First of all I must apologise for the disgraceful state of my car in this photo. I'll give it a wash this weekend, I promise :).
Brexit and Covid have combined to bring disruption and change to all our lives - and especially those of us who travel across international borders. The dual effect has also caused huge amounts of confusion. So I thought a short summary of the current situation would be helpful, with a few personal perspectives as someone who does the UK-France journey regularly.
First of all, what about Covid restrictions? Rules and restrictions are being scrapped regularly. Here's my understanding of the current situation:
- There are no testing or isolation requirements when you return to the UK and there's no longer any need to complete an online Passenger Locator Form prior to travelling back
- The French government is no longer requiring the passe vaccinale, formerly known as passe sanitaire, to enter cafés, restaurants, bars, places of entertainment and holiday venues such as Le Pas Opton. Hoorah!
- To travel to France you must be fully vaccinated and able to prove it using the NHS app. The French Embassy website says this applies to travellers aged 18 and over, with 12-17s needing to either be vaccinated or present a suitable PCR/antigen test, and under-twelves "exempt from all Covid travel restrictions in all cases". If you're not vaccinated, you can still travel with an acceptable recent PCR test result - check online for details.
- There's no longer any requirement for a "sworn statement" to be shown on arrival in France.
- Masks are no longer required on public transport and in other public places - they are however recommended.
The most disruptive consequences of Brexit affect freight and employment but not tourist travel. Here are some points to be aware of:
- The UK Government now requires you to display a "UK" sticker on your car. If anyone can find a use for a thousand shiny GB stickers with Spring Harvest Holidays logo, please let me know!
- Your UK passport must be less than ten years old and valid for at least three months after you plan to return. To be safe, make that six months as some carriers and borders are getting fussy according to media reports. You don't need any kind of visa. Your passport will be stamped on entry and exit: we're only allowed 90 days in any 180 day period in the EU/Schengen area but that's plenty for holidays!
- You're fine with a UK driving license. Likewise your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) still entitles you to limited free healthcare - but when you renew it, you'll be given a GHIC (Global instead of European but with all the same benefits).
- There are rules on what you can import and export (no dairy products for example) and there are now specific restrictions on alcohol: basically 18 litres (24 bottles) of wine, 42 litres of beer and also some spirits etc. Details on gov.uk here.
We're almost back to normal, what ever that is. As we all know, the situation changes regularly. So keep checking, keep praying! Right now things are moving rapidly in a positive direction for those of us who love to travel and holiday at LPO.