How strict are France’s Covid border checks? Readers share experiences

Most readers report smooth entry to France, once they assemble all the necessary documents

23 July 2021
Travelling to France by plane, train or ferry

The rules and Covid restrictions for entering France vary depending on the country people are travelling from Pic: The Connexion | Shutterstock

The rules for entering France vary depending on the country you are travelling from and whether it is classified as red, amber or green under France’s Covid-related travel system. 

The rules change regularly, making travel to France confusing. In addition, travellers need to check the travel rules in the country they are coming from.

Read more: Covid-19: Rules for travel to and from France

However, real-life experiences often vary from the official rules, so we asked readers to share their experiences of travelling to France under the current Covid-19 restrictions, what documents they were asked for and how difficult the process was. Here is a selection:

Do you want to share your experience with us? please email news@connexionfrance.com

 *Names and personal information of readers have not been included

Travelling to France by train

We travelled from Folkestone on an early Eurotunnel crossing yesterday (July, 15) and were only asked for passports and COVID test results.

*

We travelled on Eurotunnel on July 11 having uploaded the Eurotunnel form, PCR test results, vaccine status and attestations.

The tunnel toll operator complimented us, saying we would avoid a long queue at the terminal for those who had not uploaded at home. There was indeed a long queue. UK passport looked at our passports but had no questions. Security search waved us through. French passports stamped passports but only asked if we had had tests and if we were vaccinated.

*

I took the Eurotunnel both ways last week - between France and the UK. I uploaded my documents beforehand onto the Eurotunnel website - e.g. antigen Covid test result, sworn statement for being symptom-free, and statement to say if you’ve been vaccinated or not.

These are then verified (green tick appears) and that means there’s minimal fuss when travelling. I was on the train in five minutes in both directions. Didn’t need to leave the car once!

*

I returned to France from England on July 2 with Eurotunnel. I drove through UK immigration - they just wanted passports, got to the France passport control and it went like: 

- Passports

- I handed them over

- Do you speak French?

- Yes

- Have you been vaccinated?

- Yes

- Can I see evidence?

- Yes (I passed over the vaccination certificates)

- He checked them, scanned the QR codes, handed our passports and vaccine certs back and said we could go

He didn't ask if we'd done or had a covid test, didn't ask about where we lived or our right to live in France.

*

We travelled from the UK (England) to France on June 25, via the tunnel: Folkestone to Calais.

We were asked if we were vaccinated, but the QR code on the NHS app was neither requested nor checked.

We presented PCR test results, but these were not looked at; neither was the signed declaration [attesting to not have any Covid symptoms].

French passport control requested and retained the passenger locator form. We were asked about the nature of our trip, and we replied ‘visiting family’.

*

I took the Eurostar on Monday (July 12). Eurostar staff checked all three documents (vaccination certificate, Covid test, attestation sur l'honneur) in the queue before going through. UK passport control didn’t look at any of them and the French control just looked at the vaccination certificate/Covid test. The bloke in front was asked by French passport control the purpose of his journey and final destination, but I wasn’t.

*

My son and I travelled from the UK to France on Eurotunnel on May 30 in a mad rush on the day before the French temporarily closed their border with the UK for all but essential travel.

The rail terminal car park was patrolled by Kent Police, who checked that every car had the right documents before letting them out of the car park (those that were missing a form were given a copy to complete, if possible).

French border control asked the purpose of our visit and we explained (in French) that after a year’s absence we were keen to get to our house whilst we could in order to check on it as we were worried about the roof. We got a very sarcastic reply saying that he would bet that the roof would be absolutely fine after tomorrow (i.e. once the border was closed!), but he was otherwise fine.

My husband then travelled out to join us by Eurostar June 11. At St Pancras he was asked for proof of ownership of a second home, which he had forgotten to bring. French Border Control then decided that checking his Covid vaccination status would do instead.

My son returned to London by Eurostar around July 5 - no issues at all.

All passports were stamped.

Travelling to France by air

I flew in from Manchester to Carcassonne on Monday (July 19), and only had to present my NHS certificate and the declaration of honour. Though I thought that I was expected to provide my personal money holdings and where I was going to stay and for how long. 

*

I arrived in France from New Zealand on July 13. The information needed to prepare for entry was very clear and easily accessible on the FR website (Included Vaccinations and official NZ Government proof of these, plus forms information required for contact tracing both pre and post-entry)

Arrival was well controlled - clear and staff walked the talk regarding distancing, mask wearing and hygiene. Border control staff checked all the documents quickly together with my normal travel documents and it would seem previous travel history. They were quick, polite and welcoming.

*

We arrived at Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport at the end of June on an Air France flight from San Francisco. We needed a ticket, passport and vaccination card to board. We needed just the same to check-in through customs control at CDG. 

We filled out a track-and-trace information form on the plane, which Air France collected. I think it was only to trace people on the airplane if someone on the flight tested positive in the next week or so.

*

My husband and I returned to France on July 7 after visiting the US for three weeks. Our return flights were on Air France. When we checked in at San Francisco we showed our passports and vaccination certificates (no Covid test required since we are vaccinated). 

We filled out a form on the plane that asked for contact information in France, just in case any contact tracing was needed later. The flight attendants collected these forms (we filled out the same form on our final flight CDG to Bordeaux Airport). 

Upon arrival at CDG, we went through the usual passport control, showing passports and cartes de séjour only. No health screenings.

*

I am double vaccinated and have the EU health pass document (Digital Covid Certificate) and I have a French carte de séjour.

To leave France, via Paris CDG, at passport control I only show my passport and also present my carte de séjour with it. Since January 1, when Brexit kicked in, my passport has been stamped probably 75% of the time. 

Currently I have not had to produce any other documents but during lockdowns I have had to have French government forms with a reason for travel along with a letter from my employer stating that I was a key worker in the oil and gas industry.

At the airport gate, there have always been checks carried out to show proof of negative Covid test, produce UK Government passenger locator form and proof of purchasing the day 2/8 testing kit (email confirmation has always been ok).

Arriving at UK passport control has involved answering questions as to where I have come from, purpose of visit and producing proof of having Covid tests and the passenger locator form. 

Returning back to France I have had to do a PCR test in Aberdeen, which costs me £180. Current documentation needed (aside from the Covid test) is only my vaccination certificate, and I have to fill out a passenger locator form on the Air France flight to hand in to cabin crew.

Recent passport control queues haven’t been too bad at CDG (10 minutes’ maximum wait). 

Again, production of negative Covid test certificates has been required and a checkpoint short of passport control was set up to screen these.

Tips I would offer to people travelling [between France and the UK] would be to keep a regular check on both government websites for entry requirements as they change and without notice.

Line up your Covid tests in advance and it’s worthwhile booking an appointment remembering that certificates are only valid for 72 hours prior to entry.

Day 2/8 testing kits for arrival in the UK can be purchased from any of the recognised suppliers listed on the UK government website

*

I flew from Paris to Milan on July 1 with Air France and there were no checks anywhere…

I was travelling on an Australian passport with a French working visa.

I travelled back from Milan to Paris on July 5 with Easyjet. Easyjet checked I was vaccinated before I put my bags in but just looked at my phone. I then waited in a line for 30 plus minutes after my flight in Paris like I was going through passport control.

Handed over my passport and had all the other paperwork ready. Didn't even look at it.....

Travelling to France by ferry

We travelled with Brittany Ferries on Tuesday July 13, from Portsmouth to Caen. Very easy UK side. Gave passport, fit to fly certificate, form to confirm you haven’t got Covid and double vaccination certificate, as well as very expensive Animal certificate, all 11 pages of it.

When we got to France we handed over the same, it was very quick and the border control stamped my passport. Less trouble than we thought there would be.

*

We took the Ferry DFDS from Dover to Calais on July 7.

At Dover police de la frontière asked if we were vaccinated (we are). I waved certificates out of the car window - they didn’t take them into the booth - actually they didn’t handle them at all.  Didn’t ask for any other documents.

Drove off the ferry and on to the autoroute in Calais without seeing a single official.  No gendarmes at any of the péages

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We came over with DFDS, Dover to Calais on June 17. We had all the required documents printed off: Negative PCR tests; NHS vaccination certificates; and the required French declaration [stating we do not have Covid symptoms]. 

At Dover port, the first booth was French customs. We handed passports and paperwork in together. He did the usual electronic passport check and had a quick look at the paperwork. That was it. Round to the check-in booth at DFDS. Only passports checked and then onto the ferry. At Calais we drove straight off the ferry and straight out of the port. No checks whatsoever. 

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I took Brittany Ferries June 9, UK to France. Checked in in Portsmouth with all required documents - passport, negative Covid test and vaccination certificate. 

On the French side, I just gave the same documents - couldn’t say whether they checked or not but was asked where I lived, France or England. I told them I have a second home in France. No check of vehicle at all. Passport stamped and documents given back.

*

We crossed to France June 8, making sure we were carrying all the correct documentation.

We took the Dover - Calais route via DFDS and arrived at the port in good time for all our paperwork to be checked. 

Arriving at the kiosk, the British asked only for our passports. It was the same at the French kiosk, and our passports were stamped.
At the booking kiosk I asked which documents were to be presented first, ‘just passports’, was the reply, and our boarding passes were issued. 

On arrival in France no one asked for any documentation and we were allowed to exit after a brief check that we weren’t carrying more than €10,000 with us or had any new goods. 

*

I travelled from the UK to France by ferry on July 1.

Passport, attestation sur l'honneur, antigen negative test result and double vaccination certificate were all checked at the port at Ouistreham on entry to France.

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I travelled to France on June 16 and returned to the UK on July 1, using the P&O Ferries service Dover to Calais return.  

On the outward trip the first stop at Dover was French customs, where my PCR test result and NHS Covid vaccination certificates on my phone were checked.  The sworn statement wasn’t asked for.  

When I arrived in France I was asked where I was going, did I have a second home and was I bringing in any money, all answered very quickly.

It was only on my return journey to the UK that I realised that my passport hadn’t been stamped [on my way into France], which disconcerted the French customs officer in Calais, but it clearly wasn’t my fault, so officially I haven’t travelled to the EU yet this year. 

After the disconcerted French customs officer, it was the turn of the P&O chap, who was very careful and seemed to be following unfamiliar instructions to the letter.  He wanted to see my passport, French PCR test result and NHS Covid certificate as well as my passenger locator form.  After that everything was as usual and there were no checks on arrival in the UK.

*

I visited France on May 19 using Brittany Ferries on the Portsmouth-Caen/Ouistreham route.

On the UK side, I had to produce a negative PCR test result. It was the same on the French side. I was also asked my reason for visiting France and cited the specific reason that I was going to complete the titre de séjour process.

From the house in France I visited Spain twice and on both occasions I was not stopped and questioned about my Covid status, either by the French or Spanish authorities.

I returned to the UK via the same ferry route yesterday (July 14) and again I had to supply a negative test certificate and passenger locator form. The French passport control were concerned about the length of time I’d stayed in France, until I supplied my carte de séjour.

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We travelled with DFDS on the Dover-Calais route to see our family in Le Crotoy (Somme) on July 14.

We arrived at Dover. First stop as usual was the French customs check.

Papers presented: Passport, Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate and rapid antigen Covid test certificate taken within the past 48 hours and showing a negative result.

Passport stamped.

Carried onto English Customs. Waved on.

Proceeded to car check and the car was randomly checked.

There was car registration recognition, so only needed to present passports.

We continued to the allotted lane and waited to board.

Travelling to France by road (within the EU)

Method of transport: Car, driver travelling alone Traveller status: UK passport holder and permanent resident in France

Both vaccinations (Pfizer) and a negative PCR test 48 hours before entering Italy. Completed Passenger Locator form

Border crossings: France to Italy on July 14, Italy to France July 22, both via the T4 Fréjus tunnel.

Controls and other checks:

France to Italy: none of any kind

Italy to France: none of any kind

No indication of any facility to do any checking in either France or Italy

*

I recently drove from France to Spain and then Spain to France, and there was no border control. No one asked me for a thing going either way.

*

We spent last weekend in Spain.

We drove across the border on the Perpignan - Barcelona autoroute on the morning of Saturday July 10, stayed the night in Roses (Catalonia) and then drove back to France on Sun July 11.

Despite our fears of long queues for border controls, there was nothing. Nothing at all. We drove across the border in both directions without even seeing any gendarmes/douanes.

There were no controls in Spain.

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