PCR tests to be free for tourists visiting France this summer

France is currently one of the only countries in Europe to provide free PCR tests for tourists. They can cost over €100 per test in other countries

17 May 2021
By Joanna York

Update: This article was updated on May 20 to remove a line stating that the EU Covid travel certificates will function with a PCR test taken within 48 hours of travelling as the details of these certificates are still being discussed by the EU.

PCR tests will be free to tourists visiting France this summer, European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune said yesterday (May 16).

The minister said that it would be in France’s interest to provide the tests, as it would help the country remain one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Europe. “For us it is an economic consideration,” he said.

Mr Beaune was speaking to Europe 1-CNews-Les Echos about travel in Europe this summer, including PCR testing and the planned EU digital green certificate for travel.

The travel certificates will help facilitate travel between countries in the EU by showing whether a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, had a recent PCR test that is negative, or has had Covid-19 within the past six months and therefore has built up a level of immunity. The details and practicalities of the certificates have not yet been fully worked out by the EU. 

PCR tests may also be required upon arrival in a destination country.

France to provide free tests for tourists, including second-home owners

Mr Beaune said that France would be one of the only European countries to make PCR tests free for tourists, including second-home owners, visiting France.

Tests have however not up to now been free at all providers in France, with some asking for payment for those not in the French Assurance Maldie system.

Read more: How to obtain a French test to return to the UK

In Sweden, PCR tests can cost up to €300.  

In the UK, people are not allowed to use free PCR tests provided by the national health service for travel purposes.  Instead, travellers to and from the UK must use tests provided by private firms with an average cost per test of £120.

In Spain, PCR tests can cost up to €120 even though the European Parliament has advised all EU countries to provide PCR tests for free.

Mr Beaune said, “I cannot say today whether all countries will do that.”

The option of a fixed price for PCR tests across all EU countries is also being considered.

Mr Beaune’s office later confirmed that it is too early to say the extent to which France will open to international tourism this summer, or how many tourists may visit France.

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