France travel advice from UK: Do I need a QR code to go to bars, do I need a vaccine passport and what Covid tests do I need to take?

With France now on the Amber List for travel, holidays across the channel have once again opened up, but there are a number of important provisos.

Travel to France from Scotland has opened up in recent weeks after the country was placed on the UK’s Amber List, meaning those who have been vaccinated for Covid not longer need to self isolate on return.

But there are still a long list of rules and regulations travellers need to follow before, after, and during their visit – including restrictions on entering bars and restaurants in France that are particularly problematic for Scots.

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Here’s everything you need to know before booking your trip.

Can I visit France if I haven’t been vaccinated?

The restrictions on travel for those not vaccinated make it impractical for the majority of Scots to visit France without having had their jabs.

The UK is on France’s Orange List for travel, meaning that if you have not been double-vaccinated you may only enter if you have “pressing grounds for travel”, listed here.

Even if you do qualify, each traveller aged 12 and over must have a negative PCR test or a negative antigenic test taken less than 24 hours before boarding your transport to France.

It's now possible to travel to France, but continuing Covid restrictions on both sides of the Channel means it's still more complicated than it was pre-pandemic.It's now possible to travel to France, but continuing Covid restrictions on both sides of the Channel means it's still more complicated than it was pre-pandemic.
It's now possible to travel to France, but continuing Covid restrictions on both sides of the Channel means it's still more complicated than it was pre-pandemic.

If you have previously contracted Covid-19, instead of a negative test result you may present a certificate of recovery dated more than 11 days and less than 6 months prior to the date of arrival.

You must also pledge to self-isolate for seven days on arrival.

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What if I have been vaccinated?

If you have received your second dose of vaccine at least seven days before departure, you are able to travel to France without restriction.

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Unvaccinated children under the age of 12 may travel with you without having a test, but unvaccinated children between the ages of 12 and 16 need to provide proof of a negative test taken less than 72 hours before travelling.

To enter France you will need to show your proof of vaccination, available from NHS Scotland by filling in a form here.

You also need to download a sworn statement from France’s Interior Ministry website stating that you have no symptoms of Covid infection; and that, to your knowledge, you have not been in contact with a confirmed case of Covid in the 14 days prior to your journey.

What is the Covid Health Pass and how do I get one?

People in France, including visitors, now need to show a Covid Health Pass to visit cafes, bars, restaurants, attractions or to travel on an intercity train.

This pass has a QR code that can be scanned on entry to prove the person has been vaccinated, has recovered from the virus within the last six months, or has tested negative in the past 48 hours with either a PCR or antigen test.

Scotland’s proof of vaccination documents now have a QR code and so can be scanned into the French ‘Pass Sanitaire’ mobile phone app.

At first the Scottish vaccination passport was not recognised by the app, but this issue has now been rectified and producing the QR code will successfully gain entry into the restricted areas.

Returning to Scotland

France is on the UK’s Amber List for travel restrictions, meaning that you no longer need to self-isolate if you have been fully vaccinated.

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While the UK Government has unveiled plans to scrap testing for travellers, the Scottish Government has advised that it will not be following suit.

So, before leaving for France you must book a £68 Covid PCR test to be taken within two days of arriving back to Scotland. It can be booked here, or you can choose one of the many private suppliers available online.

A couple of days before you plan to travel back to Scotland you should also download and complete a Passenger Locator Form which you may be asked to produce upon arrival.

You also need to get a negative Covid test less than 72 hours before you return, otherwise you will not be allowed to board your plane, train or ferry. You may also be asked to provide proof of a negative test when you arrive in Scotland.

The test results must be in English, Spanish or French and include your name, date of birth or age, the negative result of the test, the date the test sample was collected, the name of the company or business who did the test and their contact details, and the name of your test device.

Acceptable tests include PCR tests LAMP tests, and lateral flow/antigen tests above a certain sensitivity.

These are widely available to tourists in France, and this map shows pharmacies that currently offer the antigen tests.

You can also check where to get a PCR test by French Department here.

Will France remain on the Amber List?

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There is no way of knowing whether France will remain on the Amber List and other countries have moved to the UK’s Red List with little warning.

Currently France is experiencing its fourth wave of the Covid pandemic but numbers have stabilised and are not expected to continue to rise, although this could change.

If France is moved to the Red List when you are visiting you may have to choose between attempting to get back to Scotland before any cut-off time or be forced to pay for a quarantine hotel on returning from your holiday at a cost of around £2,285 per person for 10 days.

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