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
[Update December 1, 2021: Please note that due to the emergence of the Omicron variant, France has suspended flights to and from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and Namibia until Saturday at the earliest. When flights resume there will be "reinforced" testing and isolation restrictions in place for travellers. Mauritius, Zambia and Malawi have also been added to a new scarlet red list, which includes all the south African countries as well.]
Rules for France-UK and UK-France travel
The UK has simplified its former 'traffic light' system for Covid risk and now has just two 'red' and 'non-red' list of countries. France comes under the 'non-red' category.
The French government says that fully vaccinated people can travel from France to the UK for any reason.
However, those not fully vaccinated can only leave for an essential reason and must complete a Certificate to leave Metropolitan France (attestation de sortie du territoire métropolitain).
The UK government also states that before leaving France everyone must fill in a UK passenger locator form if over the age of 18.
You can find the form on the UK government's website here. This must be done within 48 hours prior to leaving France. The details of under-18s (under-16s for Scotland) who will be staying at the same UK address can be added to their parent or guardian's form.
Fully vaccinated travellers to the UK do not need to take a pre-departure Covid test.
book and pay in-advance for a test to be taken on or before day two after arriving (the arrival day is day zero).
From 04:00 on Tuesday, November 30, all international arrivals to the UK, regardless of vaccination status or country of departure, must take a PCR test on or before day two of their arrival in the UK, and must self-isolate until they receive a negative result. Results can take at least 24 hours, and sometimes longer, to come back.
Previously, it was possible to take a lateral flow test on day two, but the rules have changed due to the emergence of the new Omicron variant of concern.
- fill in your passenger locator form (for over 18s only, details above).
The UK accepts vaccination certificates from EU countries including France and from America for entry into the country.
Those not fully vaccinated:
All travellers must:
- fill in their passenger locator form (if over 18).
- 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.
- have proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours before departure.
- book and pay in advance for two further PCR tests to be taken on or before day two and on or after day eight after arriving. Please note that under-fives do not need to take any tests, while five to 17-year-olds who are resident in the UK or another country with approved proof of vaccination can skip the pre-departure test.
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.
Fully vaccinated people: The UK is on France's amber list, meaning that vaccinated people are free to travel there for non-essential reasons such as holidays or visits to your second home. You do not have to quarantine on arrival.
Before you travel, you must present to the UK travel company:
- proof of your vaccination status
- a completed ‘sworn statement’ (engagement sur l’honneur, on the French government website here) form self-certifying that you are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight.
On the above page, you can choose to view a British version of the rules in place. Make sure you have selected the section regarding amber list countries and then scroll down to Part 2.
As you are already vaccinated, you do not need to fill in the travel certificate including under 'Mobility Rules and Regulations'. However, you do need to complete the sworn statement form sitting in the 'Health Control Measures' section.
Non-fully vaccinated adults: You can only enter France if you have an essential reason. Most essential reasons involve you having the right to live or work in France but also include the need to enter the country because of the death of a close family member, a university exchange programme, emergency medical treatment or professional sports commitments.
Unvaccinated adults entering France from the UK must also:
- present a negative Covid test taken less than 24 hours before departure.
- complete a sworn statement. This is as above, but also includes a promise to self-isolate for one week and to take a Covid test on arrival in the country, if asked to do so.
- self-isolate for seven days upon arrival at a place of your choice. At the end of this time, you must take a PCR test and return a negative result to be able to leave your isolation.
Children: Unvaccinated children aged 12 or over who are travelling alone to France are subject to the same rules as adults and must present a negative test result, Travel Certificate and sworn statement, and quarantine on arrival.
Those who are aged 12 and over but are travelling with a fully vaccinated adult must take a test and complete a sworn statement about symptoms and contacts before beginning their journey to France but do not need to comply with the other conditions. Under-12s do not have to take a test.
When returning to the UK, children aged four and under are not subject to any restrictions, while five to 17-year-olds who are resident in the UK or another country with an approved vaccination programme are exempt from taking a pre-departure test. They must, however, carry out a day two test after arriving in the UK.
The test requirement only applies to 11 to 17-year-olds when travelling to Scotland.
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 daycare or school for 14 days.
Unvaccinated children between the ages of 12 to 17 and dependent children 18 or older (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 green 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.
Non-fully vaccinated people: You must present proof of recovery from Covid within the last six months or a negative PCR or rapid antigen Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of travelling. You must also complete a sworn statement that you do not have symptoms of Covid-19 nor contact with someone with a confirmed case of Covid-19.
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 above the age of two must present the negative result of a Covid test taken in the 72 before their flight departs, with most unvaccinated passengers having to take their test in the 24 hours before departure.
Everyone must provide the airline with certain information for contact tracing purposes.
Fully vaccinated people: The US is on France's amber list. This means that people who have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine accepted by France will not be subject to restrictions on entering the country. The US government classes France as a country at risk level three of four: while there is no ban on travel, the official advice is: "Reconsider 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.
The US Embassy in France states: "French authorities have been accepting the CDC card as acceptable evidence of vaccination for entry into France, but it is not accepted as a French health pass required for domestic travel within France or to enter cultural sites, museums, theatres, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cafes, athletic facilities, medical offices and hospitals (except for emergencies), retirement homes, and some other facilities."
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 test in the 72 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 seven 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.
Non-fully vaccinated people: You must present proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen Covid-19 test taken within 72 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 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: You must present proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of travelling.
A Covid-19 test of less than 24 hours is required from France for travellers coming from Germany, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania.
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
- Does not apply to HGV drivers who are crossing for border for work
- Does not apply to people who live within 30km of the border
- Does not apply to 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.
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 only 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.
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:
- Carry out 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.
- Fill out 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 only 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 recognize 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).