Covid-19: Rules for travel to and from France
We look at rules for people entering France from the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and the rest of the EU, as well as what travellers leaving France for those same countries are required to do
Pic: The Connexion
[This article is updated regularly to reflect new rules as they emerge; we advise also checking government sources prior to travel.]
France has relaxed its restrictions on fully vaccinated travellers to the UK, who no longer have to produce an essential reason for travel.
Everyone entering the UK must:
- Fill in a passenger locator form as per UK government instructions. This must be done in the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK. The details of under-18s (or under-16s in Scotland) who will be staying at the same UK address as any adults in the group can be added to their parent or guardian’s form.
People travelling to the UK no longer need to take a pre-departure test in the 48 hours before their journey begins.
Fully vaccinated passengers must also:
- book and pay in-advance for a test to be taken on or before day two after arriving (the arrival day is day zero).
As of January 9, this day two test can be a lateral flow rather than a PCR test, and travellers do not need to self-isolate while they wait for their result.
The UK accepts vaccination certificates from EU countries including France and from America for entry into the country.
Those not fully vaccinated must:
- be able to present proof of an essential reason for travel. Further information on this can be found here.
- book and pay in advance for two PCR tests to be taken on or before day two and on or after day eight after arriving.
- 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 five, allowing you to leave quarantine early. This is not available for travellers arriving in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland.
Those who need to quarantine on arrival must go directly to where they 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 two and day eight 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 five may be able to leave quarantine early if they get their negative result back in time.
Children aged four and under are not subject to any restrictions, while five to 17-year-olds must carry out a day two test after arriving in the UK.
Fully vaccinated people are now allowed to travel from the UK to France without needing an essential reason, and will not have to quarantine when they arrive.
All travellers must:
- Sign a sworn statement (engagement sur l’honneur) confirming that they are not experiencing Covid symptoms and have not in the last 14 days been in contact with a confirmed Covid case. This document can also be found on this Interior Ministry page.
- Present the negative result of a PCR or antigen test taken in the 24 hours before their journey begins
Children aged under 12 do not need to present a test. The UK government website states that in France: "The same measures applied to vaccinated adults are applied to any minors who are travelling with them, whether vaccinated or not."
Unvaccinated travellers must also:
- Be able to present an essential reason for travel
- Quarantine for 10 days on arrival. They must sign up to an online platform before their journey so that a prefectural decree can be issued with instructions for their self-isolation period.
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 day-care or school for 14 days.
Unvaccinated children between the ages of 12 to 17 and dependent children 18 or older (dependent 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 one and day eight 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 amber 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. You also require a negative Covid PCR or antigen test from the previous 48 hours before departure.
Unvaccinated people must have a compelling reason for travel, complete the sworn statement and take a pre-departure test, before quarantining for seven days on arrival in France.
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
US borders have now reopened to fully vaccinated travellers from France, who must present proof of their vaccination to the airline before boarding. Unvaccinated travellers are not generally allowed to enter the country, but there are some exceptions. Children under 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement.
All passengers must present the negative result of a Covid test taken less than one day before their flight departs, either PCR or antigen (not self-test versions).
Everyone must provide the airline with certain information for contact tracing purposes.
Fully vaccinated people: The US is on France's red list. People who have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine accepted by France will not be subject to restrictions on entering the country. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the federal government, list France as class 4 for for travel purposes, meaning they advise against travel.
You must 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.
Fully vaccinated people aged 12 and over travelling from the US to France will need to take a PCR or antigen test in the 48 hours before their journey begins.
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 or antigen test in the 48 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 10 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 nor contact with someone with a confirmed case of Covid. Fully vaccinated people aged 12 and over travelling to France will need to take a PCR or antigen test in the 48 hours before their journey begins.
Non-fully vaccinated people: You must present proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen Covid-19 test taken within 48 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 may now travel to and from Australia if fully vaccinated or under 12, although certain conditions may apply.
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: Must present proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen Covid-19 test taken within 24 hours of travelling.
New rules for Belgium to France
France has imposed extra measures on the Belgian border for people coming into France.
Anyone travelling into France aged 12 and over must now be vaccinated, or show a negative PCR or lateral flow test from within the past 24 hours. However this does not apply to:
- HGV drivers who are crossing for border for work
- people who live within 30km of the border
- people travelling for emergency reasons
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.
For example, travellers to Italy, Malta or Slovenia must complete a passenger locator form before their trip. To enter Italy, fully vaccinated travellers must ensure their latest vaccine dose was administered no more than 270 days prior (eight months, three weeks and five days).
To enter Spain by plane or ferry, travellers must fill out a Health Control Form (similar to a passenger locator form). This can be done online at this link. There is a separate form for those travelling by ferry. Passengers will receive a QR code that they must show to travel authorities. Travellers entering Spain by road do not require this form.
It is advisable to check the French foreign affairs ministry's website for the latest information on entry to different EU countries from France.
From February 1, a booster vaccine shot - received at most nine months after your second or only (in the case of Johnson & Johnson) vaccination - will be required to maintain the digital EU Covid pass.
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 need to provide proof of your vaccination status and a sworn statement attesting to the absence of Covid-related symptoms or having been recently in contact with someone with Covid-19. Fully vaccinated people aged 12 and over travelling to France will need to take a PCR or antigen test in the 48 hours before their journey begins.
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:
- Undertake 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.
- Complete 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 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 recognized 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).