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What are the rules for holiday travel from South Africa to France?

South Africa is on France’s amber list. We explain what is required for visiting adults and children

Travellers visiting France from South Africa must observe the various restrictions in place Pic: OlegRi / Shutterstock

We are planning a trip for a family skiing holiday from our home in South Africa to France. What rules must we follow to enter the country? We are vaccinated but have children and the rules in south Africa currently only allow one vaccination

South Africa is currently on France’s amber travel list and fully vaccinated adults are not subject to any restrictions to travel to the country. 

Read more: Recap: France’s current traffic light travel restrictions explained

Travellers must, however, be able to show proof of having been fully vaccinated at least seven days before (28 days before in the case of the Janssen jab) by a European Medicines Agency-approved vaccine. 

These are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca. France also accepts the Covishield AstraZeneca jabs manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. 

They must also present a sworn statement (engagement sur l’honneur) confirming that they are not experiencing any Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with a confirmed case within the last 14 days. 

This form can be found at the bottom of the French Interior Ministry website amber country section. 

Unvaccinated people must have a compelling reason to enter France, normally relating to their right to live, work or study there and not including tourism. Possible essential reasons are detailed in the Interior Ministry’s ‘travel certificate to metropolitan France’ (attestation d’entrée sur le territoire métropolitain), which you must complete. 

This also includes an undertaking to carry out a random Covid test on arrival in France if required and a promise to self-isolate for seven days. 

Every traveller over the age of 12 must also present a negative PCR test taken in the 72 hours before their journey begins or a negative antigen test taken in the last 48 hours. 

Children 

South Africa is offering 12 to 17-year-olds only a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine so they will not be classed as fully vaccinated under the rules in France where over-12s can receive both doses and are only considered fully vaccinated when they have had both. 

However, non-fully vaccinated children travelling with fully vaccinated adults automatically count as being vaccinated and so are exempt from having to present an essential reason or quarantine. 

They will nonetheless need to take a Covid test before departure for France, in the same way as unvaccinated adults. 

The ‘unvaccinated’ status of 12 to 17-year-olds will though mean that they cannot use their vaccination certificates to obtain a French health pass once they arrive in the country. 

The health pass is needed to access a range of public spaces and services, including restaurants, bars, museums and theme parks, and is normally presented through a QR code in the TousAntiCovid app. 

This 72-hour-long pass can also be generated using the negative result of a Covid test taken in a French pharmacy or other medical centre, and this may be the best option for foreign under-18s visiting France. 

Antigen tests are available in most pharmacies – many of which accept walk-ins – and cost between €20 and €30. 

The results will normally be sent to you via text or email, and will contain a QR code that can be uploaded to the TousAntiCovid app and used as a health pass for the next three days. 

However, for longer stays, the child will have to repeat this process several times. 

Fully vaccinated adults from non-EU countries including South Africa had previously been able to request the conversion of their vaccination certificates to a health pass QR code online. 

However, now, they must visit one of a list of participating French pharmacies – including one in Charles de Gaulle Airport – with their passport and vaccination documents to request their code. 

Read more: France suspends online form for non-EU health pass QR codes

This comes at a cost of up to €36. 

The vaccination certificate presented must contain the person’s name, date of birth, vaccination date(s), number of doses and the country in which they were received.

Leaving France 

Fully vaccinated people and their children do not need an essential reason to leave metropolitan France. 

Unvaccinated adults should demonstrate these pressing grounds (one of which is returning to your country of residence so visitors should not be prevented from leaving French territory). 

These travellers must present a negative test result from the last 72 hours before boarding their flight back to South Africa, according to the country’s entry requirements. 

Related stories 

Covid tests imposed in Paris for unvaccinated Eurostar arrivals

French ski stations celebrate snowfall: Opening dates and rules

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