With air travel complications and international border closures, many Britons have found themselves unable to simply hop on a plane and fly to Spain in recent months. This has led some plucky Brits to question whether there is another way: is it possible to drive from the UK to Spain via France?
And what kind of documentation and testing would you need to make this dream a reality? Here’s everything you need to know:
It is Possible to Drive Between the UK and Spain
The first thing you need to know is that it is possible to drive between the UK and Spain right now, even in light of the current coronavirus restrictions. The official end of the Spanish state of alarm on 9th May has made the journey much easier, but you will still be subjected to a whole host of testing, quarantine, form-filling and bureaucracy cracy. It is important to consider all of these factors before deciding whether driving between the two countries is right for you, because with testing, quarantine and form-filling, you will also be subjected to considerable additional expense.
When you drive between the UK and Spain (in either direction) you will be subjected to three different sets of rules and restrictions: those of Spain, France and the UK. Here is a closer look at the current requirements for each country, and what you need to do in order to adhere to them:
Driving From Spain to the UK
Leaving Spain: If you’re hoping to drive from Spain to the UK then the good news is that since the national State of Alarm was eased on the 9th May, driving across the country is much easier with fewer regional border checks in place. It is worth planning your route carefully, as some municipalities do have their borders closed as a result of high case numbers, and there are still restrictions and curfews in place in some regions, so you might also want to consider this when planning your route (and stopping for dinner and comfort breaks), but on the most part it should be very easy and straightforward to drive through Spain and reach the French border.
Entering France: Entering France will also be relatively easy, provided you have the right tests and paperwork. From 3rd May visitors from other EU countries have been permitted to enter France for any reason, including to visit family or for tourism purposes. However, you will need to present a negative PCR covid test (taken within 72 hours before you enter France) and self-certify that you don’t have any covid symptoms in a signed affidavit. This applies no matter what mode of transport you use to enter France, and also applies to all individuals over 11 years of age.
According to the French embassy in Spain: “Entry into the metropolitan territory from a country in the European area is subject to the presentation, by travellers over eleven years of age, of a negative result of a PCR test, carried out within 72 hours prior to departure. This obligation applies to all modes of travel (arrival by road, rail, air or sea)”.
The certificate that you need to complete to enter the country can be downloaded from the website of the French Ministry. The supporting documents must be presented to the control authorities at the border. If you don’t have this certificate and proof of your negative PCR test then you won’t be permitted to enter France.
Once you’re in France you need to know that there is a 9pm curfew in the country, meaning that you can’t drive after this time: you will need to find something to stay for the night before 9pm each day. This curfew will be in place until 9th June, when it will be extended ‘til 11pm. Face masks are also compulsory in Spain in both indoor public spaces and most outdoor public spaces too: you’ll face a fine of €135 if you’re not wearing a mask when you should be, so if in doubt put a mask on!
Entering the UK: This is the final and arguably the most difficult stage of your journey. EU tourists are allowed to enter the UK as of the 17th May, but almost all European countries (with the exception of Portugal) are currently on the nations ‘amber list’. This includes France, which would be considered your entry country. Arriving in the UK from an amber country means that you have to follow the amber list rules. This includes:
- take a COVID-19 test before you can enter the country
- book and pay for day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 travel tests– to be taken after arrival in England. This applies to all arrivals over the age of four.
- complete a passenger locator form
- Quarantine in you home (or the place you are staying) for 10 day.
These rules will apply until France makes its way onto the UK’s green list, at which point the requirement to quarantine will no longer apply, and you will only need to take a single PCR test on day 2 of your time in the country. You will still have to complete the passenger locator form and take a lateral flow test before you can enter the country.
Driving From the UK to Spain
The process of driving from the UK to Spain is identical to that of driving from Spain to the UK, with the same border crossing rules, however you do need to be aware that the UK are still advising against travel to any amber or red list countries, which means that entering both France and Spain is not currently advised. Whilst this isn’t a legal travel ban, and therefore you could still choose to leave the UK if you wish, this might impact on the validity of your travel insurance. You should check this before you travel.
When you enter France from the UK, you will have to sign the same ‘sworn statement’ declaring that you haven’t been in contact with anyone suffering from COVID, or have any symptoms. You will also have to present a negative PCR test result that was carried out in the UK in the 72 hours before your arrival in France.
British tourists are now legally able to enter Spain without having to demonstrate a negative PCR test (this rule was changed from 24th May) but if you choose to drive via France, rather than fly to the country directly, then “all overland travelers (excluding children under the age of 6 years old) who wish to enter Spain by road from France, are required to present a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to entry”. This applies to everyone, even if you have been vaccinated already, which could well make you reconsider the possibility of flying instead.
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