UPDATED: When will Americans be able to travel to France again?

UPDATED: When will Americans be able to travel to France again?
Photo: Ian Lagnsden/AFP
After more than a year of closed borders, the French president has finally laid out a date from which travel from the USA can restart - there are some conditions though.

When outlining the timetable for the reopening of France, president Emmanuel Macron included one date for international travel – from June 9th all types of travel, including tourism, can restart from countries outside the EU.

However, there are some caveats to this:

Firstly, the June 9th date is step 3 of France’s reopening plan, and there is still an option to delay each phase if the health situation deteriorates once other aspects of life in France open up.

Secondly, travel will be conditional on a pass sanitaire – a health passport giving either the vaccine certificate of each traveller or a recent negative Covid test for those who cannot be vaccinated.

Thirdly, France is currently on the US State Department’s list of ‘Level 4’ countries, where travel is advised against because of the health situation. This is a recommendation only, but travelling to a Level 4 country can invalidate travel insurance, so check your policy. 

Full details of exactly how the health pass will work have not yet been released, but here’s what we know.

Until at least June 9th, the current rules remain in place.

So what are the rules now for Americans?

Firstly, the travel rules are based around where you are coming from, not what passport you hold. So a US citizen travelling from Spain, for example, would be permitted to enter France.

Secondly there are exemptions in place for certain types of travel.

But for tourists and second-home owners travelling from the USA, the French borders remain closed.

It’s also worth pointing out that the US State Department has placed France on its list of ‘Level 4’ countries, where travel is advised against. This is a recommendation only, but travel to a Level 4 destination can invalidate your travel insurance.

Essential travel

The only exceptions to the travel ban are people with motif imperiéux (compelling/essential reasons) for travel.

The full list of reasons are;

Family reasons

  • The death of a parent, grandparent, child or sibling or visit to one of these family members who has received a terminal medical diagnosis (death certificate or doctor’s letter will be needed)
  • Childcare by a parent or guardian with custody or visitation rights (court letter and proof of address)
  • Providing vital assistance to a sick or disabled person (document establishing relationship)
  • Travel for legal or judicial reasons (letter or summons)
  • A legal or economic reason that makes it impossible to remain in the country you are travelling from eg the expiry of a residency card 
  • Travel for reasons of personal safety eg domestic violence or custody dispute (any documentation relating to the situation)
  • Returning to your main residence from a trip that began before January 31st (proof of residency eg carte de séjour, receipt of application for carte de séjour or proof of address, plus tickets showing your outward journey)
  • Students beginning or ending a period of study (documentation from the place of study)

Health reasons

  • Medical emergency (one person can accompany the sick person if necessary, doctor’s letter or hospital appointment card)

Work-related reasons

  • Vital work requiring an in-person presence where the work cannot be cancelled or postponed without disproportionate consequences (attestation from employer plus professional card if applicable)
  • Health professionals engaged in Covid-related work (professional ID)
  • Diplomatic or state work trips which cannot be cancelled or postponed (professional ID and/or letters from relevant ministers)
  • High-level sports professionals participating in fixtures approved by the sports minister (professional ID and documentation from the sports ministry)

From March 12th, some extra exemptions were added to this list. They are;

  • Couples who are married or in a civil partnership where one of the members is living abroad for professional reasons
  • Minor children attending school in France while the family home is established abroad
  • Couples with children, one living in France, the other abroad and separated.
  • Students taking a competitive examination
  • Returning to a main residence in France

These rules concern travel both in and out of France, so anyone wanting to leave France and travel to the USA will also need a vital reason.

Travel rules

Those who do fit one of these categories will need to plan their journey carefully, however.

The major requirement is a negative Covid-19 test result – this must be a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before travel.

Anyone who does not have the test result will be denied boarding and it cannot be taken in the airport or on arrival in France.

This rule applies to everyone travelling from the USA, including French residents and French citizens.

You will also need to fill in an attestation stating the purpose of your trip, with supporting documents if necessary. You can find the form HERE.

Finally, check carefully with your airline on any extra rules, especially around masks. Some airlines specify that medical-grade masks must be worn and you can be denied boarding if you turn up at the airport without the correct type of mask.

On arrival in France you are requested to isolate for seven days. This can be done at a location of your choice including your home or the home of friends or relatives. The quarantine is run on an “honour” system, so there will be no checks carried out.

After seven days, arrivals from the USA are asked to take a second Covid test – find details on how to access tests in France HERE.

French rules

Once in France you will of course need to abide by the French health restrictions.

These are updated regularly, you can find the latest on our homepage HERE, but include the compulsory wearing of masks, including outdoors, an evening curfew and closure of some services. French police have the right to stop anyone in the street to check they are complying with the health restrictions, and issue €135 fines if they are not. 

Member comments

  1. Shan,
    France is under lockdown still and to travel you need an attestation stating your reason to travel. The lockdown has a 10K limit on how far one can go and there is a 1900-0600 curfew. The attestation has the exceptions for travel listed, but tourism is not one of them. If one has a primary residence in France (you must show this), then they would be allowed entry but if you do not, I do not think you will be allowed entry.

  2. What if one is a USA Green Card older and is selling their house in the USA.
    Traveling on a UK passport.
    And has left the USA for more than a year?
    Can one then fly to USA, take their chances at the border then in a month fly back using one’s Titre de Sejour?
    Complicated? 🙂

  3. My wife and I have been waiting to get to our new home in France since April 2020. We sold our home ,car ,furniture and had shipped the rest and now we are forced to rent until we can apply for a long stay visa. We are willing to take and test , do any quarantine just to get to our new home.

    1. We are Americans and have lived in France (it is our primary residence) for going on five years. The first long-stay visa you get must be applied for in the US at your regional French consulate. Once you are here you re-apply yearly until you qualify for a 10-year residence card. I’m pretty sure the rules have not changed. You can look at both the consulate website and the website for the required forms, fees and info.

  4. I’m hoping (since I already bought plane tickets to France for this coming October) that once enough people are vaccinated that restrictions on travel from the US to France will be lifted.

  5. The problem with antibody tests is the false postive for antibodies. For example, a test that is 95% specific will have 5% false positive. If the prevalence of immunity is 10 % (current estimates) than of positive tests 5/15 will be false positive – 33%. Not good enough. If test is better –99%– than 1/11 will be false postive, 9%. If you are 80, with 16-20% mortality from coronavirus, that’s probably not good enough.

  6. Shan-were you able to travel from the UK to France via the Eurostar as an American citizen? I’d like to do the same…

  7. I am reading “your document proving permanent residency” for France in order to travel there from another country. I’m American, what document is this? Are you talking about your carte de sejour? I have never heard of a permanent residence doc. Please explain.
    Thank you.

    1. It would be a carte de séjour which tou need to apply foe before
      Leaving the USA it’s a longish process and can be costly depending on your budget but I did mine a long time ago and I choose to renew each year one can of one is a full time tax paying french resident get a 10 year card after 5 years
      I’ve been living in both countries USA / France since 2001.

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