Travel to France: Brexit and Covid
14th January 2021
14th January 2021
Learn about travel to France: Brexit and Covid. Are you allowed to go? Do you need a green card? Will your sandwiches be confiscated?
The Brexit transition period ended on 31st December 2020, and there is now a new, much less favourable regime. This is not because foreign governments have imposed this on us: our own Conservative Party government chose to make our travel more difficult and expensive - for no good reason and in return for no benefits.
The UK government has a page titled Visit Europe from 1st January 2021 which is the source of much the information presented here.
Your passport must be less than 10 years old and have at least 6 months left on it. If you don't meet these conditions, you have to renew your passport before travelling.
At border control, you may have to show you have a return or onward ticket. If you were in the habit of booking a one-way ticket to France and deciding about your return at a later date, you can no longer do this.
You may also be asked to show you have enough money for your stay - so it would be a good idea to take bank statements with you, or have access to them. Brilliant, isn't it - did you see that on the side of a red bus?
The French government page on Brexit says enough money means €120 per day, €65 per day if you have a hotel booking, or €32.50 per day with proof of private accommodation.
You don't need a visa for travel to France as a tourist, for a stay of 90 days in any 180 day period.
You may need a visa:
Apparently this is what we voted for, except that it was never mentioned by the frauds in Vote Leave. Brexiter David Davis told us that we'd keep the exact same benefits as when we were in the EU.
Losing our rights and benefits also did not feature in the Conservatives' 2019 General Election campaign; you'd think this was important information that an honest party would state when asking people to make an important decision.
You are banned from taking meat, milk or dairy products into France - see the European Commission website. That means your cheese and ham sandwiches can be confiscated at the border, as happened to truck drivers entering the Netherlands.
If you think this is ridiculous, I agree with you. I say a big and very sarcastic 'thank you' to the Conservative Party. The UK government is supposed to act in the interests of the British people, but the Conservatives have totally forgotten that.
There are some exceptions to the ban, for example for up to 2kg of powdered infant milk.
I think you're not allowed to bring many plants and plant products into the EU. My doubt stems from the fact that the page I've linked to is headed 'Trade in plants & plant products from non-EU countries' - so I don't know if it applies to, say, an apple that's part of a picnic. That's not trade. But a link to the 'Trade in plants...' information appears on the government's Visit Europe page, which suggests that the ban does apply.
From a brief look at the rules, it seems that most vegetables are banned (unless you have a 'phytosanitary certificate' for them). Outlawed vegetables include onions leeks, carrots, turnips and radishes; and cabbages, cauliflower, lettuce and kale if planted in soil. Cut flowers are also a no-no.
On the other hand, you don't need a phytosanitary certificate to take five fruits into France: banana, coconut, durian, dates and pineapple.
If you're going to take a packed lunch with you on a trip to France, I believe you would be safe with jam sandwiches and bananas.
If you're driving, you have to get a green card from your insurer. The government 'Vehicle insurance - Driving abroad' page says that all UK vehicle insurance provides at least the minimum third party cover for EU countries, but you have to obtain and carry proof via a green card.
The government's page tells you to allow 6 weeks for your insurer to post a green card!
As before Brexit, you need a GB sticker. See the rules on GB stickers here.
You don't need an International Driving Permit as long as you have a photocard driving licence issued in the UK (not, for example, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man).
If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued on or before 31st December 2020, it will still work in France in the same way it did before Brexit.
From 1st January 2021, you can't get a new EHIC unless you're a student studying in the EU, or a pensioner living in the EU.
The EHIC has been replaced by a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This stinks of Brexit propaganda: there is no change to the substance, but in a petty and misleading way, the Conservative Party government has removed the word 'European' and replaced it with 'Global'.
I haven't studied all the details, but the GHIC page seems to say that the card does the same job as an EHIC - i.e cover you for 'necessary healthcare' when visiting EU countries. As far as I can tell, it does not cover you for necessary healthcare in non-EU countries.
The Conservative Party has created extra bureaucracy, delays and costs for pet owners who want to visit France with their dog, cat or ferret. You can no longer use a pet passport.
Roaming at no extra cost was a benefit for citizens of EU countries. We have lost that benefit.
Now it will be up to your mobile network, and the UK government suggests checking with them before you travel - as if the Conservative Party hadn't generated enough other pointless and time-consuming extra admin for us already.
Warning: the Conservative Party has stripped us of our rights and made travel to France much harder, for no good reason. Please do not vote for the Conservative Party; they are actively working against our interests.
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At the time of writing, the whole of England is in Tier 4. The Covid rules for England are in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020.
The Regulations set out the reasonable excuses for leaving home, in Schedule 3A. Reasonable excuses include moving home, work and education.
The Guidance says that you can travel internationally if you need to on the basis of the same 'excuses':
You can only travel internationally...where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting.
National Lockdown: Stay at Home Guidance, International Travel
According to the government's Foreign Travel Advice France page, there are restrictions announced by the French government on 20th December 2020.
Only certain British people can travel, including those who are habitually resident in France, or who must travel for certain essential reasons.
All travellers need to present a negative PCR Covid-19 test carried out less than 72h before departure. They must complete a sworn statement, declaring that they are not suffering from Covid symptoms.
You have to self-isolate for 7 days on arrival, before taking another PCR test.
From 16th January 2021, there is a 6pm to 6am curfew in France. If your journey to your destination in France means you're outside in the evening or at night, I believe you should complete a statement to justify why you're breaking the curfew - see Attestation de déplacement 'couvre-feu'.
You have to fill in a passenger locator form and submit it in the 48h before you return to the UK.
From Monday 18th January 2021, you have to get a negative Covid-19 test in the 72h before returning to the UK. It should be submitted to your ferry company, airline or train company. This is in addition to the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days after you get back.
A quick look at Covid tests shows that UK prices are around £70-120 per test. A worldwide health crisis is yet another opportunity for big businesses to cash in at the expense of ordinary people.