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Travel in France

Covid-19 - Travel to and from France

Wednesday 08 September 2021

Covid cases are falling in France and over two-thirds of the population have been vaccinated, but the use of a health passport is essential for international travel and in internal public spaces. 

Latest figures from the French government show that nearly 50 million inhabitants (73% of the population) have received at least one injection and nearly 46 million two jabs.

There have been an average of around 13,000 new cases per day over the past 7 days, a reduction of a quarter on the previous week.

The percentage number testing positive is 2.15% and the infection rate averages 138 inhabitants per 100,000 population.

Hospital admissions are averaging around 4,000 a week of which slightly under 1,000 are admitted to a critical care ward.

Deaths in hospital average 94 per day.

There remain significant variations between departments, with Provence Cote d'Azur (and overseas territories) worst affected.

For a regular update on cases and the position in all departments you can refer to Covid Tracker.

COVID 19 - Travel to France from UK

Since 8th July the British government have advised that it no longer advises against all but essential travel to France.

Since 8th August, for visitors from England, it has no longer be necessary to quarantine when returning from France, provided you have been fully vaccinated. Scotland and Northern Ireland have followed suit. Fully vaccinated' meant at least 14 days before return to the UK, and of the same vaccine.

More information from the UK government can be found at France Travel Advice.

On the French side of the Channel, the French government state that:

'If you are already vaccinated, you must present proof of vaccination status and a sworn statement attesting to the absence of symptoms of covid-19 infection and contact with a confirmed case of covid-19.

If you are not vaccinated, you must present to the transport company and border control authorities a certificate of recovery older than eleven days and less than six months or a negative PCR or antigen test not older than 72 hours before departure (departure of first flight in the event of a connecting flights). Some countries in the European area have been placed under surveillance.

Children under the age of twelve are exempt from testing.

You must also present a sworn statement attesting to the absence of symptoms of covid-19 infection and contact with a confirmed case of covid-19.'

European visitors and those from those countries classed as “green” — USA, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand and Singapore — no longer need to undergo testing if they’re vaccinated. If not vaccinated you will a negative PCA or rapid antigen Covid test no more than 72 hours before travelling. No quarantine rules apply. You will need to supply the sworn statement (see below).

For visitors from England, the vaccination certificate is available on the NHS App. Alternatively, you can download it from the NHS website. It is also possible to obtain a paper certificate from the NHS website. The NHS app is compatible with the French TousAntiCovid app so you can upload your NHS QR code to it. See below. Different arrangements apply for NI, Wales and Scotland.

The list of 'compelling' reasons still in force for those who are not vaccinated are:

1. French citizens, their spouses (married, civil union and cohabiting) and their children.

2. Citizens of the European Union or equivalent, their spouse (married, civil union or cohabiting partner) and their children, whose main residence is in France or who are in transit through France on the return trip to their main residence in a European Union country or equivalent or to a country whose nationality they hold;

3. Citizens of other countries with a valid French or European residence permit or long-stay visa, whose main residence is in France or who are in transit through France on the return trip to their main residence in a European Union country or similar country.

4. British citizens and their family members who are eligible under the agreement for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.

5. Citizens of other countries holding a long-stay visa issued for the purpose of family reunion or reunification of refugee families, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection and stateless persons.

6. Foreign health or research professionals engaged in the fight against COVID-19, their spouse (married, civil partner, cohabiting partner upon presentation of proof of community of life) and their children.

6bis. Foreign health or research professional engaged as an associate trainee.

7. Citizens of other countries with a “Passeport Talent” (talent passport) long-stay visa (LSV), their spouse (married, civil union or cohabiting partner upon presentation of proof of cohabitation) and their children.

8. Students enrolled in French as a foreign language (FLE) courses prior to enrolment in a higher education institution, or who have passed the oral examinations in French higher education institutions or enrolled to start the 2021-2022 academic year. Researchers settling in France on invitation by a research laboratory, for research activities requiring physical presence, their spouse (married, civil union, cohabiting partner on presentation of proof of community of life) and their children.

9. Workers in the land, sea and air transport sector or transport service providers, including drivers of any vehicle carrying goods for use in the territory, as well as those merely transiting or travelling as passengers in order to establish themselves or train at their home base.

10. Foreign citizens working for a diplomatic or consular mission, or an international organisation with its headquarters or an office in France, as well as their spouse and their children or a foreign citizen of a third country staying in France for a compelling professional reason under a mission order issued by their country of origin;

11. Traveller in transit in the international zone for less than 24 hours. So you can travel through France to another country, provided you remain less than 24 hours in France.

12. British officials discharging their duties, border police officers and customs officers.

13. Channel Tunnel staff (engaged inter alia in operations, maintenance, security) or cross-Channel facilities staff.

Full details and the documentation required is given at Certificate of International Travel.

If you have a compelling reason, you are required to provide a sworn statement:

  • Certifying you are showing no symptoms and absence of any contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19;
  • To agree undergo further testing on arrival if asked to do so;
  • To agree to voluntarily self-isolate for seven days and to undergo a PCR Covid test at the end of the isolation period (if demanded).

You can find the documentation at: Certificate of International Travel.

For those aged 11 years and above, you need to produce a PCR Covid test carried out less than 48 hours before boarding, showing negative.

You can read more in English about travel in France from the French government website at: Advice for Foreign Nationals in France.

Those coming from the UK should also read the guidance from the French Embassy in London at: COVID-19: Rules for Travel to France and the UK.

Covid 19 Travel Within France

Since 6th June, for those who have been vaccinated in France, a health pass (pass sanitaire) has been in use in France for international travel beyond France and large events of 1,000+ in France etc.

In July the use of the pass become mandatory for access to cinemas, festivals, museums, attraction parks and since August it has also applied to cafes, bars and restaurants and for long-distance travel by train or bus. You should make the automatic assumption that a face mask is required and should therefore be carried at all times.

In effect, the government is now making the health pass obligatory for access to all public spaces, although from 8th Sept due to the decline in the rate of infection in most departments, the obligatory use of the pass is being lifted in large shopping centres. Its use will, for the time being, continue to remain obligatory in the departments of Hérault, Rhône and Seine-Saint-Denis. Var, Vaucluse, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône and Gard.

The health pass is not required for children under 12 years of age, but from the end of Sept it will be required for children aged at least 12 years.

Separately, the compulsory wearing of a mask in external areas (as well as in internal areas) is becoming more widespread in France, notably Pyrénées Orientales, Charente Maritime, Pas de Calais, Ariège, Hérault, and Ille-et-Vilaine.

The health pass is available on the 'TousAntiCovid' mobile app and will become essential for the foreseeable future. The app shows your vaccination, proof of negative PCR and whether you have had Covid. The app is available in the English language. Your vaccination certificate should contain a QR code that you can use for the app, which will then show your vaccination details.

If you cannot use the QR code, or you do not have one on your certificate, you can obtain a paper version Portail SI-DEPif you have not already been provided with them. We recommend you carry both the digital and paper versions with you.

Separately, from the pass sanitaire, if you wish to go to a restaurant or bar etc and sit inside, using the TousAntiCovid app you will be required to scan a QR that will enable you to be contacted. The process can also be undertaken non-digitally. The registration process is called le cahier de rappel numérique/papier.

As to the application of the health pass on foreign visitors, those from the EU should have a compatible certificate and those from outside of the EU should find they can use the documentation from their home country. The UK government have stated that: 'For those visiting France after being vaccinated in England, the French government has confirmed that you will be able to demonstrate that you are fully vaccinated either by presenting your NHS certificate through the NHS App, by downloading or printing the document, or by presenting your NHS letter. You can also download the French 'TousAntiCovid' app and scan the QR code of your digital NHS certificate.'

You can read more on the website of the UK French Consulate at Pass Sanitaire et Vaccination au Royaume Uni.

A list of centres where you can obtain a PCR/rapid antigen test can be found at Depistage Covid. The tests are available to foreign visitors, for a charge for €49 for a PCR and €29 for an antigen test. From autumn, the tests will also no longer be free for residents, except where required for medical reasons eg contact with someone who is positive. In that case, visitors can use their EHIC/GHIC.

Covid 19 - Travel to Europe from Europe

If you are travelling to France from elsewhere in Europe (including Andorra, the Holy See, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland), you are permitted to do so without controls if you are vaccinated, although you will need to complete a sworn declaration. If not, you are subject to the PCR test, a sworn declaration and 7 days self-isolation.

The EU has introduced an EU wide vaccination certificate protocol. It is not compulsory to use for EU residents, but travel across borders and at airports is likely to be easier with it. If you do not have it you will need to comply with local testing and quarantine restrictions and travel across borders may be more complicated.

French vaccination certificates issued since 25th June are EU compliant. If you have a certificate dated before this date you can import and download the EU certificate from the 'TousAntiCovid' app, although you should receive an update for the French version if you have already have it on your phone. You can also obtain it from your local surgery or vaccination centre or by connecting to Attestation de vaccination contre la Covid‑19 using your 'France Connect' access codes which offer an EU compatible hard copy certificate.

Digital (QR code) or paper versions are available, but use of the digital version will ease potential delays at airports etc. That said, you would probably be best advised to carry both the digital and paper versions with you.

Although the EU certificate is effective from 1st July, some delays in implementation across Europe can be expected.

You would be best advised to check with the authorities in the country you propose to visit any particular requirements that are in place.

Covid 19 - Travel to France from Other Countries

The rules vary but you can find details at Advice for Foreign Nationals in France.

Covid 19 - Travel to UK from France

If you are able to travel to France from the UK, you need to complete the process below for your return to the UK.

If you live in France and you are a UK national and you wish to visit the UK, you are free to do so. The French government state: 'no foreign citizen wishing to return to their country of residence or origin will be prevented from leaving France (without no guarantee, however, of being able to return without a compelling reason).'

You will need a Certificate of international travel.

For the UK border control authorities you will also need:

  • A negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of the return to the UK, which must be in English. You must also take a second one two days after arriving.
  • Completion of a Contact Locator form.
  • On 4th August the UK government announced that quarantine would no longer be necessary for vaccinated individuals effective 8th Aug. If you are not fully vaccinated, you must quarantine for 10 days when you return from France during which you will need to take two Covid tests on day 2 and 8 of the quarantine, although it is possible to take a test to release' kit and shorten the period.

If not a UK national, you will need a compelling reason and completion of the standard form above.

Covid 19 - France Travel Updates

You can sign up for UK government updates on travel to France at: Foreign Travel Sign-Up.

You can find regular French government updates in English of travel restrictions in France at: Covid-19 News.

30th June 2021

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