IN DETAIL: What travel restrictions does France have in place?

The Local France
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IN DETAIL: What travel restrictions does France have in place?
Photo: AFP

With various different domestic and Europe-wide policies in place the situation at the French border is a complicated one. Here's what rules apply to anyone travelling to France.


Since the emergence of two new, more contagious, strains of the Covid-19 virus France has enacted several measures to tighten its border controls.

There is now essentially a two-speed system in place - for those travelling from within the EU and those entering from outside the Bloc.

Travel rules are based on where you are travelling from, not what passport you hold, so a German national travelling from the USA would fall under the non-EU rules, likewise an American coming from Belgium would be covered by the EU rules.


Outside the EU

Anyone travelling from outside the EU (including the UK) now needs to demonstrate they have an essential reason for entering the country. This allows work or study-related travel but rules out tourism, family visits or visits from second home owners.
The full list of those who are allowed to travel is   
  • Citizens of an EU country or 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   
Those who do have an essential reason for travel need three documents to enter the country - a negative Covid test, an international travel certificate and a sworn declaration of being Covid-free.
Negative Covid-19 test - this must be taken within 72 hours of travel - the test should be a PCR nasal swab test, the rapid-result antigen tests are not accepted. Children under 11 are the only group exempt from the test requirement
Sworn statement - declaring that you have not had any Covid symptoms during the 14 days before your journey
International travel certificate - as was required during lockdown, an attestation de déplacement international (international travel certificate) is again required for trips from the UK. You can find the form HERE to download and there is a version in English. You need to fill in your personal details and then tick your reason for travel from the list provided.
You will need to have this paperwork ready before departing and it will be requested by your travel provider before boarding your plane/ferry/train.
The attestation is a signed statement sworn on your honour that the information you provide is true, so there shouldn't be any need for extra proof - but non-French citizens who are resident in France are advised to have with them proof of residency as well. Documents accepted as proof of residency are the carte de séjour residency card, the emailed receipt acknowledging your application for a carte de séjour or proof of address including a rental contract or utility bills.
All arrivals with the exception of hauliers then need to self-isolate for seven days and then take a second test. The quarantine is an honour-based system, and no checks are being carried out.


Inside the EU
If you're travelling from within the EU or Schengen zone, things are a lot easier.
Arrivals from within the EU can enter France for any reason and there is no need to provide proof of the reason for your trip, although both French and European leaders have called on people to reduce non-essential travel as much as possible.
If you arrive after 00:00 on Sunday, January 24th you will need a negative Covid test if you are arriving by air or sea.
Those arriving by rail or road will not need a test - largely because it is impractical to police those borders - and cross-border workers and hauliers are also exempt.
The rules on tests for those who need them are the same as for non-EU travel - it must be a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours.
There is no need to quarantine if you are arriving from within the EU.


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