Now that the UK is no longer in the EU, there are a number of differences to take into account when travelling between France and the UK, and a substantial amount more paperwork is needed than before.
To eliminate any confusion, we’ve put together this guide with everything you need to know about customs restrictions, passports, and border requirements post-Brexit. We’ve even included a handy checklist at the end to make sure you don’t forget anything.
IMPORTANT: Please note that this article concerns general post-Brexit travel information and does not cover any Covid-19-related travel restrictions – we recommend that you always double-check the latest travel regulations for the UK (which you can find here) and France (which you can find here) before travelling.
Passports, Visas, and Travel Requirements for 2022
What are the changes regarding your travel documents and visa requirements now that the UK has left the EU?
I’m a British citizen and wish to travel to France:
As a British citizen travelling to France post-Brexit, there are three main changes to be aware of:
- Your Passport
Since the UK left the EU, new navy blue British passports are now available. However, if you still hold a valid EU-style burgundy passport, this will remain valid until it expires, so there is no need to change your passport. More importantly, in order to travel to the EU, you must have more than six months left on your passport before the expiry date.
The official wording for this is that your passport must be:
- valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave France or any other Schengen country
- less than 10 years old (the three months you need when leaving a country must be within 10 years of the passport issue date).
Read our article Is Your British Passport Valid After Brexit?
- Your Travel Health Insurance
Post-Brexit, British citizens can no longer apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). However, current EHICs will remain valid until their expiration date, and British citizens will still be able to benefit from reciprocal emergency travel health insurance through the use of either a current EHIC or by applying for a GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) – see our article on the EHIC and GHIC for more details.
It’s important to note that the official guidelines state that a GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance (more on this in a moment).
- Your right to travel to the EU
As the UK is no longer in the EU, British citizens can only travel to France and the EU for a period of 90 days within every 180 days without a visa. It’s important to understand how the 90/180 days in the EU are calculated as it can be a bit confusing, and it is your responsibility to ensure that you do not overstay the 90 days – fines apply if you do, and multiple overstays may lead to further problems.
Your passport will be stamped each time you enter and leave the Schengen Area, and supporting documents may be required (more on that in a moment).
If you wish to stay longer than this, you must apply for a visa in the UK. Our complete guide to French visas will help you decide if you need a visa and what kind of visa you need.
I’m a British citizen resident in France and wish to travel to the UK
If you are a British citizen (i.e. you still travel using a British passport) but are also a permanent resident in France, there are also new rules to be aware of when you travel between the UK and your home in France.
The above-mentioned rules regarding your British passport also apply to you, so you should ensure you have at least six months validity on your passport before travelling (if not, you can renew your British passport from France). You are not subject to the 90-day when returning to France, but you must always travel with your Titre de Sejour (residency card) in order to prove this (more on this in the border section below).
As a French resident, you are also entitled to apply for an EHIC in France (find out how to do that here), which will cover you for essential healthcare while visiting the UK. Note that as a non-resident UK citizen, you do not have a right to use the NHS when travelling in the UK without this card (an exception to this is holders of an UK-issued S1 form).
Travelling with French friends or family
It’s also worth mentioning that if you travel to the UK with friends or family members who are French citizens or citizens of another EU country, they will now need a valid passport in order to enter the UK (it was previously possible to travel using their National ID card). However, they won’t need a visa to visit for tourism purposes for up to six months, and they will also be covered by their EHIC.
Border Control: What To Expect When Travelling Between France and the UK
Whether arriving at an airport, ferry port, or Eurotunnel station, British citizens arriving in France will no longer be able to use the passport control lanes reserved for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. There are also additional documents that you will need to show when you arrive at border control. Here’s what you need to know.
I’m a UK resident travelling to France
If you are a British citizen and UK resident coming to France for under 90 days, we’ve already established that you do not need a visa to enter France. However, you should bring with you the following:
- Proof of accommodation (options listed below)
- Proof of second home ownership (for example, a recent electricity or property tax bill, or copy of the deeds)
- Proof of your hotel, Airbnb, gite, or other accommodation reservation
- An ‘attestation d’accueil’ from a host with which you are staying (for example, a friend or family member) – this must be requested by your host from their local Mairie and sent to you prior to your arrival in France
- Proof of sufficient funds to cover accommodation if you do not have proof of where you will be staying (see below).
- Proof of travel insurance:
- Travel insurance policy certificate, which covers you for all medical and hospital expenses in France, including repatriation costs and expenses (which are not covered by your GHIC). See the guidelines on what your travel insurance policy should include here.
- GHIC card (optional but recommended).
- Onward or return ticket showing the date you intend to leave France and/or the Schengen Zone (it goes without saying that this date should be within the allowed 90 day period)
- Proof of sufficient funds to cover the duration of your stay – a recent bank statement or cash (for shorter stays). The amount of sufficient funds is determined as follows:
- €65 per person, per day, assuming you already have a hotel or similar accommodation booking.
- €32.50 per person, per day if you are staying with hosts (and have the above-mentioned ‘attestation d’accueil’) or at your own property.
- €120 per person, per day if you have no proof of accommodation
After presenting all requested documents, you will have your passport stamped to show the date that you entered the Schengen zone. Do make sure your passport is stamped whenever you enter or leave the Schengen zone; otherwise, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.
Post-Brexit border controls: How strict are they likely to be?
The above list is taken from the official requirements for entering France, which you can view here.
A question that many Brits have been asking is whether or not these documents will really all be required – after all, it’s quite a lot of paperwork for travellers who are used to regularly hopping over the Channel with little more than a passport. When it comes to documents such as travel insurance and the ‘attestation d’accueil’, many Brits have reported passing through border control in 2021 without being asked for all of the above documents; others have reported being asked for them.
With regards to health insurance in particular, we’ve heard reports of Brits entering the country on a 90-day visa and also being granted temporary long-stay visitor visas with only their EHIC/GHIC – however, the official guidelines above state a need for a separate travel policy.
It remains unsure how strict border controls will be in the future, but the bottom line is that border control agents are within their legal right to ask for some or all of these documents before permitting you to enter France, and they may refuse you entry if you cannot supply the requested documents.
Our best advice is therefore to follow the rules and make sure you have all the correct paperwork – better safe than sorry.
Arriving in France with a long-stay visa
Note that if you hold a long-stay visa, there may be other documents you need to bring with you – see our step-by-step guide to applying for a French long-stay visa, and follow the specific guidelines issued to you depending on your visa type.
I’m a British Citizen and French resident travelling to the UK
As a British Citizen who is permanently resident in France, you won’t have any extra requirements for entering the UK (although you will, of course, need to present your passport and any Covid-related documents). However, there are some things to be aware of when leaving and re-entering France.
Firstly, it is your responsibility to present your Carte de Séjour residency permit along with your passport when leaving and entering France. As a French resident, you are not subject to the 90-day rule and should not have your passport stamped when leaving or entering France. However, over the last year, there have been mixed reports of residents having their passports stamped or not. Hopefully, as the rules become clearer to border guards, these inconsistencies will iron themselves out, but it’s a good idea to be proactive and clearly state that you are a French resident before handing over both your Carte de Séjour and your passport.
Ultimately, if your passport is stamped, don’t worry – legally, your residency permit trumps the stamp, and your right to residency will not be in question. However, it can make it awkward when leaving the country, as border guards may wrongly assume you have overstayed the 90 days.
Customs Regulations: What Can I Take Between France and the UK
Now we’ve covered all the necessary documents, another important change to be aware of are the rules and regulations regarding customs – i.e. what you can and can’t bring into France or back to the UK now that the UK has left the EU. These rules apply to anyone travelling between the two countries, regardless of your residency status.
You can see full details of the customs regulations for entering France here, but here are some of the most important things to note:
- Prohibited items include flowers, plants and plant products, firewood, animal products (so that means no bacon, cheese, sausages, etc.), but also all animal-derived products, including milk (so no suet puddings, custard, sweets containing gelatine, and even chocolate – as it contains milk)
- You may bring new items purchased or gifts received in the UK into France without filling out a customs declaration form if they do not exceed €430 (if arriving by plane or boat) or €300 (if arriving by car or train). Goods over this amount must be declared, and the relevant duties and taxes paid.
- You may bring up to 200 cigarettes, 4L of wine or 16L of beer into the country duty-free.
- You may bring prescription medications for personal use without a prescription, unless you are bringing more than three months’ supply – in which case, you must present a prescription.
You can see full details of the customs regulations for entering the UK here, but here are some of the most important things to note:
- You can bring most meat, fish, dairy and other animal products into the UK, providing they are of EU origin.
- You may bring new items purchased or gifts received in France into the UK without filling out a customs declaration form if they do not exceed your personal allowance. This depends on where in the UK you are going – see here for more details.
- You may bring alcohol back from France up to the tune of 42L of beer, 18L of wine (or 9L of sparkling or fortified wine), or 4L of spirits and other liquors.
One potential upside of Brexit for UK residents is that at purchase you make during your time in France may be eligible for a VAT refund.
What Else Has Changed for France Travel Since Brexit?
Travelling by Car
If you are travelling to France by car, many things will stay the same as prior to Brexit. However, UK-registered cars must now clearly display a UK sticker on their car (unless your UK registration plates are ‘Europlates’ and display the GB Euro-symbol) – this UK sticker replaces the old ‘GB’ sticker.
UK drivers are not required to have green card insurance; however, you should check that your car is insured for driving in Europe and consider taking out European breakdown assistance too. Read more in our guide to Driving to France from the UK after Brexit.
Travelling with Pets
UK pets are no longer able to travel to France using the EU passport system – however, they can still accompany their owners to France. All dogs and cats coming to France must be microchipped or tattooed, must be vaccinated for rabies, and must have an Animal Health Certificate issued by a UK vet. Read more in our guide to Pets and Pet Passports After Brexit.
Since the UK left the EU, UK operators have been able to reintroduce roaming charges for British customers travelling to France and the EU. It’s essential to check with your service provider whether or not you will be subject to roaming charges in the EU, and if so, you might want to consider taking out a specific travel package to keep costs to a minimum.
Travel to France Pre-Departure Checklist 2022/2023
Getting ready to travel to France? To summarise the above information, here’s a handy pre-departure checklist of all the documents you need to travel to France from the UK.
(Note: this checklist is for British citizens and UK residents travelling to France for less than 90 days)
- Proof of accommodation (see article above for possible options)
- Your travel insurance policy certificate
- Your GHIC
- Onward or return ticket
- Bank statement or other proof of sufficient funds
If travelling by car to France
- Your UK driving licence
- Your vehicle’s V5C registration certificate
- Up-to-date vehicle tax and MOT
- Proof of car insurance (valid in Europe)
- UK sticker clearly displayed on your vehicle
- Headlight converters/beam reflectors
- An in-car security kit including a minimum of 1 hi-vis/reflective jacket and a warning triangle.
Depending on when and where you are travelling in France:
If bringing a pet to France
- Your pet’s passport or identity document
- Proof of rabies vaccination
- Your pet’s Animal Health Certificate
Final to-do list
- Turn mobile roaming off on your phone (if required)
- Double-check you aren’t carrying any prohibited items such as plants or fresh meat, or dairy products.
- Be sure that any goods purchased in the UK that you are bringing into France do not exceed your personal allowance.
- Bring prescriptions for any medications if you are carrying more than a 3-month supply.
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