BREAKING: France ends ban on UK holidaymakers from tomorrow for vaccinated travellers

Jan 13, 2022

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This article has been updated.

British travellers heading to France will no longer have to self-isolate on arrival or show proof that their trip is essential.

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The rules change from tomorrow, 14 January comes 27 days since France pulled up the drawbridge to British visitors over fears of a cross-Channel omicron invasion.

However, the requirement for a negative COVID test, conducted 24 hours before their visit, remains in place.

Related: 10 most underrated destinations in France to visit now the travel ban has eased

In a tweet, French minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said: “We are relaxing the entry conditions to France from the UK for vaccinated travellers.”

“End of compelling reasons and isolation on arrival a negative test < 24h will be requested at the start.”

“The decree will be published tomorrow morning, with immediate entry into force.”

Whispers began to echo along the corridors of the Élysée Palace that the travel detente – which destroyed festive plans for thousands of Brits – was about to be lifted earlier this week.  Just in time for the tail end of ski season.

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“Following numerous discussions with the government, considerable reductions in health measures at the borders will be announced very soon,” tweeted French National Assembly member Alexandre Holroyd, on Tuesday.

Skiline is among a host of British tour operators that began to put French ski holidays back on sale from as early as this weekend.

“We are expecting the French Government to make an announcement this Wednesday to confirm that British vaccinated skiers can enter France from this Saturday, 15 January 2022,” said a statement on its website. “We are offering the catered ski chalets listed below for departures from London Heathrow this weekend for just £799pp which includes flights, transfers and fully catered accommodation.”

At the time, adding that if no announcement were to be made, a full refund would be guaranteed.

It was a punt that paid off for the holiday booking site. “If the announcement is made as we expect,” they said, “you will be one of the few lucky skiers in France this weekend.”

Related: 10 beautiful French islands you didn’t realise existed

How did we get here?

On18 December, British travellers were barred from entering France without “compelling reasons”, though French citizens and their spouses were allowed to return home for Christmas.

It was billed by French authorities as un disjoncteur (a circuit breaker) as Omicron cases in Britain surged past 100,000 new infections a day in the build-up to Christmas. 

But the measures made little difference as France continued to post record daily cases of the COVID-19 variant. On 12 January, French media reported that the number of new infections in France had topped 200,000 for two days in a row.

As a result of the ban, thousands of British holidaymakers found their plans for a festive ski-break scuppered, spawning such newspaper headlines as “Brit family devastated after £3,800 Christmas skiing holiday ruined by France’s ban”.

​​”We are devastated, we were all looking forward to it as a family,” Maxine Lane-Badenhop told MailOnline after being forced to cancel her family holiday at a cost of almost £4,000.  “We don’t know what we are going to do for Christmas now.”

She added: “’I’m cynical, I don’t know, but is this a French and Britain thing about Brexit?”

With Britain no longer part of the EU, it is now considered a “third country” whose citizens are subject to the same rules as those of other nations outside the bloc. “Unless they hold French residency, British citizens are now considered third-country citizens and can no longer transit France by road to reach their country of residence in the EU,” Eurotunnel said in a tweet on 29 December.

In response to this, however, Brits who use Eurostar to cross the Channel before driving on to other European countries were offered an olive branch as, on 30 December, French authorities promised to show them “tolerance”.

However, the ban not only affected the holiday plans of thousands of holidaymaking Brits, but has also severely damaged French ski resorts which relies more on British custom than on any other overseas nation. 

“The domestic French market is enormous, but the reality is that the Brits and international travellers make up the ‘profit’ of most businesses in resort,” a spokesman for ski equipment retailer Intersport told PlanetSki. “So the travel restrictions have been a complete disaster for almost every corner of resort life.”

Bottom line

While it may have been incredibly disruptive for many, especially those with plans to visit France during the Christmas period or take advantage of their popular ski resorts, the ban has now been lifted.

The move comes into effect from 14 January with the requirement for a negative COVID test, conducted 24 hours before any visit.

What are the current rules for Brits who want to travel to France?

According to the British Foreign Office, ​​”all those wishing to travel from the UK to France, regardless of vaccination status, can only do so for essential reasons, as defined by the French authorities.” This will remain in place until rules change on 14 January when the ban on other forms of travel is due to be lifted. 

On 6 January 2022, the French government introduced additional categories to the list of essential reasons for travel, including for some business travel and for UK nationals who are resident in other EU Member states or assimilated countries (EEA countries, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and Andorra) who intend to transit France to return to their country of residence.

If you, or your family, are eligible for “essential” travel to France, here’s what you must do:

  • All travellers aged 12 years and over must present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken within 24 hours pre-departure.
  • Before travel, anyone coming from the UK must provide contact details, including the address they will be staying at, to the French authorities via an online form.
  • All travellers must present 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’.
  • All travellers must provide a completed ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying they 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.
  • Upon arrival in France, all travellers must self-isolate for 48 hours, after which time a negative PCR or antigen test is required to exit self-isolation. Without a negative test result, you will be required to self-isolate for 10 days. Please note that these cannot be self-administered tests. Only those taken by a professional at a testing site or pharmacy are valid for leaving self-isolation.

Featured image, of Val d’Isere ski resort in the French Alps, by ventdusud/Getty Images

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