An old-style UK passport for travel before Brexit

With new Brexit rules and regulations from January 2021 and strict COVID-19 travel restrictions currently in place, what does this mean for British people looking to travel to the EU? Here’s everything you need to know about travel between the UK and France right now.

Can British people travel to France in January 2021?

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, travel to the EU is no longer possible for travellers from Britain, which is now outside of the EU zone. External borders to the EU bloc remain closed except for ‘essential travel’, which includes essential workers and returning EU citizens, but does not extend to visiting family. These restrictions will remain in place until further notice.

Tourism is off-limits too, but being as the current British government orders are to stay at home, now is clearly not the time to be planning a holiday.

Travel remains possible between France and other countries within the EU and Schengen zone, but local lockdowns and travel restrictions apply. If you must travel, keep an eye on the latest updates.

I’m British, but resident in France – can I return home to France?

Yes. All French citizens and permanent French residents can still return to France from the UK, even while COVID restrictions are in place. However, British expats will be required to show the following on arrival and quarantine for 7 days, after which a second COVID-19 test will be required:

  1. A negative Covid-19 test
  2. An International Travel Certificate or Attestation de déplacement international
  3. A sworn declaration stating that you have been symptom free for 14 days prior to travel

French or UK residents can still travel from France to the UK, but from 18th January, a negative COVID test is also required.

I own a second home in France. Can I travel between France and the UK?

Second-home owners are not classed as essential travellers under the COVID restrictions and cannot travel to France until further notice. It’s also important to note that this applies to all UK permanent residents, even those holding a French or EU passport.

What are the rules for Brits travelling to France after Brexit?

As and when COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted, British nationals will once again be able to travel to and from France. However, with the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement in effect from 1st January 2021, there are a few changes to consider.

You won’t need to apply for a visa to travel to the EU, but you will only be able to stay for up to 90 days within any 180 day period. Second-home owners or travellers wanting to stay longer will need to apply for a long-stay visa – a visa de long séjour temporaire visiteur.

The good news is that British passport holders will not need to change their passport unless it is more than 10 years old. However, you will need a passport with an expiry date greater than six months to travel.

On the downside, you won’t be able to use those handy EU fast-track lanes at passport control anymore!

How will Brexit affect travel in France?

You’ve probably read the reports of a fellow Brit having his ham sandwich snatched by border patrol in the Netherlands, or heard rumours that post-Brexit booze runs to France are being banned. So, what’s the truth about post-Brexit travel rules for British travellers?

Along with the new travel guidelines laid out above, there are a few other things that will change for Brits travelling to the EU. Yes, there will now be restrictions on what you can take in and out of France. That means strict limits on alcohol and tobacco being brought back from France, and restrictions on food items brought into the EU (including meat and animal products). So no more booze cruises to Calais, and you won’t be able to bring British favourites like bacon, suet puddings, and custard back to France with you either.

Other changes include new rules regarding pet passports and travel with pets after Brexit, a new global health insurance card for UK residents, and a few differences for driving in France after Brexit.

Don’t forget to check your mobile phone contract before you set off, too – free roaming in EU zones is no longer a guarantee.

January 2021 Travel News Summary:

  • Essential travel only until further notice due to COVID-19 rules
  • From now on, UK residents can travel to France for up to 90 days; longer stays require a visa

Keep checking this page for the latest news on travel in France after Brexit or head to our Brexit zone to learn more about living, travelling, and buying property in France from now on.

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