FCDO advice for France, Spain, Italy & Portugal as Covid surges across Europe

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The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has issued updated advice for Britons hoping to travel to parts of Europe as COVID-19 surges across the continent once more. Britons are advised against “all but essential” travel to many destinations as a result.

However, for Britons who need to travel for essential purposes, there may be some difficulties when jetting off to certain destinations.


Following the discovery of a new strain of COVID-19 in the UK, France temporarily stopped all travel with the UK.

However, this has since been lifted in favour of new restrictions.

According to the FCDO: “France restricted travel from the UK from 24:00 (CET) on 20 December.

“This travel restriction applies to air, car, ferry and train passengers.

“From 24:00 (CET) on December 22, until at least January 6 (subject to a possible review), only the following categories of people will be authorised to travel to France from the UK: French nationals and nationals of the European Area, and their spouses and children; British and/or third-country nationals who are either permanently resident in France, the European Union or the European Area; or British nationals moving to France to settle, on or before 31 December 2020; British or third-country nationals travelling for certain exceptional reasons.”

All arrivals from the UK must now present a negative COVID-19 test taken less than 72 hours before departure.

Britons due to travel to France for reasons not exempt to the rules are advised to contact their travel operator for further updates.

Travellers returning from France to the UK will require a period of self-isolation.

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Spain has announced passenger travel from the UK to Spain will be restricted from December 22, 2020, until January 5, 2021.

Exceptions to the rule will include Spanish nationals and those who are legal residents in Spain.

This includes flights from the UK to the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.

“If you are resident in Spain, you should carry your residence document (the green paper EU residence certificate or the new TIE), as well as your valid passport when you travel,” explains the FCDO.

“If you have applied but not yet received your document, carry proof you have started the registration process.

“Padron certificates, utility bills and property deeds will not be accepted by Spanish authorities as proof of residency.”

All passengers travelling to Spain from “risk” airports – including the UK- will be required to present a negative PCR, TNA or LAMP test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival.”

Those due to travel to Spain should contact their travel operator for further updates.

Those returning to the UK from Italy will face a mandatory quarantine period.

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Italy has temporarily halted travel with the UK following the discovery of the new strain.

On December 23, the Italian government announced flights between the UK and Italy could resume after a temporary pause.

“With immediate effect and until January 15, entry into Italy from the UK is only permitted for those with official residency in Italy or those with absolute necessity, which must be declared in writing,” explains the FCDO.

Those wishing to fly prior to January 6 must present the airline with a negative COVID-19 rapid antigenic molecular swab test taken no more than 72 hours before travel.

Arrivals must additionally take a COVID-19 rapid antigenic or molecular swab test once they land in Italy – arrivals by air from the UK will take this test at the airport.

“Whatever the result of the two swab tests, those arriving in Italy from the UK must also report to their local health authorities on arrival and must quarantine for 14 days,” warns the FCDO.

Those returning to the UK from Italy will face a mandatory period of self-isolation.


On Sunday December 20, 2020, the Portuguese government placed restrictions on all passenger travel into Portugal from the UK, with the exception of Portuguese citizens and those legally resident in Portugal.

This means travel for tourism will no longer be allowed.

“On arrival in Portugal including Madeira, Porto Santo and the Azores, you will be required to provide a certificate confirming a negative test result for SARS/COVID-19 taken in the previous 72 hours,” explains the FCDO.

“Airlines are likely to deny boarding if you cannot provide this at check-in. “You should check with your airline in advance of travelling.”

The FCDO continues: “If you do travel without a test certificate, you will be tested by the Portuguese National Health Service at the airport. You will need to pay for this test yourself.

“For mainland Portugal, you must remain in isolation at your home or accommodation until the test result is confirmed. If you test positive on arrival, you will have to remain in self-isolation until the health authorities authorise otherwise. This may involve further testing.

“In Madeira, you will additionally be required to take a second PCR test 5 – 7 days after the initial test.

“From your arrival in Madeira, until you receive the results of the second test, you must remain in self-isolation either at your home or in government-provided accommodation.”

Britons returning from mainland Portugal will need to isolate upon there return.

However, those returning from the autonomous regions of Madeira and Azores will not face quarantine.

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