LATEST: Who can travel to France from outside the EU?

Travel in and out of France from outside the EU remains limited, but the French government has relaxed some of the restrictions since the ban was imposed in January. Here's what the latest rules say.

LATEST: Who can travel to France from outside the EU?
Photo: AFP

On January 31st, in a last-ditch attempt to avoid a third lockdown, France closed its non-EU borders, however from March 12th there are exceptions in place for travel between certain countries


France’s borders are closed to anyone coming in from outside the EU or the Schengen zone.

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)

March 12th

From March 12th, some extra exemptions have been 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 a non-EU country will also need a vital reason.

Exempt countries

From March 12th, seven non-EU countries have been granted an exemption, meaning that people can travel to or from these countries for any reason and do not need to prove that their trip is essential.

They are;

  • Australia
  • South Korea
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • The United Kingdom
  • Singapore


People who are either travelling from an exempt country or fit one of the reasons for compelling travel need a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours. They also need a permission form (attestation de déplacement et de voyage) stating their reason for travel, or a declaration that they have no Covid symptoms, depending on the country of origin. You can download the attestation or declaration HERE.

In short, travellers from most non-EU countries (apart from those seven exempted) need a test and the attestation but travellers from EU countries need a negative test and declaration saying they have no Covid symptoms.

Once in France, travellers from outside the EU are requested to self-isolate for 7 days at a location of their choice and then take a second test. This is a request and there are no checks on quarantine.


Travel within the EU bloc and the Schengen zone is less restrictive, with no need to demonstrate a vital reason for travel – although both French and EU authorities ask people to keep travel to a minimum.

However, anyone arriving in France from an EU country will need a show a negative PCR test, taken within the last 72 hours and also a sworn statement that they do not have Covid symptoms (see above).

Find full details on the rules, as well as exempt categories, HERE.

Member comments

  1. I’ve read elsewhere that travel to and from certain countries such as Australia and New Zealand is exempt from the new restrictions. Is that true?

    1. Hi, I live in NZ. My mother is in France. Before these changes we were exempt and could arrive in Paris, but travelling around France between regions I was advised was incredibly hard. My understanding is that now I cannot enter the country.

  2. it doesn’t stipulate taking a second test after the seven days – it did in the previous rules; in fact i am due to take my test this week but now doesn’t seem to be neccessary (in any case it is all on honour nothing seemingly is logged)

  3. Is it really the case that the same rules apply to travel OUT of France, that is to say a British national can only return to the UK if she has one of the same ‘compelling reasons’ as coming TO France from the UK (of course, with the negative PCR test and all the requirements for entry to the UK)?

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For members


What to expect if you’re travelling to France in December

From Covid rules to strikes, snow to festivals here's what you can expect if you are travelling to France in December or January.

What to expect if you're travelling to France in December

Covid rules

Travel over the previous two Christmases was heavily restricted because of Covid, but this year things are very different.

There are currently no travel restrictions in place, no requirement to show proof of a Covid vaccination to enter France and the vaccine pass is no longer in use.

Regarding masks, these are only compulsory in certain healthcare settings and are no longer required in other public places. However, the country is experiencing a surge in cases and the Prime Minister has called on people to wear masks on public transport, especially at peak times.

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: essential Covid information for tourists in France


If you’re planning to use public transport you might need to keep an eye on strike announcements as several sectors have threatened strike action over the Christmas and New Year period.

On the railways, conductors and ticket collectors have filed a provisional strike notice that covers the weekends of December 23rd-26th and December 30th to January 2nd, while cabin crew at both Easyjet and Air France have also filed provisional strike notices for the Christmas period. Whether these strikes go ahead depends on the result of ongoing pay negotiations.

Meanwhile if you are intending to travel by Eurostar, security staff in the UK have called a strike on December 16th, 18th, 22nd and 23rd. Eurostar says it will notify passengers nearer the time if any services are cancelled or delayed on those days.

READ ALSO Should you travel to France if there is a strike on?

You can keep up to date with the latest at our strike section HERE


The long-term forecast for France, and indeed the rest of Europe, is a winter of above-average temperatures. However forecasters say there will be a “cold blast” and that will be concentrated in December, so expect chilly temperatures and flurries of snow, especially on higher ground.

If you’re planning to ski then snow will be exactly what you want – many of France’s Alps ski resorts saw delayed opening dates because of a lack of snow but as of the start of December the higher resorts – like Tignes, Val d’Isère and Courchevel – were open.

Power cuts 

Countries across Europe are grappling with power issues this winter due to the shortage of Russian gas, and France is no exception.

Local authorities have been asked to put in place emergency plans in case scheduled power cuts are required – here are the details – although the government insists this eventuality is unlikely.

Trains, hospitals and schools: How will handle possible blackouts this winter

There is a website and app called Ecowatt which gives the latest information on whether power cuts are likely, and which areas will be affected. Here’s how it works


France has only two public holidays over the festive period – December 25th and January 1st. This year, both of these fall on a Sunday, meaning no extra day off for workers. Most shops will be closed on those days although on December 25th many boulangeries and patisseries will open in the morning only, along with some florists.

Other than that, you can expect most shops, restaurants and cafés to be open as normal over the holiday period, although offices are often closed for longer. French schools are closed between December 17th and January 3rd.


You can expect traffic to be heavy on certain days as French people travel to spend time with their families. The traffic forecasting site Bison futé predicts that traffic will be heavy on Thursday, December 22nd and very heavy on Friday, December 23rd, especially in the greater Paris Île-de-France region. 

The roads are also expected to be busy on Sunday, January 1st and Monday January 2nd. 

Festivals and events

You can also expect lots of fun festivals and events at this time of year, especially Christmas markets and light festivals.

Here’s our pick of some of the best Christmas markets and festive events