Can British nationals be blood donors in France?

The Local
The Local - [email protected]
Can British nationals be blood donors in France?

France is changing its rule on blood donors, lifting a decades old and 'absurd' ban on gay men donating, but one group remains barred - Brits.


The French blood donation service Établissement français du sang (EFS) is always on the lookout for donors and issues regular appeals for people to give blood.

But if you are British, your blood might not be welcome.

In general, the service is looking for donors in good health, aged between 18 and 70 and weighing at least 50kg.

But there are also a number of things that disqualify you from giving blood - and spending time in Britain is one of them.

On the list of exclusions, the French service includes anyone who has "stays in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996 of a cumulative duration of more than one year".

Which would obviously discount a lot of Brits, as well as anyone non-British who lived, studied or worked there during that period.

The reason for the exclusion is the BSE crisis, or la maladie de la vache folle (mad cow disease) as the French site refers to it.

The neurological condition BSE was reported in cattle in the UK in the 1980s and 90s, which resulted in a 10-year EU ban on beef exports from the UK.

There was a mall cull of British cows in an attempt to contain the BSE crisis. Photo: AFP

In total 4 million cows were slaughtered in the UK in an attempt to contain the crisis, while 177 people died of  variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease after eating infected beef.

France maintained its own ban on British beef for significantly longer than the EU, and seems to be taking a similarly cautious note in its stance on blood donors.


British people who lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996 of course can and do give blood in the UK.

However from March 2022, France will lift exclusions on gay men giving blood, saying the rule was no longer necessary and was unfair.

Other exclusions include certain health conditions or regular medication, recent tattoos or acupuncture treatments or recent trips to certain tropical countries. See the full list here.

Blood donors in France are not paid but you do get a free snack after donating. Plus, obviously, the priceless knowledge that you may have just saved someone's life.

If you want to donate and fit the criteria, you can find a map here of don de sang (blood donation) sessions in your area. If you are registering as a new donor you will need to take ID with you.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

Grabyrdy 2022/01/19 17:47
The BSE thing is just barmy.

See Also