Although the British government has imposed quarantine rules on people travelling from France to the UK, there is, as yet, no quarantine in France for travellers from the UK. You can still travel freely once you arrive there.
Rules for those travelling from France to the UK
On 13 August, the British government brought in new quarantine rules for visitors returning from France. Anyone returning to Britain from France must now complete a mandatory two weeks of self isolation. You must fill in a passenger locator form giving your address, and there is the risk of a hefty fine if found to be flouting the rules.
For help from our trusted legal partner on any aspect of your purchase or move to France, including residency, click here for a non-obligation introduction.
Why the quarantine?
With the gradual easing of lockdown and after the tourist season in France, the number of new cases has clearly risen. France recorded 259 COVID cases per 100,000 people in the past 7 days, as of October 1. It’s this rate that the UK government uses for its decision on prohibiting non-essential travel and quarantine on return. If any country records over 20 cases per 10,000 people in the past 7 days, the government (in theory) impose quarantine restrictions.
In a number of areas, the French Government have brought in extra measures as a consequence.
Rules for those travelling from the UK to France
At the moment there is no quarantine in France for visitors arriving from UK. Although the French government has said it will reciprocate, they have still not done so.
What they have said is that “travellers arriving in France by air or ferry from the UK will need to complete a sworn statement (declaration sur l’honneur)”. This self certifies that they are not suffering from symptoms associated with COVID-19 and have not been in contact with confirmed cases during the preceding fortnight. Forms are available on the French Embassy in London website.
Know how your purchase could be impacted by a no-deal Brexit with our guide, How to Live in France After Brexit.
Will France go further in response to the UK’s restrictions? As reported to by Reuters, France’s Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said that the French felt duty bound to “have a measure called reciprocity so that our British friends do not close the border in one single way.” He said: “For travellers returning from the United Kingdom, there will probably be restrictive measures decided in the next few days by the Prime Minister and by the Defence Council.”
In the past, France’s quarantine rules were voluntary.
Therefore, in short, apart from being sensible, observing social-distancing rules and obligatory mask wearing in France, which is dependent on location, the country is still welcoming visitors from the UK.
Although some travel insurance may be nullified by the UK’s quarantine rules, bear in mind that your previous EU rights continue until 31 December, and that includes your right to free emergency healthcare in France with your EHIC.
What is life like in France currently?
There is a heightened level of alert in some departments of France now, since cases have risen. The government has brought in more restrictions in some areas also, such as the big cities.
Just like in the UK, there is hand sanitiser at the door and masks are required in shops and on public transport. Most people are happy to follow the rules and even in outdoor markets people are wearing masks and social distancing.
In bigger towns there have been more issues, causing the authorities to insist on mask wearing in the streets. Testing has begun in earnest – possibly explaining why confirmed cases have risen so sharply – although you won’t normally have to go through the process of leaving your details for “track and trace” as you do in British pubs.
What does this mean for buying property?
Estate agents have been extremely busy. Many, indeed, cancelled their usual august holidays to cope with the demand, especially from British buyers.
Those buyers who spent their lockdown planning to buy – and lining up properties to view – have been rewarded with sellers accepting offers (although there is certainly not a “fire sale” of property, just sensible negotiation).
Why not spread the cost of a French holiday home and buy with friends or family? Read our guide, Buying with Family.
Agents are conducting physical viewings whilst respecting rules – mask wearing, social distancing and regular cleaning included.
The biggest consequence is that, following your visit to France, you now have to quarantine on your return to the UK. For those keen to find a property and gain residency in France before the Brexit door closes, it may be a relatively small price to pay.