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TRAVELLING TO FRANCE

UK changes travel rules again to impose quarantine on European arrivals who had mixed vaccine doses

The UK government has changed its travel rules to demand that fully vaccinated arrivals in England must quarantine if they had two different vaccine doses - a practice common across Europe and taken up by thousands including German chancellor Angela Merkel.

UK changes travel rules again to impose quarantine on European arrivals who had mixed vaccine doses
Angela Merkel is not fully vaccinated, according to British rules. Photo: Christian Mang/AFP

The UK government’s travel rules say that arrivals from amber list countries (which includes the whole of Europe after France was reclassified from ‘amber plus’) no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.

However an addition to the rules on August 12th shattered dreams of quarantine free travel for many, by adding an amendment stating that to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ by UK rules, travellers must have had two vaccines of the same brand.

In several European countries mixing of vaccines has been quite widespread, particularly for those who had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine before guidelines on its use in individual countries changed.

Many countries (including the UK) now advise not using AstraZeneca for younger people after concerns over the risk of rare blood clots.

Younger people who already had AstraZeneca for their first dose were advised by many countries’ health regulators to take Pfizer or Moderna for their second dose.

This covers tens of thousands of people including German chancellor Angela Merkel and French health minister Olivier Véran.

When we asked the British Department for Health and Social Care, we were told that people vaccinated with a mixed dose in the UK count as fully vaccinated, but those vaccinated in this way in other countries do not – however the rules as listed on the uk.gov website make no mention of an exception for people vaccinated in the UK.

A DHSC spokesman said: “People who have received two different doses of a vaccine under the UK government vaccination programme can still be certified as fully vaccinated through the COVID pass. We are working as quickly as possible to determine which other countries’ vaccines and certification solutions we would be confident to recognise.”

French Health Minister Olivier Véran was vaccinated with a first dose of AstraZeneca and a second of Moderna. Photo by Thomas SAMSON / POOL / AFP

There is no credible medical evidence that individuals who had two different brands of Covid vaccine are less protected against the virus, in fact some studies have suggested better protection from mixing and matching doses.

The ‘clarification’ of vaccine rules comes after a similar update saying that people who had received only a single dose of the vaccine after recovering from Covid – which is the standard practice in France – are also not considered fully vaccinated in the UK.

These rules at present affect only arrivals in England, the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have so far not indicated a change to their definitions.

Arrivals into the UK not considered fully vaccinated must quarantine for 10 days (which can be done at a location of your choice) and pay for travel tests on Day 2 and Day 8 after arrival.

Fully vaccinated arrivals do not need to quarantine, but must still pay for the Day 2 test.

READ ALSO How to book that Day 2 test if you are travelling to the UK

All arrivals need to fill in a passenger locator form, and the form cannot be completed without a booking reference for tests, so the tests need to be booked and paid for before departure.

Under the UK rules, arrivals are considered fully vaccinated if;

  • They have been vaccinated with vaccines approved by the UK regulator – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (also known as Janssen)
  • They have been vaccinated with two doses of the same vaccine
  • They are 14 days after the final dose

Member comments

  1. Does this have to get any more stupid? Scientific evidence suggests that “mix and match” is the best option and now we have, once more, policies that seem to have been dreamed up by the self-serving UK Govt for the sake of some pathetic, populist, political expediency that make no common sense whatsoever. Well, even more reason to ensure the UK does not enjoy my custom – I give up.

    1. Agreed. I don’t know what “Scientists” they are taking advice from, but I put money on the AstraZeneca lot, who are miffed because most people in Europe don’t want it! ( I had no choice but AstraZeneca for my first, but grabbed the chance for Moderna for my second!)

      1. I think it’s about time the EU turned its back on “Little Trump” (he thinks he’s Churchill-esque, what a deluded Eton ass!) and his cronies. He will only be taking “Scientific” advice if it fits his warped views – the US have just voted out that kind of egotist and we should treat Boris and his crew with the same skepticism as we did that Buffoon.

    2. Yup, I give up as well. I’m just sick to the teeth of the bumbling blonde buffoon and his incompressible, incompetent crew of cronies. I never thought the day would come when I was so disgusted with the behaviour of my home country that I would not want to even visit. I’m also astounded by the acceptance of all this by the Brits and as the months go by this whole thing is starting to look more and more like the Government in V for Vendetta!

  2. “The scientific evidence unequivocally shows that boosting with a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after a single immunisation with the AstraZeneca vaccine induces about 10 times stronger neutralising antibodies than two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and is associated with only small increases in transient mild-to-moderate side effects. The European Medicines Agency has said of this heterologous vaccination approach: “There are good scientific grounds to expect this strategy to be safe and effective when applied to vaccination against Covid-19.”
    Kingston Mills, professor of experimental immunology and academic director of the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute at Trinity College Dublin

    1. Thanks for the science!
      AZ followed by Moderna here with a sore arm and mild headaches after the Moderna lasting about 4 days – a small price to pay for the protection!
      It still saddens me the level of mistrust there is for vaccination in Germany: I know personally 4 elderly (70+), educated, middle-class, otherwise-healthy people who refuse to be jabbed. I wonder how many of them will be alive in 12 months time?

    2. The UK rules relate to the first 2 jabs , not the booster jab ( although AZ say no booster jab is needed if both initial jabs were AZ ).

  3. So, we are heading to Rome from San Fransisco on British Air. We have a 1 hour & 20 minute layover in Terminal 5 at Heathrow…Can someone please tell me….do we still need to pre book and pay for the ‘2 day test’?
    I am getting mixed messages …

    We will be staying in Umbria for 3 months, so we really want to know. We also understand that everything may change for us on August 30.
    We travel on Sept 1….

    Thanks so much!

  4. Carole
    What is the matter with the UK and what scientists are they listening to when they make these ridiculous decisions. A new (27 July) British study confirms that the mix of AZ/Pfizer is one of the best and gives above average protection! Introducing a 10 day quarantine is insane. Or is this yet another way of lining the pockets of the Government due to the high price of the vaccines and having to pay for additional accommodation etc. (that is if you have the time to quarantine!), plus the stress it causes!
    Wake up Britain and give the fully vaccinated a chance to travel freely and visit friends and family. Are the UK going to impose the quarantine on Angela Merkel if she travels there!

  5. Two observations. 1. If my understanding is correct, Germany is on the UK’s Green List so no proof of vaccination require, just PCR tests 2 days pre and post arrival. 2 Take a look on your EU Digitale-Zertificate der EU. It’s just got the one QR Code on opening showing you are ‘fully vaccinated’ yes border control can do a bit of scrolling to find the first one but I doubt they will

      1. You’re right of course Mark. I want to go and see a few friends and family but I don’t need to so am going to delay for the time being. Probably at least until I’m not so angry!

  6. I was in the UK for two days (10-12 august) and just returned to France. Before my flight, I had to pay for a 2-day test before getting the Amber Passenger Locator Form from the UK government’s website. The test I paid for will not be available until October for two reasons. First, it is one of the cheapest as it cost me about £21. The others I saw on the list were at exorbitant prices (£50, £129, £240, £700, et cetera), and I think France had made the right decision to start charging for the PCR test. It will be unfair to let any British (or other travellers) take these tests for free when they are charging foreigners for them. We are not Muttons! UK’s 2 or 8 days tests are now in the form of extortion of the highest order. It takes looking at the government accepted providers to see the scale of what seems like fraudulent charges, which translates to what pro-EU like me are predicting that the UK is a mess since Brexit. There are no regulations whatsoever when it comes to the limited prices to charge for these tests. Second, I was only in the Uk for two days, but I still need to book the test to obtain the passenger locator form to get into the UK. In resume, it means I paid for nothing and wasted my 21-pound sterlings. Another issue is that travelling to the UK at these moments is complete chaos!
    I wonder whether UK nationals coming into France had to go through similar worst experiences I encountered. It took us less than 50 minutes from CDG to London Heathrow Terminal 2, but it took us about 2 hours to get out of the airport. The queues (because there were two) consecutively) at the passport checking area where I should say in French, INTERMINABLE!!!. I took photos and videos. There was no social distancing, no gaps, and some people did not properly fit their masks on their faces because they proudly exposed their noses. It was a perfect terrain to catch COVID-19! Getting through the first queue took us 50 minutes through endless circles.
    When we finally got out, I thought it was over. Unfortunately, that little compared to what lay ahead of us. A lady directed us to join the second queue, this time heading towards the e-passport gates. It is sad to say this, but Brexit or no Brexit or Covid or no Covid, I firmly believe the current UK govt is incompetent to lead. I love London so much, but they have turned the city (and country) into a despicable playground. Out of the long list of e-passport gates, only THREE are in service! And these three gates are to serve hundreds of passengers on this queue.
    Anyone who travels a lot like me to the UK can relate to what happens when some folks’ passports will not go through the e-gates, and they will not budge until someone forces them out of this place. Well, we had lots of these people, and they made our waiting for a living hell. When I got out of the airport, I met complainers like me and those who feel that we are lucky not to have stayed longer than those who flow in yesterday or the day before because it was worst then. Some said the airport is short of staff because many refused to come back to worst and some had gone back to studying. I do not blame those who prefer to pursue their education rather than stay put at this kind of job in a country heading down the hill as it seems right now. My return flight on the 12 experienced significant delay because, as the pilot told us later, the relationship between France and the UK has not been a good one since Brexit. They had to go through lots of screening before being allowed to take off. Overall, what is clear is that the UK is utilising this COVID-19 situation as a political weapon to frustrate those from the EU, particularly France. It is sad!

    1. UK may be charging more for tests but they did give a vaccine to the World at cost. Sounds like you should give up on international travel for a bit

      1. You either “give” or you “sell at cost”, you don’t “give at cost”; this lapsus per se reflects the very selfish British attitude towards their vaccine “generosity”. By May 2021, the EU had exported 227 million doses to 46 countries (not counting Covax); the UK… is supposed to have begun delivering nine million doses of coronavirus vaccine to “the most vulnerable countries” early August. These are mostly doses of the sub-par Astra Zeneca vaccine that nobody wants anymore and that have to be dumped on developing countries.

        1. The British taxpayer set up 20 AZ supply lines around the World – which have supplied 97% of all vaccine doses globally. The EU is a customer and litigant and not a supplier.

          1. If AZ has a taxpayer to thank, it’s the American one: the Trump administration funded AZ-Oxford to the tune of US$1.2 bn. As per the EU being “litigant”, well, when a provider does not deliver 70% of its contract, there is ground to go to court, isn’t it? Especially since we are not talking reports or cement, but billions of dollars worth of life-saving pharmaceutical products. Pfizer and Moderna didn’t face the EU in court, because they delivered, and the EU has ordered billions of extra doses with these providers alone, AZ having pushed itself on the blacklist. And, if the AZ vaccine is so marvellous, how come hasn’t the UK ordered more of this second rate product for its own population, instead of dumping the UK AZ left-overs on developing countries?

          2. Sad to read that the UK GOV appear not to be confident of their AZ jab. My wife had one |AZ and then a Pfizer. Now despite paying into the UK Tax system for year as a resident of Germany she is not allowed to go to the UK.
            I on the other hand am allowed to travel because I had two x Pfizer. Therefore there must be something iffy about the AZ – what a shambles – starting to become a very small little island.

  7. Hello,

    Concerning the covid vaccination requirements in France, is it the case that only one jab is required when one recovered from covid?
    I would like to verify this detail ( which I read) as a non-european who would like to travel to France in a few months. Thank you for your comments!

  8. The UK government has obviously introduced this change by the back door as there has been absolutely no publicity about in the UK. The whole thing is underhand but that’s no surprise from Boris & cohorts. I live in Scotland but have small property in Italy which I have been unable to visit for nearly two years. The bottom line is none of the UK governments want anyone here to travel anywhere & are masters at antagonizing Europe & us.
    Shocking!

  9. I called the “Home Office Self Isolation Hotline” 0800 678 1767 on the UK.GOV website to clarify this rule about the “One vaccination for Covid recovered” travellers. On my pass, it says Dose(s) 1 – Vaccine completed and the person on the line responded by saying I don’t need to quarantine.

    Still haven’t book flights and still waiting for CLEAR Verification for this.

    The whole thing is a complete mess.

    1. Let’s face it, all these rules are setup to stop people travelling.
      The sheer complexity (and cost ) of the UK scheme discourages most people to travel. That’s the goal from the government’s point of view.
      Ministers rather be hated (they are anyway) than sitting in the dock for allowing a disease to spread and having done nothing to contain it.
      And most importantly, from the government’s point of view, this pandemonium will be long forgotten when the next election is called up.

  10. How do they know what vaccines you have had? My pass sanitaire says 2 doses and Moderna but my first does was AZ. Is there something in the QR code that says I hvae had one AZ and one Moderna? I was just starting to plan my trip home to see my parents and now i Have no idea when I can go and see them.

  11. This whole scheme is so costly and so unfair. We have just spent over €1000 on Covid tests for three of us travelling to the UK for a family visit and wedding (third time it had been postponed). The costs are outrageous and clearly aimed at filling the coffers of the private healthcare system (this lining the pockets of many politicians and their chums….).
    Our daughter was made to do 2 tests within the first 6 days and we also had a person call round the house to check she was there on the 4th day of her quarantine. All this because the full 14 days had not passed after her second vaccine. Worth noting that at no point during our trip to and from the UK, did anyone ask to see our vaccine certificates/Green Pass.
    As for the mixed vaccines rule (which would have applied to her) I have only just read about this – thankfully we are now back home in Italy. However I have also noticed that the tampone costs have increased from €39 to €50 per person! I can imagine there are families who have not been able to reunite this summer because of this prohibitively costly set of hurdles. It’s a poor reflection on the UK government but really not that surprising unfortunately.

  12. Months ago I mentioned that this vaccine malarky was just a money making scam. And reading all your messages above, confirms it.
    Most people on this site jumped down my throat calling me terrible names – well, I hope you’re feeling sorry.

  13. does anyone actually know if when visiting the UK from Denmark for 3 nights, Friday to Monday, if we actually need a fit to fly test or will the day 2 results suffice, i was leaving Stanstead airport yesterday morning and their customer service team there,4 of them, could not answer the question.

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DRIVING

What’s it like driving from Scandinavia to the UK with a young family?

With the cost of airline tickets increasingly discouraging, is driving from Scandinavia to the UK becoming a more attractive option? The Local Denmark editor Michael Barrett gave it a try.

What’s it like driving from Scandinavia to the UK with a young family?

This summer has seen the return of large-scale international travel after a couple of Covid-hit years that have not been a picnic for anyone.

While the end of restrictions came as a relief, severe delays and disruptions at airports have added a new uncertainty around travel in 2022.

Scandinavia has not been an exception to this, with strikes at Scandinavian airline SAS and delays at Copenhagen and other airports among the problems faced by the sector.

Additionally, the increasing price of airline tickets in a time when inflation is hitting living costs across the board has become another factor discouraging air travel.

Finally, there’s the impact of air travel on climate to be considered. So is there an alternative?

The plan

Unlike colleagues who have made long distance journeys from France and Sweden respectively by rail, our plan was to make the trip from our home in Denmark to the UK by car.

There are a few reasons we picked this less climate-friendly option. I’ll readily admit they were driven (no pun intended) by our own needs, and not those of the planet. I hope we can offset this by using the train more than the car for longer journeys within Denmark, where costs are competitive.

Once we decided not to take our usual Ryanair flight, we only really considered driving. This is primarily because we have a toddler (age two), and felt that on such a long journey, the ability to control the timing and length of our stops would be crucial.

Secondly, the route would have taken longer and been more difficult logistically by rail, and would also have cost more. For example, we arrived at Harwich International Port late on a weekday evening, from where onward travel was to rural Suffolk. The thought of doing this on multiple local rail (possibly bus) services with a tired two-year-old makes me shudder a bit.

The route

From our home in central Denmark, we set out on a Monday morning and drove south on the E45 motorway, crossing the German border and continuing past Hamburg. We then got on to the A1 Autobahn and made for Bremen, where we stopped overnight.

Travelling non-stop, this journey takes just under four hours. It took us around five and a half. We stopped twice and were caught in traffic at Hamburg, where there is lot of construction going on around the city’s ring road.

Leaving early (just after 6am) the following day, we drove southwest and crossed the border into the Netherlands after a brief stop, but then managed to complete the journey to the port town Hook of Holland without a further break.

Our ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich was due to leave at 2:15pm and check-in time was an hour before that. This was the only deadline we had on our journey that would have been problematic to miss, so we gave ourselves plenty of time for the drive from Bremen. We arrived in Hook of Holland at around 11:30am.

Next was a six-hour ferry crossing to the East Anglian coast. We booked a cabin – they are inexpensive on daytime crossings – which gave us a chance to relax after the drive and our daughter a comfortable spot for her afternoon nap.

After a queue at customs in Harwich which took around 45 minutes, we were driving through the Essex countryside just before 9pm local time. The final drive to our destination took an hour and a half.

What went right

It’s not the most relevant information for anyone considering a similar trip, but I have to mention our car. A 2003 VW Polo we bought two years ago that has never had any mechanical issues, I was nevertheless braced for possible problems given its age (and ensured I had roadside assistance for outside of Denmark, more detail on this below).

However, there was not so much as a hint of an issue of any kind at any point during the 900 kilometres it covered on the journey, nor on the way home. Respect.

Our plan to split the trip into two days paid off. I think you could do it in one day (there are also overnight ferries) if you shared the driving and needed less flexibility. I should also recognise here that we live relatively close to Germany and our destination was close to the east coast of the UK. If you were travelling, for example, from Copenhagen to Cardiff, you’d have significantly more driving to do.

For us, knowing we could take long breaks if we needed them took a lot of stress out of the journey and allowed us to adapt to our toddler’s needs – changing nappies, finding a service station playground or stopping for an ice cream.

Stopping overnight also gave us the chance to see some new places (we switched things up on the way back and stayed in Groningen in the north of the Netherlands, instead of Bremen) and gave us a feeling of being on our own little bonus holiday.

What went wrong

In all, things went as well as we possibly could have hoped for and our conclusion after we got back home was that we’d like to travel this way again.

We were stopped by traffic police in Groningen city centre because I failed to understand signs showing we were entering a public transport-only zone. The officers who stopped us then offered to escort us to our accommodation a few streets away.

The ferry, operated by Stena Lines, had far less to do on board than we’d imagined there would be on a six-hour voyage. Two tiny off-duty shops, a cinema showing a superhero film and a minuscule play area (which our daughter nevertheless enjoyed) were about the extent of it. We hadn’t downloaded any films ourselves or brought much entertainment with us from the car, so we got a bit bored during the crossing. This is hardly a serious gripe and an easy one to rectify on the return trip.

The practical stuff 

Roadside assistance is obviously crucial for a journey like this, and it’s also important to double check your insurance is valid once you leave the country in which your car is registered and insured – Denmark, in our case.

Foreign authorities can check your insurance is valid. You can document this with the International Motor Insurance or “Green” card, which serves as proof you have motor insurance when you drive outside of the EU (you don’t need it within the EU).

This means that (in theory) you can be asked to present it in the UK. We weren’t asked for it.

The Green Card can be printed via your insurance company’s website. You’ll need your MitID or NemID secure login to access the platform and print off your document. Here is an example of the relevant page on the website of insurance company Tryg. If you can’t find the right section on your insurance company’s website, contact them by phone.

A number of Danish companies specialise in roadside assistance, including Falck and SOS Dansk Autohjælp. You can also include roadside assistance as part of your motor insurance package. We have the latter option, but in either case, I’d recommend calling your provider to make sure you are covered for breakdown in the EU and non-EU countries like the UK (if that’s where you’re going). Obviously, you should add such cover to your existing deal if you don’t have it, or change to a different deal.

The company which operates the ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich is Stena Line. Both directions have daytime and overnight departures.

There is a range of prices, and I couldn’t cover all the options here if I tried. However, I’d recommend a cabin on the daytime departures, because it’s inexpensive and gives you a bit of personal space and privacy, which is useful with children.

After calculating what our approximate fuel costs would be, the price of the hotel stays and ferry tickets, we found that the trip cost around 1,500 kroner more than we would have paid to fly from Billund Airport to London Stansted with checked-in baggage with Ryanair on the same dates. In return, we could take as much luggage as we want with us (and back), we got to see Bremen and Groningen and had our own car with us in the UK. This was more than worth the additional expense.

I also spent 50 kroner on a “DK” sticker for the tailgate of the car (because the car is so old it predates the EU number plates that include the country code) and 70 kroner for some headlight stickers which prevent full beam headlamps from dazzling oncoming drivers when you are driving on the left in the UK.

As I busily fixed them onto my car as we waited to disembark the ferry, however, a lorry driver parked next to us said these were, in fact, entirely unnecessary.

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