Covid-19: Rules for travel to and from France
We look at rules for people entering France from the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa and the rest of the EU, as well as what travellers leaving France for those same countries are required to do
Pic: The Connexion
[Article updated September 22, 2021, to reflect new the UK government's traffic light system update]
Rules for France-UK and UK-France travel
France is on the UK's amber list.
The French government says that fully vaccinated people can travel from France to the UK without an essential reason.
However, those not fully vaccinated can only leave for an essential reason and must complete a Certificate to leave Metropolitan France (attestation de sortie du territoire métropolitain).
The UK government states that before leaving France everyone must fill in a UK passenger locator form if over the age of 18.
You can find the form on the UK government's website here. This must be done within 48 hours prior to leaving France. The details of under-18s (under-16s for Scotland) can be added to their parents' forms.
Fully vaccinated travellers do not need to quarantine on arrival in the UK.
- have proof of a negative Covid-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken in the three calendar days before the day of departure.
- book and pay in-advance for a second PCR test to be taken on or before day two after arriving (the arrival day is day zero).
- fill in your passenger locator form (for over 18s only, details above).
The UK accepts vaccination certificates from EU countries including France and from America.
Please note that from 04:00 on October 4, fully vaccinated travellers to England will not need to take a pre-departure test, and from later in the month will be able to swap their day 2 PCR for a lateral flow test.
Those not fully vaccinated:
All travellers must:
- fill in their passenger locator form (if over 18).
- quarantine for 10 days on arrival in the UK (if over 18). For people travelling to England, there is an option to buy a ‘test to release’ kit for day 5, allowing you to leave quarantine early. This is not available for travellers arriving in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland.
- have proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours before departure
- book and pay in advance for two further PCR tests to be taken on or before day two and on or after day eight after arriving. Please note that under-5s do not need to take any tests, while five to 10-year-olds can skip the pre-departure test.
Those who need to quarantine on arrival must go directly to where you are quarantining and remain there for 10 days. The day you arrive is day 0.
If you are staying in the UK for less than 10 days, you must quarantine for the whole stay. You must also book your day 2 and day 8 Covid tests even if you will no longer be there for the whole of your stay.
People who opt to take an additional 'test to release' test on day 5 may be able to leave quarantine early if they get their negative result back in time.
If you are not vaccinated, you will still have to quarantine and take day 2 and 8 PCR tests after England's new travel rules come into force in October.
Fully vaccinated people: The UK is on France's amber list, meaning that vaccinated people are free to travel there for non-essential reasons such as holidays or visits to your second home. You do not have to quarantine on arrival.
Before you travel, you must present to the UK travel company:
- proof of your vaccination status
- a completed ‘sworn statement’ (engagement sur l’honneur, on the French government website here) form self-certifying that you are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight.
On the above page, you can choose to view a British version of the rules in place. Make sure you have selected the section regarding amber list countries and then scroll down to Part 2.
As you are already vaccinated, you do not need to fill in the travel certificate including under 'Mobility Rules and Regulations'. However, you do need to complete the Statement of Honour form sitting in the 'Health Control Measures' section.
Non-fully vaccinated people: You can only enter France if you have an essential reason. Most essential reasons involve you having the right to live or work in France but also include the need to enter the country because of the death of a close family member, a university exchange programme, emergency medical treatment or professional sports commitments.
Unvaccinated people entering France from the UK must also present:
- present a negative Covid test taken less than 24 hours before departure. This does not apply for children below the age of 12.
- complete a sworn statement. This is as above, but also includes a promise to self-isolate for one week.
- self-isolate for seven days upon arrival at a place of your choice (and do a voluntary antigen test). At the end of this time, you must take a PCR test and return a negative result to be able to leave your isolation.
Children: Unvaccinated children aged 12 or over who are travelling alone are subject to the same rules as adults and must present a negative test result and Travel Certificate, and quarantine on arrival. Those who are aged 12 and over but are travelling with a fully vaccinated adult must take a test but do not need to comply with the other two conditions.
From October 4, the UK government will be scrapping its current traffic light system, meaning that countries will be split into 'red' and 'non-red' categories and there will no longer be an amber designation, although certain restrictions will still apply.
Rules for France-Canada and Canada-France travel
Fully vaccinated foreign nationals are eligible to enter Canada for discretionary (non-essential) reasons, such as tourism. However, these individuals must respect certain rules explained here.
Unvaccinated children under 12 years of age of fully vaccinated parents and/or guardians are exempt from quarantine when accompanied by their fully vaccinated parent(s)/guardian(s), but must follow enhanced public health measures, which includes not attending daycare or school for 14 days.
Unvaccinated children between the ages of 12 to 17 and dependent children 18 or older (due to a mental or physical condition) are permitted to enter Canada with their fully vaccinated parent(s) and/or guardian(s), but are subject to the 14-day quarantine.
All unvaccinated children (except those under 5 years of age) will remain subject to day 1 and day 8 testing requirements. Provinces and territories may have more stringent rules for people who have recently returned from travel.
Fully vaccinated people: Canada is currently on France's green list, so if you are fully vaccinated with a vaccine accepted by France, you can travel freely to France. The Canadian government is advising against all non-essential travel to France.
You must be able to present proof of your vaccination status and a sworn statement (engagement sur l'honneur) promising that you do not have symptoms of Covid-19 nor contact with someone with a confirmed case of Covid-19.
Non-fully vaccinated people: You must present proof of recovery from Covid within the last six months or a negative PCR or rapid antigen Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of travelling. You must also complete a sworn statement that you do not have symptoms of Covid-19 nor contact with someone with a confirmed case of Covid-19.
Children: Children under 12 years of age do not need to take a test but do need to fill in their sworn statement.
Rules for France-US and US-France travel
Only US citizens and permanent residents can currently travel from France to the United States.
Everyone must have proof of a negative Covid test or documentation of recovery from Covid.
All passengers including children over the age of two must have taken a PCR or antigen test within 72 hours of boarding the airplane. Alternatively, passengers can show proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from their healthcare provider or a public health official stating that they were cleared to travel.
There is also no need to show proof of vaccination at present. However, people are being advised to delay international travel until they are fully vaccinated.
No quarantine is required on entry to the US.
From November, fully vaccinated people from France and the rest of the EU will be allowed to travel to the US as long as they can present proof of vaccination and the negative result of a PCR test taken in the three days before their flight departs.
Non-vaccinated people will still be barred from visiting the country, although children under 12 will be exempt from the requirement.
Fully vaccinated people: The US is on France's amber list. This means that people who have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine accepted by France will not be subject to restrictions on entering the country. The US government classes France as a level 4 country: while there is no ban on travel, the official advice is: "Do not travel to France due to Covid-19".
You must however be able to show proof of your vaccination status and a sworn statement confirming that you are not experiencing Covid symptoms and have not been in recent contact with someone who has tested positive.
The US Embassy in France states: "French authorities have been accepting the CDC card as acceptable evidence of vaccination for entry into France, but it is not accepted as a French health pass required for domestic travel within France or to enter cultural sites, museums, theatres, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cafes, athletic facilities, medical offices and hospitals (except for emergencies), retirement homes, and some other facilities."
Non-fully vaccinated people: You must be travelling to France for an essential purpose, detailed in a Travel Certificate (attestation d'entrée sur le territoire métropolitain).
You must take a PCR test in the 72 hours before your departure and be able to show a negative result to the travel company.
Apart from this, you must also complete a sworn statement which is as above but which also includes a promise to self-isolate for seven days on your arrival and carry out another PCR test at the end of this period.
Rules for travel from or to Australia or New Zealand from France
What France says:
Fully vaccinated people: You can travel freely to France. You must be able to present proof of your vaccination status and a sworn statement you do not have symptoms of Covid-19 nor contact with someone with a confirmed case of Covid-19.
Non-fully vaccinated people: You must present proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of travelling and a sworn statement you do not have symptoms of Covid nor contact with someone with a confirmed case.
What Australia says: If you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident you cannot leave Australia due to Covid-19 restrictions unless you have an exemption.
What New Zealand says: The New Zealand government advice is to not travel overseas.
Only Australian citizens can travel from France to Australia at the moment. There are limited flights and caps on the number of passengers entering the country from overseas. These are in place to ease pressure on state and territory quarantine facilities.
If you manage to get a flight, you must take a PCR test in the 72 hours prior to departure and quarantine for 14 days at a designated facility in your port of arrival.
New Zealand's borders are closed to most travellers. Exceptions include residents, visa holders and diplomats. Those who do travel to the country must take a PCR, antigen or LAMP test in the 72 hours before departure and quarantine for 14 days in specially adapted accommodation.
Rules for travel between France and other EU countries
Fully vaccinated people: The French government says that you can travel freely to France, but you must be able to present proof of your vaccination status. The EU states that travel between member states is open but advises that travellers check national rules.
Non-fully vaccinated people: You must present proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of travelling.
A Covid-19 test of less than 24 hours is required from France for travellers coming from Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Greece.
Travel within the EU is possible from France on proof of either a negative PCR test, a document saying that you have had Covid and recovered, or that you are fully vaccinated.
A pan-EU digital Covid pass system is in place for mutual recognition of certificates, though individual countries may still have certain specific rules.
It is advisable to check the French foreign affairs ministry's website for the latest information on entry to different EU countries from France.
Rules for travel between France and red list countries
Red list country-France
Fully vaccinated people: If you are fully vaccinated with a vaccine accepted by France, you only need to provide proof of your vaccination status and an engagement attesting to the absence of Covid-related symptoms or having been recently in contact with someone with Covid-19.
Non-fully vaccinated people:
People in red list countries who are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with a vaccine recognised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) need to present an essential reason for travelling to France.
The essential reasons are mainly related to having the right to live and work in France.
A full list of reasons can be found at this link.
Non-fully vaccinated travellers from red-list countries must also:
- Carry out a period of self-isolation for 10 days upon arrival in France. There will be random police checks to make sure you follow this. You must provide proof of the address you will be staying at in France to travel authorities and/or border agents.
- Present the transport company and the border control authorities a negative PCR or antigen test dated less than 48 hours before departure (departure of the first flight in the case of a connecting journey). Children under the age of twelve are exempt from testing.
- Fill out a sworn statement attesting to the absence of symptoms of Covid-19 and of contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19
- Confirm you will accept a possible antigen test or biological examination to check for Covid-19, which will be carried out on arrival in metropolitan France
France-red list country
Vaccinated travellers may leave France for a red list country for any reason, but unvaccinated people must only present proof of an essential purpose before their departure.
What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?
France considers a person fully vaccinated:
- Seven days after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech [also known as Comirnaty], Moderna [now called Spikevax] and AstraZeneca [now called Vaxzevria] vaccines
- Four weeks after receiving the first (and only) dose of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine
- The same conditions apply for those who received a vaccine recognised by the French medicines regulator as having similar composition and manufacturing process to one of the European Medicines Agency-authorised vaccines listed above, such as Covishield
- Seven days after the first dose of a vaccine for anyone who has already had Covid-19
How do I prove my vaccination status?
An EU-wide system launched on July 1, enabling vaccination certificates to be verified throughout the bloc.
People travelling from the US can use their CDC card to prove their vaccination status, and people coming from the UK can use their NHS vaccination certificates.
The Canadian government states that "Travellers fully vaccinated have to show a document to prove that they have received a vaccine recognize by the European Medicines Agency."
However, foreign vaccination certificates cannot generally be used as a health pass (pass sanitaire) once you have entered France.
What are France’s essential reasons for travel?
The majority of France’s essential reasons for travel are related to the person having the right to live or work in France.
The list of reasons for amber countries can be found on the French government website here (in French).
The list for red countries can be found here (in French).