Quarantine for travel to France? FAQs and latest info
As France prepares to impose voluntary quarantine measures on arrivals from the UK and elsewhere, we consider the current rules, which can vary depending on where you are travelling from.
The rules come as the state of health emergency was prolonged in France - on May 11 - to at least July 10.
The general rule: Voluntary quarantine (obligatory in case of symptoms)
All people at risk of being infected, who arrive on French soil, are invited to quarantine themselves voluntarily for two weeks.
Quarantine means staying inside and self-isolating for 14 days. This means not leaving the house for any reason, including to shop, unless in a health emergency. People must avoid contact with others as much as possible, even within the same household, and ask friends or neighbours to deliver food and other essentials without contact.
This concerns "persons who have stayed, during the previous month, in an area where the infection is circulating, and who enter the country or who arrive in Corsica or one of the [French] overseas territories”.
At the time of writing, all countries are being considered “virus zones” where the virus is circulating, as stated in a health ministry decree from May 22.
Transport companies must communicate passenger data to local authorities if they so request, to check who is entering the country.
Local prefects are authorised to impose a voluntary quarantine on arrivals to their area.
The quarantine is - so far - voluntary, with people having a choice to self-isolate at home, or in accommodation provided for the purpose. It must last no longer than 14 days, people cannot be asked to self-isolate for longer than 14 days without a medical certificate stating that this is necessary.
However, people who enter the country and who have symptoms of Covid-19 must self-isolate as soon as they arrive, as stipulated in the May 22 decree from the French foreign office, le Quai d’Orsay.
Voluntary two-week quarantine for French nationals arriving from outside the EU
Currently, borders into France from outside the EU are closed.
Travellers are therefore banned from coming into France, except if they are arriving from an EU member state, or the UK, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, or the Vatican.
French people, or permanent residents in France - as well as people who regularly travel into France for specific reasons - are able to enter the country from outside these European nations, if they have the correct attestation declaration form, and are travelling for one of the reasons stated by the Ministry of the Interior.
However, these people are also invited to self-isolate voluntarily for 14 days, as soon as they arrive in France. This measure has been in place since Wednesday May 20.
The 14-day quarantine is also not mandatory, but the minister for foreign affairs called on people’s "civic-mindedness and sense of responsibility”, to apply this measure as a means of stopping the spread of the virus.
The minister for foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, described the measure as an "autonomous initiative, based on personal responsibility".
Exceptions to the quarantine include:
- People who do not have symptoms and who are only entering France in transit to another country
- Border and foreign workers
- Health professionals from abroad who are working against Covid-19
- People who work in travel or transit (such as cabin crew, cargo plane crew, international shipping staff, train drivers, fishing boat workers, commercial shipping staff, and diplomatic staff etc).
No quarantine for travellers coming into France from Europe
France is keen to ensure that travellers can move freely within Europe, within careful context and agreement from the other EU and European states.
France has said that there is no need to put systematic, mandatory quarantine measures in place for access to France from within Europe, "in light of the close epidemiological situations between European states and the coordination of crisis management measures".
This applies to the EU member states, as well as the UK, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, and the Vatican.
French nationals, or permanent residents in France, who are arriving in France from these countries, are therefore allowed to enter without needing to self-isolate.
This includes people who are exempt from the quarantine (see bullet point list above).
This also includes people who are coming into France to work, for family reasons (separated partners sharing childcare, childcare reasons, educational reasons, or to visit dependent parents or relatives), or workers (seasonal workers, European nationals who are travelling for professional reasons that cannot be postponed).
‘Reciprocal’ voluntary quarantine for arrivals coming from the UK and Spain
From Monday May 25, all travellers who arrive in France from Spain, by air, are invited to voluntarily quarantine for 14 days.
The French ministry for foreign affairs stated that this had been suggested as a “reciprocal” measure, in response to Spain’s decision on May 15 to impose a 14-day quarantine on arrivals into Spain by air, until July 1.
A similar, voluntary, reciprocal agreement will be in place for arrivals into France from the UK, by any means, regardless of nationality or residence status, from June 8. This will be imposed in France in response to the UK requiring arrivals into the UK to self-isolate from the same date.
Rules for French overseas territories subject to the specific health situation
On May 12, the government scientific advisory council, le Conseil Scientifique, recommended that the “arrangements for travellers” coming from French overseas territories should be “adjusted” depending on the changing health situation in each separate territory.
The council outlined three distinct situations at the time, requiring different measures.
- Epidemic still growing in Mayotte
- Epidemic decreasing in six territories (Stage 2 for French Guiana, La Réunion and French Polynesia and Stage 3 for Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin and Martinique)
- No epidemic, or no longer an epidemic, in Wallis and Futuna, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, Saint-Barthélémy and Nouvelle-Calédonie
Different measures will therefore be applied depending on the changing situations.
Previously, travellers from Guadeloupe and Martinique were required to self-isolate, but since May 25 this has now been lifted.
Yet, travellers from French Guiana are still required to quarantine.
Passengers transiting through Martinique or Guadeloupe from France must "carry out their 14-day quarantine as soon as they disembark at their final destination", said the prefectures of Martinique and Guadeloupe.
They reminded the public that they should "only travel for an imperative reason of a personal or family nature, an emergency health reason, or a professional reason that cannot be postponed".
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