Travel to and from France – what services are running?

Travel into France is currently highly restricted - but if you do have an essential reason for travel, what are your options?

Travel to and from France - what services are running?
Some services are still running, for those who have the correct paperwork. Photo: AFP

There aren't many people crossing the border into France at the moment, due to the strict travel rules that mean people are only allowed in for essential travel reasons – and only then if they have an international travel certificate.

Travel restrictions for people arriving from within Europe, including the UK, will be in place until at least June 15th, while for people arriving from outside Europe, the rule is in place “until further notice”.

READ ALSO When can I travel to France again?

But the rules do allow for certain types of travel so a few – a very few – services are still running.

Here's a guide to them.

Who can travel?

Firstly you need to know if you can travel.

The following groups of people are permitted to travel

  • French citizens. So if you went through the process of getting a French passport then you are clear to travel
  • People who have their permanent residence in France. This does not include second home owners, but does include anyone who is based here and who was either caught abroad at the start of the lockdown or who has had to travel since. Likewise people who are now in France but who live full time in another country are allowed to return home.
  • People who have their permanent residency in another European country and are travelling through France to get home
  • Healthcare workers engaged in coronavirus-related care
  • Commercial good carriers such as lorry drivers and flight or cargo crews
  • Diplomatic staff
  • Cross-border workers. So for example if you live in France but work in Switzerland you can still travel back and forth.

It's not on the form, but French authorities have said that moving house – if it is urgent and cannot be postponed – counts as a reason for essential travel. So if you are moving to France and genuinely cannot postpone the move, then you are permitted to travel.

Everyone travelling needs to fill in an attestation de déplacement internationale – find the form here and non-Europeans who are travelling back to their permanent residency in France need proof of their residency status – a visa or titre de séjour.

European citizens, including British people, do not need proof, but if you are a French resident but not French it would be a good idea to have proof of address such as a utility bill just to be on the safe side.

How can you travel?

There are no specific rules in place covering the type of travel into France, no flights bans for example, so how you travel depends purely on availability.

Flights – there are currently not many of these running. If you're coming from outside the Schengen Zone, Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne last week confirmed that there are “virtually no flights” coming into France from outside Europe since the country's repatriation programme of its citizens abroad ended.

If you're flying inside Europe there are a few more choices, with Air France running a skeleton service on both international and domestic flights. Ryanair announced on Tuesday that it plans to have 40 percent of its normal flights back by July. 

In Paris Charles de Gaulle airport is still open, but Orly has been closed since March.

Ferries – On ferries skeleton services are running on P&O Ferries, but Brittany Ferries are running freight services only.

Eurostar – trains are still running but on a skeleton service – one train a day between London and Paris with no departures from Ashford, Ebbsfleet, Calais or Lille. Wearing a mask is compulsory on all services.

Eurotunnel – for people travelling to and from the UK, this is the favoured transport method, since it allows you to stay in your car and not come into contact with other travellers. Because of its substantial freight shipping element, the tunnel has been running regular services throughout the lockdown and now there is a passenger service roughly every hour.

Drive – if you're in a country bordering France you can drive over the border, although some countries – including Switzerland – have reduced the number of crossing points. Check with the authorities in the country you are driving from.

International travel certificates are likely to be inspected when boarding transport services to France, as well as at the French border.

There is currently no requirement for extra paperwork at the UK border.







Member comments

  1. Read somewhere that asylum seekers were about to be added to the list. Travelling to seek asylum is considered ‘essential’ by certain elements in the government. It looks like sanity has prevailed.

  2. I am in France and want to cross the border to Switzerland to access Geneva airport and catch a flight home.
    Can I cross the border with a valid passport and confirmed airline reservation >>

  3. I am a dual French-American citizen living in the US. I need to travel to Paris to care for my ailing mother and would like my American husband to travel with me. Can American citizens married to French nationals enter the country?

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EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Two major changes that were due to come into force in 2022 for travellers entering the EU - an enhanced passport scanning system and the introduction of a €7 visa for tourists - have been delayed for a year.

EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Although both the EES and ETIAS schemes are still due to be introduced in the European Commission has pushed back the start dates for both until 2023.

It comes amid a chaotic summer for travel in Europe, with airports struggling with staff shortages and strikes while some crossings from the UK to France have been hit by long delays as extra post-Brexit checks are performed during the peak holiday season. 

The two separate changes to travel in the EU and Schengen zone were originally due to come into effect in 2020, but were delayed because of the pandemic. Now the EES system is expected to come into effect in May 2023, while ETIAS will come into effect in November 2023. 

The EES – Entry and Exit System – is essentially enhanced passport scanning at the EU’s borders and means passports will not only be checked for ID and security, but also for entry and exit dates, in effect tightening up enforcement of the ’90 day rule’ that limits the amount of time non-EU citizens can spend in the Bloc without having a visa.

It will not affect non-EU citizens who live in an EU country with a residency permit or visa.

There have been concerns that the longer checks will make transiting the EU’s external borders slower, a particular problem at the UK port of Dover, where the infrastructure is already struggling to cope with enhanced post-Brexit checks of people travelling to France.

You can read a full explanation of EES, what it is and who is affects HERE.

The ETIAS system will apply to all non-EU visitors to an EU country – eg tourists, second-home owners, those making family visits and people doing short-term work.

It will involve visitors registering in advance for a visa and paying a €7 fee. The visa will be valid for three years and can be used for multiple trips – essentially the system is very similar to the ESTA visa required for visitors to the USA. 

Residents of an EU country who have a residency card or visa will not need one.

You can read the full details on ETIAS, how it works and who it affects HERE.

Both systems will apply only to people who do not have citizenship of an EU country – for example Brits, Americans, Australians and Canadians – and will be used only at external EU/Schengen borders, so it won’t be required when travelling between France and Germany, for example.