Holidays: FCDO updates for France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal as lockdown eases

Naga Munchetty grills Grant Shapps on foreign holiday rules

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Holidays abroad are set to go ahead from May 17 – only five short weeks away. However, it’s key to remember the rules and travel restrictions in foreign countries are different to the UK. These are the latest Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice updates for popular holiday destinations France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.


A month ago France ruled “arrivals no longer need to justify an essential reason to enter France.”

However, travel restrictions do remain in place and Covid tests and quarantine are still needed.

“All travellers from the UK, including children aged 11 and above, will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result (PCR only), carried out less than 72 hours before departure,” detailed the FCDO.

“Arrivals will also be required to self-isolate for seven days upon arrival, before taking another PCR test.”

“Arrivals from the UK will need to complete a ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying they are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight.

“Arrivals from the UK who have visited non-European countries within the last 14 days remain subject to the requirement to evidence a compelling reason.”

Travellers should be aware “the health situation in France remains severe.” As the FCDO explains: “A national curfew is in place from 7pm to 6am, during which an attestation (self-certified document) is required to leave home.”

Non-essential shops are closed and to other regions is banned, apart from in exceptional or professional circumstances.


Spain is now allowing UK travellers into the country but you must prove why your journey is essential.

All British arrivals must test negative for Covid 72 hours prior to arrival.

Permitted circumstances include:

  • Habitual residents of the European Union, Schengen States, Andorra, Monaco, The Vatican (Holy See) or San Marino; who are travelling to their country of residence and can duly accredit their residence status with documentary evidence. For further information on documents accepted as proof of residence in Spain, see Additional requirements for UK nationals resident in Spain.
  • Holders of a long-stay visa issued by a Member State or Schengen Associated State, who are travelling onto said country.
  • Health professionals, including health researchers, and elderly care professionals who are going to or returning from essential work.
  • Transport personnel, seafarers and aeronautical personnel.
  • Diplomatic, consular, international organizations, military, civil protection and members of humanitarian organizations.
  • Students enrolled in courses starting after 1 January 2021 who carry out their studies in an EU Member or Schengen state and who have the corresponding permit or visa and medical insurance, provided that they are travelling to the country where they are studying, and that entry occurs during the academic year or 15 days previous. Students who started an on-site or in-person course in Spain prior to 1 January 2021 will not require a permit or visa to enter, but should be prepared to provide evidence of this, such as a residence document or proof of enrolment and accommodation (dated prior to 1 January 2021).
  • Highly skilled essential workers whose work cannot be postponed or carried out remotely, including participants in high-level sports events due to take place in Spain.
  • People travelling for imperative family reasons who can demonstrate an essential need to travel.


UK arrivals are permitted to enter Italy until April 30 under current rules.

“If you wish to fly, you must present the airline with a negative COVID-19 rapid antigenic or molecular swab test taken no more than 48 hours before entry into Italy,” said the FCDO.

“Irrespective of your means of travel, upon arrival in Italy from the UK you must also report to the local health authorities and self-isolate for five days.

“You must also take a molecular or antigenic test at the end of the five day self-isolation period.

“You will need to download and complete a self-declaration from the Ministry of Interior before you travel.”


Britons are permitted to enter Greece but Covid measures are in place.

“If you travel to Greece, you will need to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before travel,” stated the FCDO.

“All arrivals into Greece need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, undertaken within the 72 hour period before your time of arrival into Greece.

“Anyone entering Greece from the UK will also be asked to undergo a rapid test for COVID-19 on arrival.

“Arrivals from the UK are currently required to self-isolate for seven days in the event of a negative test result.

“In the event of a positive test result, travellers will have to isolate for at least 14 days. In either case, travellers will need to undertake a further PCR test at the end of their period of self-isolation.”


Travel to Portugal is extremely limited at the moment.

Only the following can enter: EU/EEA nationals and their family members; UK and other non-EU/EEA nationals who are officially resident in Portugal or in another EU member state; and UK and other non-EU/EEA nationals who are travelling for essential purposes.

“Flights between the UK and mainland Portugal are currently suspended,” explained the FCDO.

Those who do travel “will be required to show a negative RT-PCR test result for SARS/COVID-19 taken within 72 hours of departure (not required for children aged two or under).”

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