The French prime minister announced in July that all passengers from 16 named 'high risk' countries would need to take a Covid-19 test before being allowed into France.
That restriction was tightened further from the end of July for travellers from the USA, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Panama.
Travellers from those countries must present a negative result from a Covid-19 test, taken within the previous 72 hours, or they will not be permitted to board a plane.
The ruling applies to anyone travelling from the USA, including French residents and French citizens.
Travellers from the other 12 high risk countries – South Africa, Algeria, Brazil, India, Israel, Kuwait, Madagascar, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Serbia and Turkey – are advised to take the test before travelling, but can take the test at their French airport of arrival if they are unable to obtain one before they travel.
France's Foreign Ministry states: “Travellers aged 11 years or over departing from the United States to France must present, for all arrivals in France from Saturday, August 1st onwards, the result of a virological screening test carried out less than 72 hours before the flight that concludes that they are not contaminated by Covid-19.
“If they are unable to present this test, boarding will be denied.”
However the French embassy in the US later added an exemption clause for people who cannot get a test before travelling.
Testing facilities in the USA are still quite uneven and many people had reported difficulty in getting both the test and the result within the required 72 hours.
The French embassy in Washington DC added: “In certain exceptional and documented cases where it is not possible to get a test within the required time frame and there is a compelling reason to travel on the scheduled date, you can request a certificate of exemption from your nearest consulate.
“This exemption is a temporary measure and the consulate underscores the obligation to actively look for a PCR test before departure in order to avoid having to be tested at the airport on arrival and the resulting wait times. If you are not able to provide evidence of this test or a certificate of exemption, boarding will be denied.”
You can find more details on this exemption here.
Face à certaines difficultés pour obtenir dans les délais les résultats des tests PCR aux ??, vous pourrez désormais demander à votre consulat ? une attestation d’exemption ? pour les cas très exceptionnels seulement ?
Détails ici ⤵️ https://t.co/Nw08VCCESJ
— French Embassy U.S. (@franceintheus) August 11, 2020
Travel from these countries remains heavily restricted, so in practice the new rules will not affect many people, but certain groups are permitted to travel.
At present anyone travelling from within the EU, the UK, the Schengen zone or 10 'safe' countries can come to France for any reason.
The 'safe' countries are Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. China is also provisionally on the list, if reciprocity requirements are met.
For anyone travelling from other countries, including the USA, only essential travel is allowed.
The EU has released a list of types of travel which are counted as essential for people arriving into the bloc
People who can travel into the European bloc include:
- Citizens of an EU country
- Non EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home
- Healthcare workers engaged in crucial work on the coronavirus crisis
- Frontier workers and in some circumstances seasonal workers
- Delivery drivers
- Diplomats, humanitarian or aid workers
- Passengers in transit
- Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons
- Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons
- Third country nationals travelling for the purpose of study
- Highly qualified third-country workers IF their employment is essential from an economic perspective and cannot be postponed or performed abroad
Find more details on the exemptions here.
International students are permitted to travel and the French government says that it wants people who were due to start a course in France to still come.
Masks are obligatory for all over-11s on flights and in all French public spaces including airports.