Tests and quarantine: France imposes new border restrictions for arrivals from non-EU countries

The French government announced a tightening of border restrictions with non-EU countries including the UK on Thursday as it attempts to head off a new rise in Covid-19 infections. Here's what you need to know.

Tests and quarantine: France imposes new border restrictions for arrivals from non-EU countries

In a press conference on Thursday French PM Jean Castex announced that a 6pm nighttime curfew would be extended throughout the country to stem rising Covid-19 rates.

The PM also announced that the rules for entering France would be tightened in a bid to prevent new more contagious variants of Covid-19 that have wreaked havoc in other countries such as the UK from spreading in France.

Castex announced that anyone arriving from a non-EU country would need to present a negative coronavirus test undertaken within the previous 72 hours to gain entry into France.

Travellers from outside the EU would then have to declare “on their honour” that they will self-isolate for seven days once they arrive in France and then undergo a second PCR test.

The self-isolation can take place at home.

“We are going to strengthen border control,” said the PM. “As of Monday (January 18th) all travellers coming to France from outside the European Union will have to take a test before leaving.

“Those concerned will then have to isolate for seven days and do a second PCR test at the end of this period.”

The UK, which left the EU at the end of the transition period on December 31st, is understood to be included by the new restrictions.

The premier minister also announced that certain countries within the EU which were suffering a steep surge in infections “such as Denmark and Ireland” would also be subject to extra border restrictions, without spelling out what these would be or when they would start.

Caste said “ministers will work on a coordination framework for the European Council on January 21st, to provide exceptions for cross-border workers and road hauliers.”

Cross-border workers and other “essential” workers entering France would be exempt from the requirement to isolate, the PM said.

France closed its border with Britain on December 20th due to the emergence of the new variant. It will remain partially closed until further notice.

At present only certain groups of people are allowed into France from the UK – French or European citizens, those who live in France or another EU country and essential workers – and everyone must present a negative Covid-19 test at the border.

Second-home owners, tourists and those visiting family remain barred.

Between 1 and 1.5 percent of new cases in France are the “variant anglais”, the French Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday, which equates to around 200 to 300 cases each day.

Since April travel to France and the rest of the EU has also been heavily restricted from non-EU countries, with only essential trips allowed such as residents of France returning home.




Member comments

  1. I hope they allow vaccinated family members to visit soon. I haven’t seen my parents in over a year. 🙁

  2. Yes, hopefully, once we are vaccinated it should mean we are good to travel. However, in the UK its unclear whether we get a document to state we’ve had the vaccine.

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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.