France relaxes the rules for travellers arriving from the UK, and the Health Pass is about to become a Vaccine Pass. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. France Lifts Restrictions for UK Travellers
There’s good news for UK travellers and second-home owners this week, as France finally lifts its strict travel restrictions. As of last Friday (January 14th), vaccinated travellers visiting France from the UK no longer need an essential reason for travel. All travellers over the age of 12 will still need to present a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 24 hours before departure, but there is no longer a need to isolate upon arrival in France or submit to further tests.
However, unvaccinated travellers can still only travel to France if they have an essential reason for travel. This also applies to unvaccinated French citizens and residents wishing to travel to the UK from France.
For the full rules, see our article on travel between France and the UK.
2. France’s Vaccine Pass Approved
We mentioned in last week’s News Digest that the French government was proposing to transform the current Health Pass (Pass Sanitaire) into a Vaccine Pass (Pass Vaccinal). This bill has now been approved by both parliament and the senate, and will pass into law in the coming weeks. It’s not yet sure the exact date that the change will come into action, but it’s possible that it will be as soon as this Friday (January 21st).
So, what does this mean? The Vaccine Pass will work in the exact same way as the Health Pass, which is required to access to a range of leisure and cultural venues across the country for anyone over the age of 12. However, there will be one key difference: while the Health Pass could previously be activated for 24 hours using a negative Covid-19 test, the Vaccine Pass will no longer have this option. The unvaccinated will therefore be effectively banned from restaurants, bars, and other venues across France.
As with the Health Pass, the Vaccine Pass will be also be required by all travellers visiting France, and this includes children. However, one important change is that the Vaccine Pass will only be required by children from 16 years onwards—children between 12 and 15 will still need a Health Pass, but this may still be accessed via a negative test result for children who have not yet been fully vaccinated.
3. Stricter Mortgage Laws from 2022
Finally, a reminder for French property buyers that, as of January 1st, 2022, stricter mortgage lending criteria have passed into law. Borrowers will now only be able to take out a mortgage with repayments equal to or less than 35 % of their total household income – and for foreign buyers, remember that this will concern your global income, as well as taking into account any additional mortgages. Maximum mortgage terms will also be limited to 25 years.
In addition to this, foreign buyers face a tightening of lending criteria and higher minimum loan amounts due to the pandemic and the current French property market. Read our full article French Mortgages: Stricter Lending Criteria From 2022 for more details.
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