UPDATE: Your questions answered about international travel to and from France

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UPDATE: Your questions answered about international travel to and from France
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We've received many questions about the rules about travel to and from France. Here's what we know following the new announcements by President Emmanuel Macron.


You can find a newer version of this article HERE.




Is travel between France and other EU countries (including UK) allowed? 

Not yet. 

Macron said on November 24th that France's lockdown would end on December 15th if daily infections remain below 5,000 and pressure is eased on hospitals.

That means that before December 15th there will be no change in the rules of travel to and from France.

So essentially it's not allowed unless travellers meet one of the strict criteria listed on the exemption certificates (attestation de déplacement dérogatoire) that people in France must carry whenever they leave the home.

Valid reasons include for work or vital family motives, for example looking after a sick relative. But this does not include a regular family visit. Travel to second homes does not count as essential. Leaving France to go back to your home country, or indeed any country, just to visit family or friends is not permitted.

This rule has been in place since the start of the second lockdown on October 30th.

While France's borders with EU and Schengen-area countries (including UK) have officially remained open, the second lockdown meant tourism to France has been banned as has non-essential visits to family members. 


And after December 15th?

If all goes to plan, then lockdown would end and along with it the exemption certificates on December 15th. That would mean non-essential travel from within the EU, the UK and Schengen area would once again be permitted.

So tourist, family visits and trips to second homes in France would again be permitted.

However travellers would be advised to check the conditions and rules of travel from their home country regarding France. For example the UK is still advising against all non-essential travel abroad which impacts travel insurance policies.

Many countries also have rules in place regarding arrivals from France.

The UK requires anyone arriving into the country from France to quarantine. However the period of quarantine will be cut to five days from 14 after December 15th - if travellers take a test which they may have to pay for.

If you are returning to the UK, you will also need to fill in the quarantine locator form before you re-enter the country. You can find this form HERE.

Can we go skiing to France?

Don't plan your skiing holidays just yet.

France's ski resorts, among the most popular in Europe, will not be allowed to reopen in time for the year-end holiday season, Macron said on Tuesday.

The president said coronavirus risks made it "impossible" to allow winter sports to resume quickly.

Macron said he would consult with his European partners to coordinate start dates for the winter season.

It was preferable, Macron said, to plan for a re-opening of the resorts in January "under favourable conditions". He promised an update with 10 days.

I am a French resident currently abroad, can I come back?

If you live in France but find yourself in a different EU country at the moment and want to come back, you are allowed to do so.

Anyone returning to France before December 15th must furnish a normal attestation, the one you use when leaving your home, and tick the box marked "vital family reasons."

Can I leave France to go back to my home country?

If you are normally resident in another country and were in France when lockdown came in, then you are allowed to go home even before the end of lockdown.

You don't need any special paperwork to leave the country before December 15th, but for your trip through France to the airport/port you will need an attestation - you can find that HERE

Travel home is not a listed category, so tick the box for déplacements pour motif familial impérieux (urgent family reasons) and if you like you can also write on the form Je rentre au Royaume-Uni/ aux Etas-Uni en voiture / par avion (aeroport de: ville) / par train - I am returning to the UK/ the USA by car/ by air (name the airport you are flying from) / by train - or just have this phrase ready to explain to a gendarme if necessary.


Can I go to my second home in France?

As during the first lockdown the ministry of interior has made it clear that travelling to second homes is forbidden for both French nationals and those coming from abroad.

In other words it's not a valid reason for travel. As mentioned above if all goes to plan then the travel to second homes will be allowed once lockdown ends on December 15th.

Can I move to France right now?

"Moving house will also be authorised (...), obviously with proof from the removal company, during this period of confinement," said the French Prime Minister at the beginning of the second lockdown.

Proof of purchase of the house, or some other official document should be enough.

However there are conditions, for example you won't be able to move with the help of your friends if you had been planning to.

Read more on moving house in lockdown HERE.

Do we need any special forms to travel through France?

No special forms to travel through France have been issued for the moment. Before December 15th you will need to fill out the normal permission form and state your reason for going through France. If your travel is not essential, you could face a €135 fine.

To access or download the form CLICK HERE.

And what about travel from outside the EU?

Nothing has changed on this front in recent weeks. Essentially France's external borders like those of the EU are closed to all non-essential travellers from outside the EU/ Schengen area apart from those on an ever-shortening list of safe countries.

Anyone travelling into France from outside the EU needs an attestation de déplacement international dérogatoire (the international exemption certificate), which is required for those travelling in from outside the EU-Schengen area.

The UK is considered as an EU country until December 31st but it is still not clear what will happen in January when the Brexit transition period ends and the UK becomes a non-EU country.

A spokesperson for the European Commission told The Local: "At the end of the transition period, the Council will have to consider the addition of the United Kingdom to the list of third countries exempted from travel restrictions. This is a decision for the Council to make."

Can I travel from France to outside the EU?

Before December 15th anyone living in France who needs to travel outside the EU will need to have the attestation and will need to justify the visit, whether for essential work or family reasons (see above). Again visiting family in your home country is not allowed.

But non-EU nationals in France caught out by the lockdown can return to their home countries to live. 

They can just use the normal attestation and tick the box for "imperative family reasons". They should also carry proof of travel with them such as flight tickets if they are travelling to the airport.

After December 15th this will end.

Do I need a negative test result to travel?

At the start of the second lockdown the PM Jean Castex said anyone arriving in the country would have to undergo a Covid-19 test - previously this was only the the case for travellers from certain high risk countries.

“Anyone arriving in the country will have to prove a negative test carried out 72 hours in advance. And for those who do not have the result of a test, a test on arrival will be imposed," he said.


Although the PM said this would be the case for all travellers, testing only seems to be being rolled out at airports, not ferry ports, the Channel Tunnel or road crossings, however it's possible it will be extended to these locations in the weeks to come.

Tests at French airports are free and use antigen tests - a nasal swab that gives results within 15 minutes. 

If you have other questions about international travel please email [email protected]


Comments (3)

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Anonymous 2020/11/05 17:38
If you are connecting through France to another country, it’s your destination country’s rules that apply.
Anonymous 2020/10/31 12:12
Doug, if you are a tourist, you're not getting in. If you are a French national, then yes. If you have a CDS, then maybe.
Anonymous 2020/10/31 08:22
What about for layovers at airports? We are flying from the US to Venice with a 4 hour layover in CDG next week.

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