 days before the trip to get a tapeworm tablet. And stamped your passport or animal health certificate. (This is going from the UK to France where the rules have changed – read our guide on traveling to Europe with your dog here.)

Things print out

Once you have completed the form, you need to start printing. Both the French and the UK wanted to print documents at the border, not saved on phones or laptops. You will need a printed copy:

  • Your negative PCR COVID-19 test (I recommend printing at least 2 copies if Border wants to keep one)
  • Passenger locator form you fill out (again, at least 2 of these are printable)
  • A visa (if you need one to enter the UK or citizens do not usually need a visa)

Other things to keep in mind- now that the UK is not in the EU, there is a duty-free limit. See how much alcohol / tobacco / cash you can carry here.

Returning to the UK from France – across the border

Honestly, after all these paperwork, the actual travel experience was not as bad as I expected. I was asked a lot of questions at both the French and UK borders about the reason for my trip, where I was going and who to contact. But not something unexpected.

Why masks were strictly enforced on the Portsmouth ferry (which sadly closed its pet-friendly cabins) and you can only travel if you book a cabin. Also, they dropped people off in their vehicles by a color system or the floor number of your cabin, so not too many people gathered around. I believe the restaurant was open, but the bars and shops were closed, although I didn’t use any facilities and stayed in the cabin for a while. Poor Mack had to stay in the car for the first time, which wasn’t our first choice, but he was right.

Once back in the UK, most people usually have to quarantine at home. Here is the current guide on how to do it.

The Day 2 and Day 8 testing kits were easy to use and understand and I received the results via email within 24 hours of posting the test, which was really impressive. Be sure to use a priority post box to make sure your kit arrives at the center on time – you can find the one closest to you here.

And that was it. Was it a faff? Yes. Is it necessary to be careful? Definitely.

In my opinion, the UK has done a great job of vaccinating people (especially compared to the rest of Europe), which is why it is important to take extra precautions when traveling from any other country.

Again, that was my May 2021 experience. It’s not clear how long the above will be valid, but I hope you find it useful.

Stay safe!

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